Posted by Ric Garrido

I have to laugh at myself for my initial reaction last week to the Poblenou Barrio of Barcelona. Judging the neighborhood on the two blocks from the Llacuna Metro stop to the Holiday Inn Express City 22 is like judging the InterContinental San Francisco based on the approach from Sixth and Mission. Approach the InterContinental San Francisco from that direction and you are likely to see drunks passed out on the street and cops walking the beat busting low-lifes. Approach InterContinental SF from Third Street and you will see luxury hotels like the St. Regis and W San Francisco, Moscone Convention Center and Yerba Buena Park with fountains, memorials and a modern entertainment complex.

This is what I initially saw upon stepping out of the Barcelona Llacuna Metro station last week to walk two blocks to the Holiday Inn Express.

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Poblenou district of Barcelona outside Llacuna Metro station.

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One block from Holiday Inn Express – City 22, Barcelona midway between Llacuna Metro station and hotel.

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Holiday Inn Express, Poblenou, Barcelona

I stayed two nights at the HIX hotel and my only real complaint is I never figured out how to work the AC and the temperature in the room reached 80 degrees F. (26 Celsius).

On the third day of my stay I finally walked one block the opposite direction of the Llacuna Metro Station to find Rambla del Poblenou which happens to be the same street where Starwood Hotels Four Points Barcelona is located.

I am writing this post the night before flying back to California from the Four Points Barcelona. I just came across this description of Poblenou which I completely agree with on my fourth day staying in this neighborhood of Barcelona.

Poblenou Barcelona: BCN’s Most Underrated Neighborhood

Poblenou Barcelona is one of the most overlooked areas in the city, and in our opinion has many great things to offer and a very high quality of life. Run-down in parts, but very open with tons of light and close to the beach, Poblenou is perfect for anyone who wants to live a slightly more ‘tranquilo’ lifestyle but also have complete and easy access to the craziness of the city centre.

Pros:

  • Cost of living-wise, you’ll get much more bang for your buck in Poblenou, and that’s always a good thing.
  • Close, close, close to some of the better Barcelona Beaches (LINK) like Bogatell & Mar Bella.
  • The regeneration of the area is making many parts of it quite beautiful, with green open spaces, parks, etc… If you have a family, or are adverse to the concrete jungle that is the old city, you can rejoice in Poblenou’s laid-back sunny disposition.

Cons:

  • While out in the street it’s not uncommon to catch a whiff of some beautiful smelling sewage.
  • In some areas there’s a bit of a lack of bars and commerce. That’s about it! This is a great neighborhood to live in!

http://suitelife.com/barcelona-barrio-neighborhood-guide/poblenou-barcelona/

As far as the ‘con’ of sewage, I have to say that I caught that whiff in some locations around Poblenou and other districts of Barcelona on this trip. The sewage smell is something I have always associated with Barcelona from my first visit in 1975 and again in 1999. I also associate rats with Barcelona based on my two previous stays and I am so happy to report that I have not seen a single rat this trip after 11 days in Catalunya, Spain.

(I did see rats in NYC this month and when I stepped into the grass of a park trying to photograph some, even more rats went scurrying out of the park’s open grass space and into the bushes.)

Enough of the shitty parts of Barcelona (no pun intended).

Here is the other side of Poblenou, Barcelona.

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Mercadona Supermercado, seen behind all the eco-friendly recycling bins all over Barcelona, is the “Safeway” of the Catalonia region based on the number of Mercadona markets I have seen in various towns during the past 11 days. This supermarket is one block from the Holiday Inn Express City 22 and three blocks from Four Points Barcelona.

If only I could live on baguettes (0.45 €), a large slice of brie (1.05 €), 100 g. of 72% dark chocolate bar (0.78 €), and BEER (from 0.45 € to 1.00 € per bottle depending on the brewery).

