Gràcia District

Once a separate town, Gràcia was swallowed up by Barcelona, and now is surrounded by the city. Gràcia’s narrow streets stretch up into the hills above Barcelona making it easy to navigate as you’re either heading up or down. Home to Barcelona’s working classes, students and anarchists, it’s a very lively mix and a popular place to visit for those hip to the scene. Shops, markets and restaurants are all a bit cheaper here, and the popular lunch menu can easily be found here for less than 7 Euros. There are many plazas in the district, some with picturesque statues or churches. In the evenings these places are where people young and old meet for conversation, food and entertainment.

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Catalan

The natives of Barcelona are Catalan, meaning they live in the Catalunya region of Spain. Like the Basques they feel they are not Spanish and don’t really want to be a part of Spain. This is because Spain has not been kind to the Catalan people, conquering and dominating them for hundreds of years.

Until the death of Franco in 1975, the flag, language and Catalan identity were illegal. This has bred resentment, and the discontent with Spanish rule still lingers below the surface. There might not be a visible separatist movement like with ETA and the Basque people, but… Continue reading

Las Ramblas (La Rambla)

This tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare runs from Plaza Catalunya to Barcelona’s port district, and is a major attraction. It’s called Las Ramblas because it consists of five different Ramblas or boulevards one after the other. A casual walk down Las Ramblas is a must for all tourists. It’s a wonderful, vibrant part of the city where street vendors and performers vie for your attention.

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Getting Around Barcelona

Barcelona’s Metro

Barcelona’s transportation system is world class, efficient and cheap. I recommend getting a street map right away. These will usually indicate the Metro stops and tourist attractions. The Metro is one of the best ways to get around town, avoiding traffic jams, and city smog. The cars and stations are clean, relatively modern, and there’s usually an electric sign telling you how long the wait is for the next train (rarely more than 3 minutes).

A single trip costs a Euro, but there’s a whole slew of discount cards available for multiple journeys, and these are an excellent deal. If you’re going to be in Barcelona more than a day or two, I highly recommend getting the T-10 card, which allows you 10 trips within the city, and costs 5.80 Euros. That works out to only 58 Eurocents a trip, and that includes an hour and 20 minutes of travel time, which can easily get you anywhere you need to go. These can be purchased at the station window or from one of the automated machines. If you’re going to be staying longer, even better discounts are available on a monthly or yearly basis.

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Sherry from Jerez

Sherry

Sherry is from Jerez in southern Spain. This fine wine is often drunk as an aperitif, or traditionally in Andalucia, chilled with a variety of tapas.

Sherry is fermented from the Palomino and and Pedro Ximénez grapes. The Palomino grape makes a dry, delicate sherry and the Pedro Ximénez grape makes a fuller, sweeter type of sherry.

The grapes are picked usually during the first three weeks in September. The Palomino grapes are rushed to the presses to ensure freshness.

Drying is required for the Pedro Ximénez grapes, as they are too juicy when picked. They are laid on… Continue reading

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