Barcelona’s Top 5 Travel Experiences

Armed with sunscreen and blister bandages, fashionista Christine DaCosta tackles Barcelona’s best travel moments while wearing her finest footwear.

“Always look your glamourous best in sexy Barcelona,” says Christine, “after all, you never know when you’ll be asked to tango.” In addition, well-dressed tourists are often treated more favourably than their more casual counterparts.

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1. Once you can get past the big lambs’ heads with their eyeballs intact (eww!), marvel at the order and peace at Market Santa Catarina. Unlike its larger, more well-known cousin, the Mercat de Sant Josep or La Boqueria, this one is easier to explore and more civilized. There are lovely restaurants inside too.

2. Housed in five adjoining medieval palaces, Museu Picasso focuses on the artist’s early years of formal training, exposing his classical skill and culminating in a collection from his well-documented Blue Period. Born in Andalusia, young Picasso moved to Barcelona when his father took a job teaching at the Escola de Belles Artes de la Llotja. The adult artist claimed he learned everything during his time in Barcelona.

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3. All that shopping does some damage to your mani pedi so stop in at Pink Peony for a little overhaul. It’s a North American style salon set on the second floor above the Passeig de Gràcia. The gracious living room setting features a balcony overlooking the busy street.

4. A warm welcome and second helpings await those who sign up for a cooking class at Cook and Taste. The Australians who were cooking on the day I visited were quite happy making paella having shopped at the market earlier in the day. Book in advance.

Dabble Savvy: The location is just steps from the Roman Ruins so ask for directions.

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5. Some people love Hop On, Hop Off bus tours and Barcelona has two main operators. A 24 hour ticket gets you a ride to all the city’s attractions, which are difficult to get to without a car.

 

Charleston’s Top 5 Food Experiences

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ABOVE: Patrick and wife Fanny Panella warmly greet guests in the ambrosial wine bar at Bin 152.

1. If you’re looking for a great French experience in Charleston, you’ll find it at 39 Rue de Jean. Or, pair a light meal of cheese and meat with a perfect wine from Bin 152. Diners love the décor, and fortunately everything is for sale.

2. A trip to the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square on Saturdays is sure to satisfy any craving. Come hungry and try Street Hero’s banh mi sandwiches or tacos, Charleston Crepe Company’s savoury or sweet pancakes and Roots Ice Cream’s small batch flavours like cucumber-mint, beet or caramelized fig.

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ABOVE: A chicken satay pizza with peanut sauce and cilantro? Yes. Jeff Johnson from Zahh Pizza makes it in the wood fired oven of his food truck.

3. Food trucks are gaining in popularity around Charleston which now boasts a total of eight diners on wheels. HELLO My Name is BBQ is at the Food Truck Rodeo on Saturdays (have a beer braised BBQ Pork sandwich, yum). Try a Chicken Satay Pizza with peanut sauce from Zahh Pizza. Jeff makes the dough from scratch and cooks the pizza in 90 seconds. Follow them on Facebook to find where they are headed next.

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ABOVE: Quite possibly the best dish in Charleston is the John’s Island Tomato Tarte Tatin created by FIG’s Executive Chef, Mike Lata.

4. You can’t go all the way to Charleston without eating some good ol’ Southern food. Maverick Southern Kitchens operates two fabulous restaurants on East Broad Street: Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) and High Cotton. Try the shrimp and grits at both locations. Tip: Don’t fill up on the wonderful corn bread they serve…or do. If you feel like learning how to make a Southern dish, visit Cooks right across the street and participate in a cooking class.

5. Whether you are just looking for a quick meal or a tasty coffee, visit Caviar and Bananas. First, the name is fun to say and second, it’s a beautiful gourmet store and café.