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Whether you’re new in town, a local looking for a fresh source of inspiration or just a traveller passing through, blogs are a great way to learn about the city you’re in. From food to fashion, politics to passports, this month we speak to some of Barcelona’s most prolific bloggers to find out why they write, who they write for and even learn a few tricks of the trade.
The writer wrapped up in wanderlust. www.petitepassport.com
Meet Pauline Egge, a blogger based in Barcelona and Rotterdam whose full-time job is to explore the world and write about her travels. She started Petite Passport five years ago as a way to show her friends and family some of the coolest places she came across. Today Pauline finds her inspiration by biking around the city, as well as receiving recommendations from her readers. “I try to visit them all, but I will only write about it when it touches my heart,” she said. Her advice to those who want to start a blog, but they’re not sure how to get started? “Find your niche, open a free wordpress account and get started. By doing what you love, you will be guided in the right direction by your readers and yourself.” Pauline recently launched Petite Passport online city guides for Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, aimed at the design-minded traveller.
A foodie’s digital dream. www.foodbarcelona.com
Five years ago, Steve Tallantyre, 40, started his blog, Food Barcelona. He was already writing about Catalan and Spanish cuisine for the UK press when a foodie friend in Seville suggested that he should branch out into blogging. “There weren’t many Barcelona food blogs in English back then,” he said. Unlike many bloggers, Steven isn’t interested in his site’s stats. “It isn’t a business,” he said. Regardless of this, Food Barcelona has been instrumental in helping him find other food journalism work and he currently writes restaurant reviews for two of the world’s bestselling guidebook series, Fodor and Rough Guide, and has been hired by the likes of the US Travel Channel. As a blogger, Steve prefers to keep his reviews honest and optimistic. “Cooking is a uniquely human activity, and all humans have bad days sometimes. I offer constructive criticism but generally I prefer to recommend restaurants that I think people will enjoy.”
Celebrating the little things in big cities. www.driftwoodjournals.com
Driftwood Journals is written by 31-year-old Ben Holbrook, originally from South Wales. He first moved to Barcelona in 2010, before heading back to London for three years. Whilst in the UK, however, he couldn’t stop thinking about Barcelona and consequently returned to the city seven months ago. Ben launched Driftwood Journals as a way to write about Barcelona, as well as other cities he comes across on his travels. “I had always wanted to be a travel writer and setting up Driftwood Journals was my way of making it happen,” he said. It is the small, intangible things that inspire Ben to write his blog, such as “the smell of pine trees warming in the sun” and “the sound of paella pans sizzling at the beach”. Driftwood Journals is all about capturing and celebrating those fleeting moments when everything is perfect. “Everything is interesting, everything is beautiful, at least if you look at it in the right way.”
Keeping your eyes and ears open. www.homagetobcn.com
Born in London, Rob Dobson first came to Barcelona almost five years ago. Today he runs a London-based search-engine marketing business and all of his clients are in the UK. However, he sees Barcelona as a beautiful part of the world to be in, and consequently shares his time between the two cities. Rob launched his blog, Homage to BCN, just six months after he arrived in the city because, firstly, blogs were always something he pushed to his clients, but he didn’t actually have one himself. The second reason was to get to know Barcelona that little bit more. “I felt it would keep my eyes and ears open and encourage me to discover the city to a greater extent than I would do otherwise,” he said, adding “It is purely a hobby and a way to discover the city.” Rob’s advice to those wishing to start a blog is to find a niche, let your online voice develop and write often.
An expat’s perspective. www.latitudefortyone.com
Originally from sunny Orange County, California, Justine Ancheta, 37, has been based in Barcelona since 2008. She set up her blog, Latitude Forty-one, in December 2013 as a way to build a portfolio for herself as a freelance writer. As well as enabling her to develop her writing skills, the blog has also given her the opportunity to practise her photography. She designed the layout herself using a free Wordpress account (which she found simple to use once she had done a little research) and before she went live she made sure that she had at least 12-14 posts ready and waiting. She finds blogging fun and aims to post every two weeks. On her blog you will find local recommendations, travel tips and more for Barcelona and beyond.
The politics of blogging. www.thebadrash.com
Tom Clarke, 34, moved here to be with his Catalan girlfriend. The couple are now married and live in Cerdanyola, just north of the city. Like many people, Tom started his blog as a way to share interesting links and thoughts on a range of subjects. That was over a decade ago. His interest in Catalan and Spanish politics has grown over the years and he realised that there weren’t many English voices covering the topic. Today, Tom aims his blog at anyone who is curious about a foreigner’s view on life and politics in Catalunya. “Barcelona is currently living through some fascinating times in terms of politics,” he said, adding, “Arguably it’s one of the most politically interesting cities in Europe at the moment.”
If you’re not a political animal, it’s worth checking out Tom’s other blog, tombcn.com.
...from California to Catalunya. www.barcelonablonde.com
Jessica Bowler, 26, started her blog in 2009 whilst studying abroad in the south of Spain. Her original plan was to keep her friends and family back home updated on her adventures, but it was only a matter of weeks before she gave up. A few years later, she moved to Barcelona and picked up the blog again, this time taking it more seriously. “I changed my approach, and at some point I realised other people were reading my posts,” she said. Jessica writes about Barcelona, Spain as a whole, living abroad and international travel, and today her blog has almost 1,000 likes on Facebook. Like so many others, blogging has created amazing opportunities for Jessica. “I’ve had a photo published in the L.A. Times travel section, which was a huge deal for me. I got to be a ‘Barcelona Insider’ for STA Travel, and I was on ‘House Hunters International’ a few months ago,” she said, and that’s not all. “My latest project is a travel television show about Spain called ‘Let’s Go! Spain’.” So, what’s the secret to being such a successful blogger? “A lot of it is just asking and putting yourself out there,” she said. “I’m still shy about asking for things, but I try to remind myself that it never hurts to ask.”
A stylish voice. www.tendenciasaldente.com
Maria Almenar, 31, is a fashion journalist from Igualada, now living in Barcelona. She set up Tendencias al dente in 2011 as a way to share her passion for fashion and design, as well as other disciplines, such as literature and architecture. Blogging is not Maria’s full time profession; she currently works as a freelance journalist for newspapers, magazines and radio, where she provides fashion recommendations. It is important to her that what does go on her blog is of good quality and worth reading. “I’m not interested in superfluous content or things without meaning,” she said. Everything included in her blog has a reason to be there. When she first launched the blog, it was important for her to have an audience and fixed number of followers, but now she is more relaxed about stats and analytics. Career wise, she is happy with the opportunities that her blog has opened up and is now enjoying working professionally in the fashion world.