IN ASSOCIATION WITH VODAFONE. TALK MORE ABROAD FOR LESS
The mountains meet the Med in the fun and frenetic Catalan capital. This is a great city on its way to even better things
Saturday 20 May 2006
The Hotel Omm (1), in the Eixample district at Rosselló 265 (00 34 93 445 4000; www.hotelomm.es), is the most chic of the new breed of hotels in Barcelona. A double starts at €210 (£143). Even if you are staying somewhere less expensive - I recommend the friendly, cheap and central Hostal Galerias Maldà (2), 00 34 93 317 3002, €13 (£9) per person - you should pay homage to the Omm and have a drink in the company of some of the trendiest people in the city.
The soaring Sagrada Familia (3), Antoni Gaudi's magnificent unfinished temple, is Barcelona's most recognisable symbol. The architect began his absurdly ambitious project well over a century ago; it is hoped to be finished by 2026, the centenary of his death. Open 9am-8pm daily (closing at 6pm from October-March), admission €8 (£5.50) (00 34 93 207 3031; www.sagradafamilia.org). Next, another testament to another Spanish genius. Pablo Picasso spent a decade in Barcelona around the turn of the 20th century. This crucial period in his artistic development is interpreted at the Museu Picasso (4) at Montcada 15-23 (00 34 93 31 96 310; www.museupicasso.bcn.es); open 10am-8pm daily except Mondays; admission €5 (£3.50).
Continue the Picasso theme at Els 4 Gats (5) at Montsio 3 (00 34 93 302 4140; www.4gats.com). In this Modernista structure, early 20th-century artists met and drank, sometimes settling their accounts with works of art rather than cash. Today, between 1pm and 4pm, you can get an excellent menu del dia, including a glass of wine for around €14 (£10) - or a work of art.
Barcelona is more than just an architectural feast; the city is also at the cutting edge of fashion. Check out the Catalan interpretations of Mango and Zara, then call in at Antonio Miro (6) at Consell de Cent 349 (00 34 93 48 70 670; www.antoniomiro.es). Even for visitors who don't know one end of a catwalk from the other, shopping can be a spectator sport in Barcelona - especially at the wonderful La Boqueria Market (7).
Begin the evening at a tapas bar. The modern façade of Taller de Tapas (8) at Argenteria 51 (00 34 93 26 88 559) conceals vaults ideal for conspiratorial sipping of sherry and nibbling of bubble-and-squeak, squid and cuttlefish. Another excellent choice is El Xampanyet at Montcada 22 (00 34 93 31 97 003), just down from the Museu Picasso (4): a narrow and beautifully tiled bar flowing with bottles of sparkling wine for €7 (£5). Tuck into a platter of serrano ham and the best Catalan bread-and-tomato in town. But pace yourself: the clubs do not get going until well past midnight.
To download the Barcelona Podcast visit: www.independent.co.uk/passport or iTunes. You will also shortly be able to download the podcasts and map direct to your phone on Vodafone live!
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