Barcelona, Spain

January 2018

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has been on our travel list since we, admittedly and perhaps belatedly, discovered tapas. I think our first “real” tapas experience was in Boston at Barcelona Wine Bar , as good a revelation/introduction to Spanish wine and food as one could ever hope, and we have been seeking out Spanish restaurants ever since. We were also fortunate that a Spanish restaurant open near us- Despana– which serves a terrific rendition of tapas and paella (and BYO!). With food serving as our introduction or, *ah-hem* appetizer, to Spanish/Catalan culture, we knew Barcelona would be a great fit for our next adventure.

A few things to know about Barcelona before we get started:

  • Spanish is not Catalan – people will respond if you speak Spanish but to really connect learn a few phrases in Catalan- we used this YouTube video which seemed to match up with what we heard around the city.
  • Water- we like to stay well hydrated, so when our Airbnb host told us the tap water is less than tasty, it chafed us slightly to know we would have to spend money on water. We bought a big 8 liter container for our water bottle refills but at restaurants there was no tap option. It is not that the tap water is bad for you or will make you sick but it does have an overt chlorinated/pool water which is less than desirable.
  • Sundays, Mondays, and whenever they feel like it, shops and restaurants will close. We had a rough time on Sunday and Monday of our trip as many places are traditionally closed. While we planned around in advance, the more frustrating piece was that places that advertised as open decided to close for the day, sending us on quite a wild goose chase to find things to do. After January 6 is considered a slow time for the city so prepare to be flexible with your itinerary.
  • Late nights- Barcelona is one of the “latest” cities we have been to and that was without exploring the nightlife scene. People were out well into the early hours of the morning and sometimes not eating dinner until after 11PM. We made our  dinner reservations for 8:30PM but had we known how late the city stays up, we may have made them for later. However, even with an 8:30PM reservation, we were not out of the restaurants until after 11PM. On the flip side, the city is quite quiet in the morning so be patient if you are an early riser.
  • Paella- when we ordered paella for the first time, I was puzzled by our bill… it was almost double what we had expected it to be. Realizing we were charged per person for the paella, I found out that it is common to charge per person and not per order. So if a menu states there is a minimum of two people for the paella order or indicates you are sharing for two, you will most likely be paying double the listed price. The second time we ordered paella, I made it clear it was only for me (which it was) so there would be no misinterpreting the amount charged.
  • Outdoor seating- while this did not affect us since it was winter time, it is common for an extra charge to be added if you sit outside when dining since the waiter needs to walk farther to accommodate your table. It is also the more desired option when the weather is nice. Read the fine print on the menu hung at the door and do not be surprised or offended at this extra fee.
  • Metro- the metro system is fairly good at getting you around the city and was easy to use. Consider getting the T10 card which included 10 rides as it totaled 10.20 euros whereas an individual ride ticket was 2.20 euros- works out economically if you will use it a few times. Kevin and I bought one T10 and ended up going through it by our third day so bought a second one of which we were left with 2 rides. This was definitely the cheaper option than using ride sharing or taxis. Also, everywhere on this map is Zone 1.

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Thursday

Our scheduled flight was an 11PM eye red on Wednesday so with the time difference, we landed in Barcelona around noon on Thursday. We used the Aerobus service to take us straight into Barcelona to Plaça de Catalunya. This bus service was very easy to use and would recommend for anyone needing to get into the center of the city or go to the airport. The metro is good but there is not an easy way to get from the airport to the city center. We did use the metro a lot when getting around the city. When we walked through Plaça de Catalunya we noticed some outdoor sculptures, hundreds of pigeons and some fountains- a nice area once you navigate the people trying to sell you selfie-sticks.

Our Airbnb was several blocks down La Rambla in the El Raval neighborhood. It was a great location and very comfortable- not to mention a very friendly host! Would definitely recommend his place if the location works for you- it is far enough off of La Rambla, which can be densely populated with tourists at times. This Airbnb, like many in old cities, does not have a lift so climbing up and down stairs is common- this time it was 93 steps one way. We are not deterred by it (built in exercise!) but make sure when booking in any European city you check the stair count. You will most likely pay more for the luxury of a lift.

