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Barcelona es la ostia...
Member Name: superfly
Date: 14/06/00, updated on 22/11/00 (248 review reads)
Advantages: Mountains and Sea
Disadvantages: Suffocatingly Hot in Summer
Having Spent a year living in Barcelona, I have fallen in love with a city which I would put on a par with Rio de Janeiro in Brasil or Vancouver in Canada. The people are great and the city is more laid back than Madrid, which must be due to the sea air which filters through the city and keeps it buzzing well into the wee hours of the morning (be ready to have dinner at 11pm and be out on the town till 5am)!
Rarely does one get a large enough city by the sea that is liveable (ie not too small)! The sea provides for nice places to lounge out in the summer and the added advantage of having the Pyrenee mountains to the north, allows for great skiing in the winter and is an easy 1.5hrs away. Basically, Barna (as called by the local catalans) is a Roman city which grew to become one of the wealthiest cities, both culturally and industrially, in Spain.
Lately the city has been regenerated by both the Olympics in 1992 and also the Catalan's government efforts to make the city more beautiful by paying part of reforms to old buildings. The real beauty of Barna comes in its architecture and art: Gaudi and Picasso both lived here and provide a lot of the art which can be seen throughout the city.
In terms of the nightlife, Barna has plenty to do...but don't fall in to the tourist traps and remember there are plenty of locals, even giris (foreigners) that live there that can point you towards the right places. No matter what you are told avoid Mare Magnum in the Port Vell at all cost (a monumental tourist trap with expensive drinks). The Port Olimpic offers a wide variety of bars/clubs and restaurants if you don't feel like venturing too much around the city. But for the true connoiseur stick to the Barrio Gotico and check out the plethura of bars down different nooks and crannies of Barcelona's old city (but beware of your wallet and handbags because there are pickpockets like every major city)!?!