Jennifer Lo Prete from OrangePolkaDot.com, a fellow fanatic of Barcelona has been good enough to share her local knowledge and let us in on her favourite shops and haunts etc. in this exciting city. Her blog website, OrangePolkaDot.com attempts to explain the Catalan culture, traditions, and festivals that she experiences to her family and friends in the United States where she is originally from. Furthermore, according to the lady herself, her blogs mainly focus on family friendly activities, in addition to occasional events that are just for us adults. Here’s what she has to say…
I grew up in San Jose, California and most recently lived in California’s Sierra foothills. I have also lived in London, Washington D.C., Oregon, Chicago and Florida. We moved to the Barcelona area in March 2009 following the lure of a new job and Europe at our fingertips. When I am not shuttling my peques to school, swim lessons and birthday parties, I work freelance as a writer and marketing communications consultant. I love wandering around grocery store aisles and local mercat in search of unique foods. I have taken some Catalan cooking classes and am currently considering the requisite purchase of a leg of jamon for midnight snacks while I write.
I started Orange Polka Dot as a way to explain the Catalan culture, traditions and festivals we experience to my friends and family stateside. As pat of the Lonely Planet blogger program, my blog feeds into Lonely Planet’s information on Barcelona. I try to focus on events in Barcelona that are family friendly, but, hey every now and then us adults need to cut loose (maybe dashing down the streets with fire… have you heard about the Catalan correfoc tradition? It is a must see!).
Unfortunately, no clever story behind the name. I simply love the color orange and happened to have some orange polka dotted fabric near me when I was filling out the blog form.
2) Three places not to miss in Barcelona
a) I am positive all of us Barcelona bloggers will agree on my number one place not to dare miss in Barcelona. I make all my visitors go here and try some local cuisine at one of the bars in… La Boqueria. I love La Boqueria for all the interesting and bizarre types of food and ingredients, the great bars with tasty market fresh food and that locals really shop there. Of course, you’ll see throngs of tourists buying delicious fruit salads or savory bacalo fritters to go, but you will definitely get your toes run over by an old lady pushing her carrito full of fresh veggies and fish if you are not careful.
b) If you like modern art, the Miró Foundation museum tops the list. The foundation houses the permanent collection of Catalan artist Joan Miró and intriguing temporary collections. Miró’s collection showcases the breadth of his artistic and creative abilities with his sketches, paintings, tapestries and sculptures. The Miró foundation is located in the beautiful, lush green gardens of Montjuic. After visiting the museum it is relaxing to stroll around the many Montjuic gardens. There are some great playgrounds for children and spots to grab a coffee or beer while the little ones play.
c) Most importantly, the main must do activity in Barcelona is to simply, get lost! Yes, throw the map back in your purse and wander the maze of medieval and gothic streets in the Barri Gotic and El Born. There are so many fabulous shops and cafes hidden around every corner. Walk next to Roman walls (or on top of the Roman village Barcino if you visit the Museo de Historia de la Ciutat de Barcelona at Plaça Rei). Discover one of the many little plazas, sip a glass of cava from a local Catalan producer, try a few tapas and people watch.
3. Your secret place in Barcelona
A great way to pass the time and pick up a uniquely Barcelona souvenir (don’t worry no tacky tourist trap here) is to stroll down Baixada Viladecols in the Gothic district. The street isn’t usually too busy, has lots of history and extremely unique shops and cafes. The streets follows along an old Roman wall. At the bottom of Baixada Viladecols, near Correos you can see the remains of a Roman tower. I stop by La Clandestina (Baixada Viladecols, 2) for a traditional Moroccan or chai tea. The cafe has a lounge feel – low mosaic tables, dim lighting and lots of pillows. La Clandestina serves tea in individual silver Moroccan teapots and has some sandwiches and pastries. Next door is the best souvenir shop in Barcelona – an urban art gallery, Base Elements. The gallery showcases the work of Catalan street and urban artists, such as Pez. There is a wide range of artwork (from large canvas down to tee-shirts and magnets) at very affordable prices. A bit further up the street you can lunch at Café de l’Acadèmia (Carrer dels Lledó, 1). When the street changes its name to Carrer Dagueria, you can find Formatgeria La Seu (c/Dagueria,16), where you can taste hand-crafted cheeses from small, independent producers in Spain.
So, there’s a few hints and some hidden gems for you to check out on your travels in Barcelona, in addition to a couple of places where you can buy yourself some really unique and reasonably priced souvenirs to take back with you. All in the knowledge that they have been tried, tested, and approved. Thanks Jennifer!