I am loving the beer. The Four Points Barcelona has a daily happy hour from 6-7pm and I paid 3.20€ (about USD $4.40) at the Four Points hotel bar for a super-size Estrella draught beer about 0.66 L. Estrella seems to be the Budweiser of Catalunya, although with much more flavor as a European lager.

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The 1.00€ beer I am drinking from the Mercadona Supermercado is Cruzcampo Gran Reserva 6.4% Alc. in a brown bottle. The sign at the market said this beer won the world beer award for best strong lager. Personally I think it is pretty damn tasty.

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A feast for under 5.00 € for my last night in Spain.

Remember last week when I said I had taken out 140.00 € for this 12 day trip to Spain?

I still have 40€ in my wallet.

There is good value in TBEX conferences and press trips!

Just wait until I post about the hotels where I stayed and the meals I ate.

My credit card has about 535€ (about USD$700) in hotel charges for the 8 hotel nights I paid out of pocket. Most of the bloggers I met at TBEX sounded like their average hotel night was between 30 and 50 euros.

People working in the Costa Brava region said I stayed at the nicest hotel in Girona. I will post a review of my four night stay at the Hotel Carlemany where I realized after the second morning I was paying 14€ for buffet breakfast that was NOT part of the room rate. The breakfast was good, but I was not eating enough to justify the rate.

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Rambla del Poblenou, Barcelona.

I apologize if this is a rambling post on Ramblas. The past ten nights in Spain have afforded me an average of probably 5 hours per night sleep.

During this trip to Spain I have often thought of that sign I saw earlier this month in the Village of New York City:

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“You can sleep when you’re dead #DontGoHome.” – New York City.

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What I love about Rambla del Poblenou is this street looks like a district where residents have easy access to the services they need.

One alteration in Spain from the US is the presence of fruit markets. There are supermarkets like Mercadona, yet there are still specialty markets easily found for the shopper who wants better quality foods.

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12.80€ per kg of calamari (USD$7.50/pound) in a fish shop on Rambla del Poblenou, Barcelona.

I watched calamari fresh off the ship sell at the fish market auction in Blanes three days ago for about 10€ per kg when our press trip visited the facility at the Costa Brava port.

I think I ate a kilogram or two of calamari during the Costa Brava TBEX blogger meals. I was definitely the person eating the most calamari at the sponsored meals where there were generally 10 or 12 diners. Every lunch and dinner on the Costa Brava press trip had calamari and usually some was left on the group appetizer plates during each meal after I had reached calamari capacity.

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Monument on Rambla del Poblenou, Barcelona.

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Dr. Josep Trueta Raspall was a Catalan who was chief of Barcelona trauma services during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). He lived in exile in England after the civil war. He became Professor of Orthopaedics at Oxford University. He wrote a book, The Spirit of Catalonia, to explain Catalan history to English speakers.

One thing that has been apparent to me during this trip is the strong desire of many people in Catalunya to become an independent country from Spain.

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“Catalonia, next independent state in Europe”

This week there has been some significant legislative steps taken in the direction of gaining independence. I will have to read the developments in English to make sense of the Spanish and Catalonian print and TV articles I have seen in media this week.

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Joan Garcia Oliver – I also learned this week that Joan is a man’s name (Juan)in Catalunya. I have to love a plaque on Rambla del Poblenou for a trade unionist. This man was another revolutionary against Franco who lived in exile after the Spanish Civil War.

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Balcony beauty on Rambla del Poblenou, Barcelona.

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“Oh my God tapas!” on the restaurant sign along Rambla del Poblenou gave me a laugh seeing this after having written “Oh my Gaudi, I’m in Barcelona” last week; one day after arriving in Spain.

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All the umbrellas seen in this photo are for center street café seating. It looked to me like the cost of sitting at a table in the pedestrian zone street is typically a 0.50€ surcharge.

Café life is beautiful on the streets of Barcelona.

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Large residential block near the beaches of the Poblenou district of Barcelona.

The beach is a 10 to 20 minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express City 22 or Four Points Barcelona depending on how quickly you want to be at the seashore.