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After settling in, we were ready to explore! Close to our place was the Mercado de La Boqueria similar to markets we have seen in other European cities including our local Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.

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The stands were full of fish, fruit, nuts. Candy, meats, cheese, chocolates and other flashy and bright items that makes the stands look like art. Starving from our journey, we sat at Pinotxo Bar for our first taste of Spanish food.

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At the bar you can see all the items up for order and once you select, the staff will cook it for you. We ordered gambas top left, calamari in white beans top right, and snails in a sauce bottom left. Everything was delicious but it was definitely overpriced, which we expected coming into a tourist destination like this market. The gambas, just four of them, totaled 17 euro and I do not think anything on the trip matched that per item cost.

We got out of La Rambla and proceeded to meander somewhat aimlessly to get a feel for the city, admiring the building facades and architecture. Eventually, we stumbled upon the Cathedral and decided to check it out.

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Inside was a different image than we have grown to expect from a European cathedral- it showed its age. The ceiling of cascading vaults was dim and the stone drab, while the sculptures and artwork had faded gold. It was actually a refreshing look for us. It did not scream money or wealth or power, but instead a deferential dignity of an old church that had been used for hundreds of years. The cathedral allows guests to walk the roof on the scaffolding that is currently being used to renovate the exterior. We were able to get our first panoramic view of the city and it was wonderful- we could see the ocean and the ships in the marina as well as familiar sights that we would be seeing during our stay- our perfect map of Barcelona.

An addendum to the lack of shiny, florid decor so typical of most Cathedrals. To gain some perspective on Spain, Kevin was reading George Orwell’s book “Homage to Catalonia” about the author’s time serving the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. He mentions that when Barcelona was seized by the revolutionaries, they looted and burned many of the churches. It may be a stretch, but we speculated that they may be why the few older churches we saw had plain, worn interiors.

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With a serious cafe culture, Kevin was looking for his first spot to get his cortado fix and found the nearby Satan’s Coffee Corner. While the drink was the priciest at 2.20 euro, it did win his favorite cortado of the trip.

With a late night ahead and less than ideal sleeping on our flight (for me at least), we headed back to our place for quick power naps before heading out to dinner at Ciudad Condal. We first asked to be seated for dinner service, but when we saw new vacancies at the crowded bar we decided to give it a try. The bar was covered with tapas! On the bottom were the refrigerated items such as raw seafood while the top counter had pinchos- a piece of bread topped with many varieties and combinations of food.

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Overwhelmed at the decisions, we opted to ease our way in with the ‘assorted tapas’ option on the menu.

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Croquetas, fried small fish, fried peppers (labeled as ‘hot’ but Kevin did not think so- we came across no spicy food in Barcelona. Happy for me, but do not expect spicy food when coming here), gambas, and small clams were all included. After observing other people order and getting to know our servers, we took the next step and ordered items from the bar.

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Since we were seated away from the pinchos, I got up to the area of the bar (since I had no way of identifying the items from afar- I had no idea what most of the items even were!) and had the waiter follow me as I pointed to the various items we wanted (a practice I watched someone else do before me).

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We got several different options- croquetas, salmon, beef, some kind of melted cheese- all of which were so delicious. The fun part for us was watching what everyone else was eating- everything looked amazing and we instantly wanted it all. A few rounds of food and we looked up to see the place was mobbed- people outside waiting to grab a seat in the bar area- we clearly picked a good spot.

On our way out, we noticed a place called Obama Bar at the traffic light. Having to take a closer look, we peeked inside to see a life size statue of the President sitting on a bench. It was just a hilarious thing to see abroad I feel compelled to share with you.

