poblenou Barcelona elcant flea market

El Encant flea market @22 , Poblenou Barcelona

Last Updated: Nov 8, 2018 @

Poblenou Barcelona:

Barcelona is not just about Sagrada Familia, and the Ramblas. That’s all good of course, I have been there. There is however, another side of Barcelona that you should definitely swing by when you visit this little big city. I am talking about the up and coming town of Poblenou which means new village in Catalan. It is part of the Sant Marti district and bordered by the sea.

Barcelona beach Poblenou

A different Barcelona – beach in Poblenou

Here are some of the highlights from the accompanying podcast:

It used to be an industrial town, with a lot of manufacturing and textile companies setting up shop there. Workers from other parts of Spain came there to work and it was basically abandoned when the industry went away. Squatters took up residence in the old derelict buildings as always happens. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s what makes it so exciting.

The city went through a revitalization in preparation for the 1992 Olympics. The train tracks that had separated Barcelona from the sea were removed. Barcelona suddenly became the coastal city that it should have always been. The area is fast becoming the new it place. Artists and design companies set up shop there in the spacious lofts. The real estate market seems to be booming. Buildings in Poblenou include the Torre Agba, a 38 floor skyscraper designed by Jean Nouvel. It reminds you of the Gerkin in London. It is, according to the designer, supposed to represent a geyser, but you can see why it has earned other names :-). It’s a sleek glass building that are done in the Barcelona colors of red and blue and is like a beacon in the city.

The Torre Agbar

The Torre Agbar in Poblenou Barcelona

What to see in Poblenou Barcelona and beyond:

The new District 22 (@22), a trendy hipster place is poised to become the Silicon Valley of Barcelona. There is a major effort to bring more innovative companies with sustainable, and practical ideas. There is a designated urban plan to accomplish this. It’s basically a “live” test place for ideas, using the actual city. How cool is that? Plenty of tapas bars and hangouts are springing up alongside chic hotels.

barcelona poblenou

Love the designs of the buildings in Poblenou Barcelona. These have gorgeous sea views

 

You can see how the landscape is changing. This is the other side of the flea market.

You can see how the landscape is changing in Poblenou section of Barcelona. This is the other side of the flea market.

 

barcelona poblenou market

Can you see me in the mirror taking this picture? This Elcant flea market is totally hip and crowded and is one of the best things to do in Poblenou Barcelona

 

Inside the elcant flea market..

Inside the Elcant flea market. One of the must-do’s in Barcelona

 

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What to see in Barcelona? How cool and funky is this view from the top floor of the el Encants?

The El Encants Barcelona flea market –  One of the places that has taken on a new look. It is a hybrid indoor/outdoor market. It feels outdoorsy and fresh air blows through, yet there is a glassy roof providing shade. I’ve never seen anything like it before. You can buy pretty much anything there, from used clothes to second hand electronics to new bathroom fixtures.

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DHUB with the "gerkin" behind it.

DHUB with the “gerkin” behind it. Nice place to people watch after a long day at the flea market.

Other places include the Forum building,  the DHUB, ( design museum of Barcelona). It even has it’s own Rambla de Poblenou, the main commercial street that goes from the Avenue Diagonal all the way to the beach. The beach of course lends itself to a lot of water activities. We got a chance to do some paddle surfing, kayaking and sailing. I declined, as l am terrified of the water :-). so while the others went off in their wetsuits, we took a long walk and visited the nearby Ciutadella Park. This park is the oldest and most popular park in Barcelona. It is somewhat close to the Barceloneta beach. It has the usual triumphal arch that is common in many European cities, like Berlin and Brussels. It actually reminded me a lot of the Longchamps Palace in Marseille. It was interesting to find out that a young Gaudi (yes, that Gaudi of the famous, unfinished masterpiece that is the Sagrada) actually assisted architect Joseph Fontsere who designed it.

Ciutadella Park..love it!

Ciutadella Park in Barcelona..love it!

 

Love the Baroque style..

Love the Baroque style architecture..

We did a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter with our very capable guide, Xavier. I am always hesitant to use a guide when l visit places, but l must admit there is a certain something extra when you hear the history of a particular place. For instance, l would have seen this work of art, and probably oohed for a second, maybe snap a photo, and move on. Xavier explained that this particular scene was how the city was in the old days when Barcelona was still a walled city. Once inside the gates, the merchants had to pay taxes to conduct business. The enterprising merchants therefore set up shop outside of the city walls to avoid the taxes. A little later when we got to the actual remaining part of the wall, I felt a bit smug :-) compared to the other tourists because of my added knowledge. I think sometimes we are so focused on trying to do our own thing, off the beaten path, that we forget there is a reason for the path in the first place. I will consider more tours going forward. I like acquiring knowledge.

Barcelona

What to see in Barcelona – Old town! The depiction of the every day life in the then walled city of Barcelona

 

The remains of the wall..

The remains of the wall in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona..

 

Barcelona in Catalan.. just outside the wall

Barcelona in Catalan.. just outside the wall

 

barcelona poblenou old town

Discovered ruins of graves of the middle class people, right in the middle of the Gothic Quarter Barcelona

 

Iglesia Sant Pau del Camp in the old town.

Iglesia Sant Pau del Camp in the old town.

On the last day, we visited the MNAC, the Museum of National Art of Catalonia. That was such a treat for me. You can read more about the fabulous MNAC experience that let us behind the scenes. Let me just say that a trip to Barcelona should include checking out this museum. You get fabulous views of the city and the Olympic ring from up there. That alone makes it worthwhile.

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A wonderful backstage experience. We got up close and personal with the paintings and works of great artists.

 

MNAC art in the Roman section

MNAC art in the Roman section

 

On the way up towards MNAC, you can already imagine the view from the top.

