“What is it that makes Barcelona different from other cities? People here just don’t seem to get hectic,” says Spanish MotoGP star Dani Pedrosa, a man in a long-term love affair with the Catalan capital. “People even stay calm and relaxed when the traffic gets really bad. The same goes for the day-to-day: little shops shut down for a three-hour siesta in the afternoon and no one has dinner before 10pm. And while we’re on the subject of food, try the small, inconspicuous places that locals go to. The paella will be cheaper and just as good as on the beachfront at Barceloneta. Onetip for drivers and motorbike riders: for the most part, the streets are laid out in a grid system, so there’s no problem getting from A to B. This place isn’t just relaxed. It’s user-friendly, too.”
Top Five PEDROSA’S PICKS:
1 W Barcelona
Plaça de la Rosa dels Vents, 1
“A five-star hotel with the stylish Eclipse Bar on the 26th floor. As well as the excellent array of cocktails, there’s also a great view of Barceloneta. But be warned: there’s a dress code.”
2 LA RAMBLA PROMENADE
Plaça de Catalunya – Puerto
“Maddest place in the city. Mime artists, acrobats and performers everywhere. You can watch all the hustle and bustle in peace from the restaurant La Poma.”
3 CINEMA COLISEUM
Gran Via d.L.C. Catalanes 595
“This cinema dates back to the 1920s. Its single screen has three levels of seating and it can accommodate roughly 1,700 filmgoers. Non-Spanish speakers like it here because it shows a lot of foreign films with subtitles.”
4 SANTA EULALIA
Passeig de Gràcia, 93
“This is my favourite shop. It’s where I have my suits made. It’s absolutely huge, and full of the latest stuff by big-name international designers. Have a coffee on their terrace once you’re done shopping.”
Barcelona on wheels
Its surrounding mountains are mountain-bike paradise. Fantastic forest trails lead down from the top of the tallest, Tibidabo, back toward the city.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Put your foot to the floor where professional racers do the same by booking a session in a car or on a bike at one of the great F1 and MotoGP arenas.
Own long trousers, sturdy shoes and a valid driving licence? You can hire a 250cc quad bike and thrash it through the Catalan countryside.