In our new series The One, we collect definitive travel tips and recommendations from the well-travelled. Here, the editor and publisher of Apartamento Magazine, fashion photographer, and restaurateur, Nacho Alegre, talks to us about his fear of flying, realist novels and his must-visit spots in Barcelona.
What’s the one thing you love about travel?
Since I live in Barcelona, which is a bit on the periphery of the fashion world, my job involves travelling all the time for work – but I think that has become very normal to our generation. I also travel a lot for the magazine, as one of my business partners lives in Berlin, and one in New York. For me, travel is about receiving new inputs, being aware of what is happening around the world, meeting people, and having friends in many places.
What is the one thing that cures your jet lag?
For jet lag, there’s nothing like being able to sleep on the plane: it changes the whole picture. Unfortunately, I am quite scared of flying, so I find it hard to sleep, and I’m tense while flying which means I get tired. I try to fly at night and not eat or drink anything during the flight. Then, when I’m off the plane, I try to drink a lot of water. Sometimes wine helps with sleeping too. Earplugs are essential for blocking the noise out on a plane: it changes the experience completely, makes it slightly more bearable, and it does affect how tired you get.
What’s the one book you’d always turn to in transit?
When I’m travelling, I like to take books like Anna Karenina, the Buddenbrooks, or any other realist novel. They’re easy to read and very, very long, so you don’t have to carry too many books around.
What is the one item that you always steal (or want to steal) from a hotel?
I have a thing for stealing hotel ashtrays. They are becoming uncommon though. I think if I could take anything from a hotel it would be the ashtrays, matches and coasters.
“Earplugs are essential for blocking the noise out on a plane: it changes the experience completely, makes it slightly more bearable, and it does affect how tired you get.”
“It’s rare that I travel without my Smythson currency case, especially for international travel.”
Sadly, the one thing I couldn’t travel without is probably my computer. My music and my podcasts are also important, and I love the radio. I also never travel without a set of clean clothes for landing. The smell of the plane after a long flight is hardcore. It’s rare that I travel without my Smythson currency case, especially for international travel.
How would you spend one day in your home city, Barcelona?
At home I go to Pinotxo in La Boqueria for breakfast, although tourists are making it hard now. It’s good to go at 6am, which I can manage because I’m not partying that much anymore. Also, La Pubilla in Gracia is good – both are for “fork and spoon” breakfasts, not for every day. For lunch, I’ll go to Bon, this salad only place, which is great for everyday lunch. The Smile of Barcelona is good for lunch, too: it’s quite ugly, in a trying-to-be-cool way, but the salads are perfect. We ate there every day for more than two years until we moved the office further away. For dinner, it depends: when I land late in Barcelona I go to Servicio Continuo, which is my own restaurant. You can eat dinner until 3am there. So it’s a perfect stop before getting in bed. I also own a cocktail bar but I don’t really enjoy cocktails that much anymore – I like a plain gin and tonic above all else. I like Il Giardinetto which is probably the most beautiful bar in Barcelona, also Belvedere is a good bar that also does great food. For a really cheap eat, there’s this place called La Plata that only does battered sardines and a tomato salad. No other option. And no need, it’s great.
Where is the one unexpected place you always visit?
There’s one place that I love to shop in: it’s this kitsch fantasia called La Basilica Galería. They have a lot of fun stuff and really good perfumes. It’s on the border of bad taste, but I love it.”
What’s your one tip for relaxing in the city?
In Barcelona, in the summer, it’s possible to rent a small sailing boat (a laser) for about 20€ for a couple of hours. That is real luxury. Going to work after that is magic; I want to do it more often this coming summer. If you’re a tourist, I’d recommend going running in Carretera de Les Aigües in the evening: you’ll see the most beautiful view of the city from the mountain. Also, rent a paddleboard or take windsurfing lessons or something that makes you enjoy the sea more than just lying on the beach.What’s your one go-to outfit for travel?
A cashmere jumper: Ralph Lauren cashmere cable sweaters; otherwise, Uniqlo serves its purpose. A blue polo shirt: Cos makes good ones in cotton or silk. A couple of t-shirts, in white or grey. There’s a Spanish brand, Shon Mott, who makes very nice ones. I generally try to wear clothes that are neutral and fit any situation. I always try to travel with some lace-up shoes, as back-up shoes, in case I need to go more formal – but normally I just wear boots. Church’s are the best for both. No discussion. For toiletries, I often have to buy on landing as I forget them, but I try to go around with Dr Bronner’s Soap. I’ve got very dry skin and this one works. I find it strange because it feels like detergent. But it’s not. I use my Burlington Washbag to carry everything when I travel, I couldn’t leave my home without it.
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About This Series
The One: The definitive guide to the one thing that you must do in a city, take on your journey, or wear when you get there: from the best sashimi restaurant in Osaka, to the perfect travel-sized moisturiser; that one dress that never creases, to the place for late-night paella in Madrid. Take advice from the people who’ve seen it all, and never find yourself stuck queuing for a tourist trap again.