From March 10 to 12, the world-famous Spannabis festival returns to the fair city of Barcelona for three days of unmissable cannabis-related events, talks, products and parties. If you're headed to Barcelona for Spannabis, it's wise to stay informed about what’s what in the city. It’s a big place that can be a little overwhelming at times, especially when one has experimented with a little too much of the locally available cannabis!
What To Do
Barcelona is absolutely packed with great things to see and do, both cannabis-related and otherwise. If it’s cannabis-based activities that you're looking for, then a trip to the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum should certainly be first on the list. This little gem is a sister company of the world-famous seed bank, Sensi Seeds, and it offers a wonderful array of artifacts from past and present, documenting the long history of hemp and cannabis in Spain and beyond.
Happening at the same time as Spannabis is a selection of other important annual events, including the Dab-a-Doo Cup (apparently now sold out), the Cannabis Champions Cup and the World Cannabis Conferences (accessible for no extra charge to all Spannabis attendees). Check their websites for details of the individual events.
Where to Smoke
The question of getting access to Barcelona’s numerous cannabis social clubs is complicated. To enter a club, one must be a member or an employee; and to become a member, most clubs require an introduction/referral, and many require proof of residence. There is no law that stipulates that club members must be residents of Barcelona, but many clubs operate under this policy in order to placate the ever-suspicious police, and several will only accept new members in possession of an NIE number (basically a Social Security number), which plenty of residents don't even have!
On the other hand, there are plenty of clubs that are prepared to relax or bend the rules to allow non-residents to become members, and there will be plenty of people at Spannabis who are already club members, and who may agree to introduce you if you ask them nicely.
There are even one or two guided tours of Barcelona’s clubs available, of which details can be found via a quick Google search. However, we cannot speak for the reliability or effectiveness of these tours, although some providers state that they can act as referees and help customers become club members.
Where to Stay
For the best experience of Barcelona, it's undoubtedly better to find a hotel, hostel or apartment in one of the following five barrios (neighborhoods):
Vila de Gracia: The Gracia district is just north of the historic center. Narrow streets, vibrant atmosphere, great bars and restaurants. A little more sophisticated and slightly quieter area than the most central parts.
El Born: The southern half of La Ribera barrio, El Born is situated in the Ciutat Vella (Old City) district. Extremely trendy and wildly popular with students, expats and young professionals, this barrio is teeming with arty cafes, galleries and boutique shops.
El Raval: Along with El Gotico, El Raval is one of the most touristy and busy parts of the Ciutat Vella, and while its narrow, ancient streets are wonderful and pleasantly confusing, it can be a little loud, dirty and perhaps not the safest barrio. Expect tourist prices, but great bargains can be found in the tiny boutiques that line its alleyways.
El Gotico: This barrio, along with its twin El Raval, make up the two areas that sit either side of famous La Rambla, the spacious promenade that leads from Plaça de Catalunya (“Catalonia Square”) down to Port Vell at the water’s edge. Just as busy, multi-cultural and fascinating as El Raval, and just as insalubrious!
La Barceloneta: Also in Ciutat Vella, but down by the beach, La Barceloneta is generally a wonderful little village within a city. Barceloneta can be horribly touristy and overly hot in the heart of summer, but at the start of spring, the fresh sea air and minimal tourist presence is refreshing and enjoyable.
Where to Eat
Barcelona has some fantastic places to eat, from tiny tapas bars to mighty Michelin-starred restaurants. It's possible to choose from a vast range of cuisines from all across the world, with Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern traditions all well-represented. Here’s a few of our picks from the central barrios.
Taverna Pa i Oli (Spanish): A wonderful, whimsical tapas bar serving their sophisticated take on the classic tapas dishes. This place also has a great selection of well-priced wines from the surrounding regions.
Ramen-ya Hiro (Japanese): This recent newcomer to Vila de Gracia already has hordes of hungry locals eagerly flocking to queue outside its doors every lunchtime, and the fact that many are prepared to wait upwards of 40 minutes says a lot about its quality!
Surya Pau Claris (Indian): A great little Indian restaurant that is very popular with locals, which serves fantastic homemade vadas (a variant on samosas, and much tastier!) and a speciality Butter Chicken that melts in the mouth. Surya is located in Eixample district, which borders Ciutat Vella.
El Café Blueproject (World Cuisine): In El Born, this little, raw food, vegan café will delight the tastebuds with the freshest, finest ingredients, and dishes that will appeal to all foodies, vegan and non-vegan alike.
Igueldo (Spanish/Mediterranean): An ideal place to take that special someone, or for big groups of industry members to drop some serious paper on giant steaks and far too much great Spanish wine. Located in Eixample, expect to pay at least €40 per person.
Putxinelli’s (Italian): The finest little pizzeria outside of Italy, run by the charming Roberto from Napoli. Wonderful pizzas baked in the giant stone oven, which is the first thing you'll see when you walk in. Also try the parmigiana di melanzane, it's unbeatable. Located in Sants, away from the center but worth the special mention!
Things to Keep in Mind
Barcelona is generally a very safe city, and it has only gotten safer in recent years, but the risk of robbery in some of the more touristy areas certainly still remains. That said, as long as you are sensible in your actions (keep your eyes open, don't leave your camera bag unattended, and so on), you are unlikely to experience problems.
The main difficulty that many complain of when visiting Barcelona is that it can be hard to find good English speakers. This may be true outside of the more central districts, but in the main touristy areas, pretty much everyone speaks adequate English. Furthermore, picking up a few phrases in Spanish (or even Catalan, for extra points!) is not difficult, and it is a very good way to ease one’s way into wonderful Spanglish (or Catanglish?) conversations that somehow get the job done.
Lastly, many people think that because we’re here in Spain, we must be super warm all the time. This is not true in Barcelona. It's certainly warmer than a lot of Europe right now, but it's definitely not quite t-shirt and shorts weather. Dress appropriately!
So, now that you're armed with all the salient facts, we hope you have a wonderful time at Spannabis 2017 in Barcelona!