“Now then, I’m five years deep in Catalonia, so I have my regular hang-outs and haunts, but that’s not to say there aren’t some glaring omissions in my fun day, as I am uncovering hidden gems on a monthly basis.
My day is fairly season-neutral. There are tons of special events around Barcelona throughout the year, but the route I’ll set out can be enjoyed on any old day. You’re going to need a bike though, which can be rented in various locations around the city. The most fashion-conscious will head straight to Cream and hook themselves up with a fixed-gear number, not cheap at 50€ a day, but let’s imagine your trip is being sponsored by a rich uncle bribing you to keep shtum after coming onto you at Christmas.
Breakfast. Starting in the Raval, I can definitely vouch for a pastoral and healthy first meal of the day at Olivia (c/ Pintor Fortuny). Tiny, comfortable, local press to peruse, hot mums make up the clientele. Or if that’s full, check out Forn de Betlem across the way, still good produce and press, not as healthy, hot mums make up the staff.
To face the day you’d be well advised to get a wet shave from my barber on c/ Joaquin Costa, who goes by the handle Sohail.
After that, a ride down La Rambla gives way to the front, where you want to be turning left at Columbus, heading down the maritime way and around to the W Hotel peninsula to see how the other half live, before riding off back down the beachfront. Even if money were no object, the bar on the 15th floor at the W really isn’t worth the mither: not posh enough nor stylish enough to warrant 12€ drinks.
It might be brunch time by now, which I would take at la Xampaneria, back in Barceloneta, going early (before noon) to avoid the crowds. It’s standing room only but they do great value butties on bread that’s too hard, and bottles of cava for less than a fiver.
There’s nothing sweet there for us, so we may have to pass by Baluard’s bakery on the way back to the beach for a tasty pastry.
Enjoying the ride, then, you may be tempted to stop off for a game of basketball, volleyball, table tennis, a sunbathe, an after party or if you’re fortunate, a doughnut from the singing Doughnut Man who carries a big tray of said police staple on his head and managed to feature in Shakira/Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Loca’ video.
If you’ve got as far as Poblenou, then it’s tapas time, when I’d point you in the direction of El Timbal, who have a great selection of Spanish tapas and more Catalan sandwiches and salads, plus cute little glasses of beer/wine. Cheap and friendly and no-one goes just once.
Alright, so that takes you to the afternoon, where I’m going to recommend some shopping. Back to the Raval, where you should pick up some vinyl to get ready to from Discos Paradiso or CD Drome and some fresh new/old garms from one of the second-hand spots on Riera Baixa, unless one of our markets is on in which case scratch that and head towards Marina metro where we’ll be in full effect.
You may have time for a disco nap, or siesta, now.
You’re spoilt for choice and no mistake when it comes to dinner time in Barna, and can part with any amount of cash you feel like with varying degrees of satisfaction. I’m going to recommend you go for a mid-range option at Anima, which peddles new-school Mediterranean chow in a laid-back central type of way.
Alright, it’s drinking time, and for a well-crafted mixed beverage head up Joaquin Costa’s recently recobbled street to Betty Ford’s, the fashionista’s watering hole of choice, you’d best go early-ish as it gets a bit hectic some nights.
If it’s 0200H, it’s all about the club, and I’m going to recommend a cross-neighbourhood waltz to Apolo, one of the most beautiful salas in the city and home to some of the most forward-thinking electronic music in the city, with a fresh-faced public and typically expensive drinks. Which brings me to my final slice of advice: remember your hip-flask.”
Diagonal Mark is a jack of all trades who resides in El Raval.
You can find his podcast at radiofauna.podomatic.com.
A wine collective to which he contributes is at steelwine.blogspot.com.
And his second-hand market blog at unitedjumble.blogspot.com.
If you’d like to write your BCN Day then please get in touch via the email address at the bottom of the website. I’d love to hear from you. The more we have the better.