Budget Friendly Things to Do in Barcelona

Admire Gaudí

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

You don’t have to go inside many of his buildings to appreciate them. People crowd on Passeig De Gracia outside Casa Milà ‘La Pedrera’. The city feels dedicated to his work, always popping up. Go to Parc Güell and you can see an elevated view of the city or listen to street musicians. And you can’t forget Sagrada Familia. Inside or out, you can marvel at his achievements that have lasted centuries. Take a picture of before and after the cranes come down, the cathedral-like building still not complete.

Peruse the Mercat de la Boqueria

Chocolates at La Boqueria

Chocolates at La Boqueria

Off of La Rambla, this market is a farmer’s market that demands all your senses and takes them to the limit. As soon as you walk in, stands are painted in bright colors with chocolates and candies and fruits and vegetables. Take a journey to the back and look at all the fresh varieties of seafood. It may be full of other tourists that have been told to take a visit, but it’s worth it to experience local Catalan culture.

Wander Barri Gòtic

Gothic Quarter Alleyway

Gothic Quarter Alleyway

The Gothic quarter of Barcelona feels like a walk back to the very distant past of medieval times. The stone and tight alleyways are full of hole in the wall shops and eateries that are even fun to pass. It’s confusing like a maze, but enjoy the possibility of getting lost.

Do the Beach

Sand Sculpture at Barceloneta Beach

Sand Sculpture at Barceloneta Beach

Part of the draw of Barcelona is its perfect weather. Why not take advantage of it with the beaches at the edge of the city? Just take off your shoes and walk on, enjoying the options of beach bars and refreshments.

Get off at a Random Metro Stop

Barcelona Metro Map

Barcelona Metro Map

Barcelona has a great metro system and makes it easy to follow and connects to anywhere. It makes the city less daunting and accessible. Get off somewhere you are unfamiliar with and maybe you can find your own special something. Although the metro isn’t technically free, a one trip ticket is only about 2 euros.

Hike up Montjuïc

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) at Plaça d'Espanya

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) at Plaça d’Espanya

All of Plaça d’Espanya offers plenty to do. The Magic Fountain at night has showings of a colorful water show. Or climb up the steps and see another aerial view of the city. Keep wandering back and you can see part of the Olympic village architecture and even catch some of Barcelona’s other famous son, Joan Miró, and a museum of his art.


What are some of you favorite, free things to do in Barcelona?

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Review of Restaurant 7 Portes

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When my parents came to visit me in Barcelona I wanted to take them to a really nice restaurant. My Spanish professor at the time was a local and I had asked him where I could get his favorite paella in the city.

7 Portes,” he told me.

I made a reservation online and it was an easy process. I got an email verifying my time, and even when I had to change the time, it was easy to do and they were flexible. It was easy to find down by the port, just a short walk away from Barceloneta off the yellow line (Passeig Isabel II). Knowing the sea was just behind the restaurant gave the impression the fish was going to be fresh.

The service was outstanding. It was almost too much, having the waiter always by your side and having them serve the food to you. We ordered the “Rich Man’s” paella, claiming to be “invented especially for the wealthy but lazy gourmet.” The paella dish came out and was placed on what looked similar to a pizza tray.

7-portes

Instead of grabbing a spoon and scooping a pile on your plate, the waiter asks for your plate and serves you over the paella. Then, you wait until everyone has been served. Although it was fancier than I’m used to, with the waiters and hostesses wearing white coats and ties, referring to everyone as sir or ma’am, the atmosphere was still friendly and approachable. Etiquette did not have to be completely proper, though it would be nice to have some knowledge.

We almost devoured the entire thing!

We almost devoured the entire thing!

The paella we ordered was also outstanding. The rice was hearty and filled with a wide assortment of meats and shellfish. But what made the “Rich Man’s” version so glamorous was that the shellfish were already de-shelled.

You could just dig right in.

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A really neat touch was seeing how history was a part of the restaurant. It’s been around since 1853, and with your receipt, they add a note about what famous person was known to have dined at your table. My parents and I were sitting at the table of surrealist artist Joan Miró.