 

The highlight of our evening was our tickets to the FC Barcelona game and Camp Nou against Celta Vigo. After disembarking from the metro, we had an easy time following the Barcelona decked throngs of people to find the stadium. We came prepared with FC Barcelona scarfs which helped given the drop in temperature that evening, but there are plenty of vendors if you wanted to buy gear there.

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The stadium is unbelievably gigantic- it took us at least twenty minutes from the access points closest to the metro just to get to our seats. Our tickets were very inexpensive at 19 euro and afforded us a great view of the game near the goal close to the die hard fans. As the game began, we enjoyed the atmosphere of the fans and listening to the chants. Many people had the “llibertat” signs that were held up several times during the game giving us a glimpse at the active political strife in the region.

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We were happy to watch a 5-0 victory for FC Barcelona and feel fortunate we got to witness all the excitement of the sport (with none of the disappointment! A rare occurrence as a Philadelphia sports fan). Watch some clips of the cheering  and chanting at my instagram.

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Friday

We could not wake up this morning… I think we tried for three hours to get up and it was not happening. Around 11:30AM, we finally got out the door (embarrassing for us, but was necessary). I had planned for us to be at our first sightseeing location by 8:30AM… ha! Be flexible and listen to your tired body- a mantra for vacation.

Around the corner was Forn de Pa Tur bakery worked by a lady with her hair tied back with a scarf and a floral apron- I knew this would be good and it surely was- I got a flaky chocolate stuffed pastry and Kevin got a spiral cream filled and powder covered one, much like the ones we had in Paris. Both were exceptional and I have to say the chocolate in mine was so decadent. Breakfast (or dessert- you decide) win!

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Our day began by visiting Park Güell. We hoped to see the sights without paying but due to the elevation of the park, it is very difficult to get a good view of the popular art below. We got tickets and ventured down at 1PM to the various Gaudí destinations like the the Dragon Stairway, the Hypostyle Room and the Greek Theatre (under construction during our visit).

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The style was so different from what we have seen in the past- it was very enjoyable. Once we saw everything on the lower level, we made our way up into the park to find so many gems tucked away beneath the trees.

With a few options at our disposal, we decided to take the metro to Barceloneta to see the coast. Before walking to the beach, we stopped by Kaiku for lunch. We ordered the chef special paella along with house red wines to enjoy while we waited the 25 minutes for the paella to be complete. In that time, the people around us got their items… seafood soup… mussels… sea urchin… everything looked so good as we waiting patiently for our paella and I think the waiting paid off. Just look at the picture! 

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The rice was swimming in a delicious sauce with calamari, artichokes, mussels, and gambas – a seafood delight and plenty of us to eat. There was certainly stress about getting ‘bad’ paella (explained to us as ‘yellow’ rice paella) so it was a relief to have such a great experience.

Walking off our stomach swimming with seafood, we went right to the ocean. A calm sea with periodic waves rocking the rough sand filled with not shells, but rocks. 

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While there are plenty of people trying to sell you something- blankets, beach tchotchkes – the view was quite lovely. A small boardwalk that was lined with palm trees filled with small green parrots and the outline of the cities buildings in the background. It is sometimes hard to remember that the ocean is so close- literally blocks away- when you are wandering the streets of Barcelona surrounded by towering buildings.

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Our next planned activity was a cheese tasting at 5PM but a scheduling mix up, we were schedule for Saturday instead, luckily still fit into our plans. With too little time to  squeeze in the Picasso Museum nearby before dinner, we headed back in the direction of our Airbnb. Kevin had his eye on exploring the craft beer scene in Barcelona and around the corner was Ølgod, well rated for their extensive tap beer selection. We stopped in and Kevin was instantly impressed with the over 25 beers they had to offer from all over the world.

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We instantly connected with the staff as we exchanged brew stories and favorite beers- some of which were surprisingly local to us and Kevin’s favorites as well- Treehouse and Tired Hands.