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This is the view from the older residential towers seen in the photo above looking south from the Poblenou to the Hotel Arts Ritz-Carlton Barcelona tower.

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Parc del Poblenou, Barcelona.

I doubt the residents of the Poblenou are focused on the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts when their other view looking east is the beach.

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The beaches of Poblenou, Barcelona.

This is why I had to laugh at my initial reaction to El Poblenou, Barcelona.

You can be a tourist in the city center where there is plenty of tourist action or you can be 15 minutes away from the heart of Barcelona by Metro while living “tranquilo life” in El Poblenou staying at hotels like Holiday Inn Express City 22 or Four Points Barcelona.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

11 Responses

  1. What? No pictures of the rooms, the gym, the lobby, or the toilet amenities?! Ric, don’t fawn all over the Westin’s of this world without paying *some* token respect to the Four Points that are out there!

    Besides, we all know that you are more of a Four Points-Holiday Inn Express kind of guy (we can tell by your frugal dinner) so don’t try to hide that!

    Anyway, it was fun to see all the places I went to just 2 months ago…I even had the same large beer there!

  2. If you want to see real cafe life and outdoor food shops and the Shuk, or outdoor vendor market, and good wearer, you should see Tel Aviv. And I agree, all that attention and photos of the Westin are unnecessary….let’s show some other properties.

  3. Are you referring to W Barcelona? Or Westin NY? Maybe I am too tired, but I do not understand the Westin comments.

    The hotel reviews of each of the properties in Spain will come after I get sleep. They need more concentration to write than I have at the moment.

    This Four Points Barcelona is one of my favorite hotels I stayed. The view is fantastic of the Barcelona hills and city lights.

    I am tired of eating after six huge meals the past three days.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on September 27th, 2012 at 9:39 pm
  4. @Ric, sorry, I meant the W Barcelona. Glad to read that you will also write-up these rather proletariat hotels too! :-)

  5. One last thing: if you are still at the Four Points and you are still overstuffed, then hit the gym at the top floor. You have a nice view of the Pobelnou area, down towards the beach….

  6. Hi Ric,

    I have stayed at this hotel last year when Delta had
    the super low $300ish RT fare to Barcelona from ORD. I used cash and points and found this hotel to be decent value. Specially with free breakfast and Internet access for Priority Club Platinum member. Room is clean (TV is too small- 15″). I walked to beach then all the way to the The Columbus Monument. Barcelona is a great walking city.

    Thanks for sharing these photos …

  7. The mention of rats and sewage in Barcelona is kind of odd for a travel post. I should explain myself more.

    In 1975 I was 15 and my family spent a week camping near Barcelona. One day we went into the city and I walked around residential streets on my own.

    There was an alley I passed with a large pile of food waste garbage and one of the freakiest things I have ever seen was dozens of rats running along the street, over and around the heap of food waste in mid-day.

    It really was a powerful image to see as a teenager that I could not disassociate from Barcelona.

    In 1999 my wife and I visited Barcelona and on Christmas day we were in a park and looked into an empty fountain to see some rats.

    So I am happy to report that I saw no rats in Barcelona during my five days in the city on this trip.

    I worked in sewage treatment in Carmel as one of my jobs 30 years ago. Unfortunately there are still some smelly sections of the city where sewer gas odor comes up from the streets. But the smell was less present than I found in the past.

    Barcelona has plenty of beauty, but also some big city issues.

  8. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express City 22 last March as our first stop in our 18 days in Spain. Fully agree with your comments on it and the local area.

  9. [...] far right is Hotel Arts, Ritz-Carlton at the beach and near Olympic Village area. Read my post on Tranquilo Life in Poblenou Barcelona to see photos and my description of Rambla del Poblenou and the 15 minute walk to the [...]

  10. [...] Tranquilo life in Poblenou, Barcelona (Sep 27, 2012) [...]

  11. [...] Tranquilo life in Poblenou, Barcelona(Sep 27, 2012) [...]

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