7 Portes Interior

7 Portes Interior

Dining at 7 Portes shouldn’t be something done every night of the week, being expensive, but it makes a great place for special occasions and good memories.

Hot Beer

I tried to always go to the beach. It was so convenient. Hop on the yellow train and you’re practically there. I love to tan, and the beach was free. But with my luck, the spring I was there was one of the rainiest that Barcelona had had in a long time. My one professor really stressed this fact a lot in class:
                  “I feel bad that it is always cloudy and rainy,” she would say. “Usually its always 80 degrees, with no cloud in the sky.”
                  Whenever it was nice out, I’d pack my things and make as much a day at the beach as I could. I’d lay out my towel somewhere closer to the side of the W hotel. I would relax and sometimes take a nap. Except, about every five minutes someone would be tapping my legs asking me to buy stuff.
                  “Massage?”
                  “Cold Beer?”
                  “Towel?”
                  “Sunscreen?”
                  “Coconut?”
                  “Beer?”
                  “Massage?”
                  “Soda?”
                  “Cerveza?”
                  “Beer?”

                  Everyone had something to sell and they wouldn’t leave you alone. The massages were the worst. I would repeat myself multiple times in any language I knew that I did not want a massage. But they would keep asking and start rubbing your feet and your hands and your arms. I just wanted to flick sand at them.

                  The men selling beer would usually listen to you right away and never bother you again.

Until the next day.

                  One of my friends said a man selling him coconut wouldn’t leave him alone. He was selling a small piece for about 5 euros which was an obvious rip off. She explained to the man that she did not want a piece of coconut, being that it was too expensive. He argued with her for a little and eventually let up. But before he left he said she could try a piece just as a sample.. She agreed and the man handed her a piece of coconut and as soon as she bit the fruit he said that she owed him five euros.

She was not happy.

The man obviously lied. But then she realized he had a knife in the back of his waist and she handed over the money before something worse happened. 

                  The vendors, if I can call them that, appeared to be mystical, appearing out of nowhere most of the time. But they seemed to travel in herds and would be by the beach day in and day out. I would even see them at night in larger groups down closer toward the clubs if I ever went. They sold beer and cold water bottle, but also hinted that they had drugs.

                  Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that it wasn’t always that sunny:



Hot Beer

She came in to visit around 3 on Friday, handed me her luggage off the bus and started talking about the clubs. She was ready for dinner at 6 even though it was early. By 8 or 9 she started to drink from the dollar wine bottles. She added ice cubes. She was dressed and ready to go in her dress by 10, bouncing in her heels excited to leave. I kept telling her it was early. But she was drunk enough to complain about not caring.

The clubs were lined up in a neon row by the beach. She said she wanted to take off her heels and jump into the sea as soon as she arrived. But she didn’t like the walk off the metro. She thought they would be right outside, in front of her. She thought she could tease the bouncer and get in for free, right away. She thought she would see someone famous, or have a boy buy her a drink.
We walked along the port, heading for the tip of the beach.

The W Hotel was tall, out in front, like a North Star for the city night. She just kept walking toward its distant spotlight.

She took off her heels when we got to the beach and she ran on the sand. The shore and water met in a black wade. The stars reflected off the sea and it looked like space was a mirrored wall that travelled up forever. She didn’t dip her feet in. But she found a palm tree nearby. She ran over and demanded a photo shoot. Her dress was slipping down her shoulders as she flung around the tree in different poses.

There were men wandering around the boardwalk with plastic bags full of beer. They started swinging over, whistling and begging for more of her attention. They kept shouting for our money.

“More beer? Hot beer? Cerveza? Beer?”

She got off her tree and went over to the packs of men. She hugged the one who was carting a bucket of coconut. I tried to pull her away before she got hurt.

“How much we talking?” she asked.

The vendors looked on and rubbed their fingers together asking for a lot. They stared at her chest and bare shoulders.

I grabbed her by the wrist, threw out some euros from my purse, and ran as we stumbled through the sand headed toward the W in the sky that still shown brighter than any other star across the sea.