Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Neighborhoods - Poblenou

For much of its history, poblenou or new town, had been an afterthought when people thought of Barcelona and for the locals it was known more for its rundown industrial zone and gypsies than as a place to live or go out. Starting in the late nineties, this began to change and nowadays it's a bustling barrio. Luckily, however, it still maintains a village feel and can be a nice respite from the chaos of the center

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The heart of the neighborhood is La Rambla Poblenou which runs from Gran Via down to the beaches; the closer to the water, the more popular it is. Like most of the ramblas found throughout the city, it's a wide, tree lined promenade with enough terraces to sit outside and enjoy a coffee or a beer while watching the people leisurely stroll by. Most of these places offer the traditional Spanish and Catalan fare of tapas, paella and sangria at prices that vary from inexpensive to a little pricey. But if your in the mood for something different, there's a great Lebanese restaurant called Arwad that's also known to have belly dancing on weekend nights.

On the corner of Rambla Poblenou and Carrer del Joncar is Casino de l'Aliança which offers no games where you can win or lose your money, but instead it provides a locale for shows and concerts, including local try outs for Eurovision contestants. It's also supposedly haunted. But before it, on the opposite corner, is Tio Che - a place famous for its ice cream and horchatas, which is a milky, vanilla type drink and popular on hot, summer days. Personally, my favorite ice cream spot is the Italian further down past Doctor Trueta whose name escapes me.

But if you really want to eat and drink well, it's better to venture off the rambla onto the side streets.  Between Carrer del Joncar and Carrer del Taulat is a small square with quite possibly the ugliest church I've ever seen but if you walk past it and cross Maria Aguilo you'll find La Pubilla de Taulat. A small local bar with white walls, the cook whips up whatever tapas he feels like that day, but almost always includes patatas bravas. Next door to it is the bodega run by his brother offering a wide selection of wines, beers and liquors.

For rices and huevos fritos con jamon, a Crema Catalan mousse, there's Vell Poblenou and for a menu del dia, there are a few places along Carrer Llull and Pujades for good quality to price ratio in an authentic Barcelona setting - a dive restaurant with metal stools and colorful ceramics. And every two doors there's either a bakery or a pharmacy just in case you need anything.

Of course, it's Poblenou's close proximity to the beaches that has seen it grow and it has a bit more of a lazier feel than say, Barceloneta. Across the green park and la Ronda Litoral are the Bogatell and Mar Bella playas that are just a little less crowded than the one on the other side of the twin towers.

1 comment:

  1. Hola! Or, as they say in my new country, hei hei! I'm an American ex-pat living in Norway who recently found your blog while searching for more info on Barcelona after visiting your beautiful city last year. Your blog is excellent. I really appreciate your perceptions of your city, your life as an ex-pat living there, and--especially--the endless discoveries/challenges of learning a new language. I'll be a regular reader now.

    My husband and I are very interested to learn how Spain's economic problems are affecting Barcelona, just in case you were having trouble thinking of a future post. ;-)