Teresa Parker blogs about restaurants, recipes, and the reasons why she's in love with Spain's food and culture.
A much-younger-than-me friend Katie is spending one of those college-semesters-abroad in Barcelona right now. When she asked about non-touristy things to do, I had to admit that I now go to bed approximately 8 hours before the bars start to rock. So I told her about the Ateneu Barcelonès, one of the quietest non-commercial and considerately secular places to go when Barcelona is just too, well, too LOUD. If you're staying in the city for a while, consider joining so you can use the reading rooms and quiet bar overlooking a palm-tree filled courtyard. Many Ateneu events are open to the public, and its old-fashioned spaces and small audiences made up of local bookish-folk will take you far from the maddening crowds. For Catalan and Spanish-speakers, there are plenty of meaty debates and talks to attend, but there's also music and some movies that transcend the language gap. The agenda is posted in the lobby and on the Ateneu's website about one month in advance of events. There's a restaurant on ground level, L'Ateneu, open to the public, with a perfectly decent 12 Euro weekday menú del día lunch (between 1 and 4pm). Ateneu Barcelonès, C/Canuda, 6 Barcelona 93-343-61-21 (resto: 93-318-52-38)