On the way up towards MNAC, you can already imagine the view from the top.

Biking through Barcelona:

A bike tour of the city was also one of the highlights. We had a great guide from Un Menys Bicicletas. He made sure that our bikes were adjusted just right. He was so chill in the way he rode, that my confidence grew as we went along. I’m okay riding bikes, and was fine when on the bike lanes. Once off them however, l was nervous trying to weave my way through the many pedestrians areas that we biked through. When he felt we should walk our bike, we did so to be safe. He had an amazing amount of energy. Between him, Xavier and Jaume, we never lost anyone in the group.

u menys bike rental barcelona

The bike guide consults with Jaume and Xavier in preparation for our over 15 mile ride through the city

Barcelona has so many kilometers of bike lanes, a bike is a great way to get around the city. Every so often, we would stop to check out many points of interest, like the Old Jewish Quarter, the Cathedral, and the San Pau del Camp church. We also got to see the section of Litoral (I think that was it or was it Paral.lel :-)?), where 3 parts of Barcelona actually intersected. The old town in one part, the new part and the Poble Sec. I found interesting that by law, the old part served alcohol and closed by 11PM, the next part at midnight, and the last past at 1AM. It’s pretty cool because you can just move your party/drinking to the other parts and just carry on :-). The demographics changed as well. As we walked deeper into the old town, you saw more residential, working class neighborhoods, as opposed to the touristic areas.

Where to stay in Barcelona:

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This king size bed  at the Barcelo Sants hotel made me miss the U.S. Definitely a great place to stay in Barcelona.

 

Big screen TV and a desk to work at if needed.

Big screen TV and a desk to work at if needed.

 

The Barcelo Sants hotel is a cool, space theme style hotel. It kind of had a Jetsons TV show vibe to it. The rooms are luxurious in this true 4 star hotel. The bed was big, and had many fluffy pillows. There was soft lighting illuminating the room. The ambiance made for a peaceful place to crash after full days of discovering the city.  It is ultra convenient as it sits almost atop the Sants train station. Direct line to the airport? Yep! You can’t beat that. The staff were so nice and there are computers that you can use, right in the lobby. There is also a big screen TV and plenty of seats. I had about four hours to kill after we were done with the activities. I chose to hang out in the lobby, watch some television and catch up on my emails etc online, thanks to the free wifi.

Another option of good hotels in Poblenou Barcelona is the Travelodge Barcelona Poblenou. The prices are reasonable and the location is great. Nowadays, with the AirBnB debacle where the locals are rebelling against short term lets, you might want to consider staying at hotels in Barcelona. Don’t be surprised if the prices are very competitive.

The Food in Barcelona: (Where to eat in Barcelona)

  • Andreu for the best jamon Iberico
  • El Cangrejo Loco for amazing seafood and paella
  • W Hotel for the most delicious burgers and fries
  • Fabrica Moritz for German inspired cuisine and microbrewery

I will just show you in pictures some of the amazing food that we had in Barcelona. I don’t think l had anything that wasn’t exceptional. Tapas, seafood, burgers were all great. The ultra delicious Iberico ham at Andreu? Fantastico!!! The seafood Fideua at the El Cangrejo Loco? Insanely good. By the way, Fideua is about to overtake Paella as my favorite Spanish food. I freaking love it! It’s like paella, but made with what looks like little short noodles. It is served with Alliolli sauce, a mixture of garlic, olive oil and egg yolk.

Fideua at the El Cangreco Loco

Seafood Fideua at the El Cangrejo Loco. The views are stunning as well and definitely recommend it.

 

Seafood Paella..yum!

Seafood Paella..yum! A Valenciano specialty that is available in other parts of Spain.

 

The best burger l have ever had, hands down at the W hotel. Wagyu beef burger with teriyaki sauce, Shitake mushrooms and spicy mayonaisse and served on Wasabi bread. Oh my :-)

The best burger l have ever had, hands down at the W hotel. Wagyu beef burger with teriyaki sauce, Shitake mushrooms, spicy mayonaise and served on Wasabi bread. Oh my :-)

 

pork chop and rice plate

Pork chop and rice! It was fantastic. I love the food in Barcelona.

 

calamari tapa barcelona

Calamari appetizer was amazing

 

patatas brava tapas poblenou

Yummy tapas.. patatas brava at a bar in Poblenou Barcelona

 

tapas in barcelona poblenou

Our tapas crawl in Pobenou Barcelona, everything was delicious.

 

Calamari is a perennial favorite..

Calamari is a perennial favorite in Poblenou, and all of Spain even.

 

Even the salad was divine..

Even the salad was divine..

 

ribs at w hotel barcelona

Glazed ribs at W hotel Barcelona

 

jamon and pan in poblenous barcelona

Jamon is a must in Spain, this was at Andreu. They have tales at the Charcuteria so you can enjoy your fresh food.

This experience , courtesy of the Barcelona Tourism Board, was a fantastic way to discover a different side of Barcelona. I felt the same thrill when we discovered the Born neighborhood.  I get why everyone says Barcelona is an awesome place now :-). I hope this encourages you to step outside the usual touristy things to do, and discover places off the beaten path.

Pinnable:

The Torre Agbar in Poblenou Barcelona #poblenou #barcelona #spain #torreagbar #hipsterbarcelona #mustseebarcelona

The Torre Agbar in the hipster neighborhood of Poblenou Barcelona.

Poblenou Barcelona #poblenou #barcelona #spain #mustseebarcelona #barcelonaitinerary #barcelonaguide #poblenouguide

 

Have you been to Poblenou? Or Barcelona? Or Spain? Share your experience with us if yes, if not…would you like to visit?