We stopped home to freshen up for our tasting dinner at Cinc Sentits.  A tasting menu is something we seek out when visiting a new city as it showcases not only the creative flare of culture but the local ingredients. In our experience, tasting menus demonstrate the flavor profile of traditional ingredients in unique ways. While these experiences are typically more expensive, we try and find reasonable and well rated places, and do them for occasions to keep the finances of the trip within budget. Read about our experience here.

Saturday

Determined to get an earlier start (it was a struggle), we made it out of the apartment by 9AM- we had our reservations for Sagrada Familia at 10AM. Breakfast was a pathetic pastry from one of the chain quick service bakeries- 365 Cafe– (we were completely spoiled by Forn de Pa Tur) but it was enough to get us through the sightseeing.

When planning to visit the Sagrada Familia it is highly recommended to reserve your time slot online (in fifteen minute intervals- ours was 10AM to 10:15AM entrance time). We had our pick of days and times when we booked a few weeks before our trip. I have heard during high seasons, booking farther out is required. 

Ascending the metro, we nearly caused a pedestrian pile-up as we couldn’t help gazing at the magnificent Sagrada Familia before us.

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In an attempt not to spoil moments like these, we try not to view any photos of attractions ahead of time. Even though it is still under construction, the exterior facade is striking. Perhaps it is because it is so different than the European churches of which we have grown accustomed. It is colorful on the tops of the spires (what to us resembled food or fruit) and abstract but completely covered in biblical scenes. Once inside, our jaw continued to drop- it was absolutely enormous inside and nothing like we have ever seen before.

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We learned from an informative video that the exterior is meant to be a living Bible, which should become evident to travelers familiar with Christian theology. The inside is depicted as a living forest with the pillars as trees and the canopy on the ceiling. What impressed us most were the brilliant colors that reflected throughout the church as we sat observing the rainbow of colors through the brilliant stain glass. Needless to say, we greatly enjoyed our time of observation and contemplation here.

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In reflecting on the trip so far, we realized an important component was missing from our typical trips. Guesses?.. Dessert! We have one (or two… sometimes three) desserts a day and is typically ice cream but Barcelona does not seem to have embraced an ice cream scene (there are Italian gelaterias but defeats the purpose of a Spanish dessert) so we sought out other options.

Churros (spelled xurros- there is no “ch-” so if a place advertises “churros”, find a place with “xurros”) was the popular dessert in Barcelona and we found Granja La Pallaresa on our walk home that has been serving Catalan desserts since 1947. 

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Kevin ordered a cortado and we got the traditional Catalan cream top right (their version of creme brulee) and an order of churros with dipping chocolate top left, all of which were very yummy.

Before stopping home, we passed an art festival in the middle of one of the plaça (squares) that we walked through and also popped into a supermarket for freshly squeezed fruit juice. One thing we quickly noticed is that while all the meals are heavy on seafood and bread, there is little to no fruits or vegetables. We could feel our bodies aching for our balanced diets (not to mention a constant state of hydration).

Our next stop was the Picasso Museum for his earlier works, which were surprisingly “normal” and technical. The end of the exhibit displayed his more characteristic works but displayed in a great way. While neither of us quite understands his work, the final rooms showcased many versions of the same famous paintings, almost like the different drafts and alterations made before creating the final one. The museum was smaller than we anticipated- do not need to dedicate more than two hours for this. Take note, they do not permit photos in this museum.

Since finished ahead of schedule, we had time to hop into a tapas bar for some pinchos down the street at Euskal Etxea (we were originally looking for La Xampanyeria but could not find it!). Here the pinchos have wooden sticks slightly larger than toothpicks. Do not throw these sticks out as they are your billing mechanism- you are charged based on how many sticks you have at then end of your meal. 

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At 5PM we had reservations at Formatgeria La Seu for a cheese tasting. The website lists three different tastings you can do (depending on the time) so we picked the lunch tasting for five cheeses and we also each had a glass of wine. We had lovely conversation with Katherine who ran the store and kept us entertained with talk to cheese, Barcelona, and life’s adventures. We would highly recommend visiting! While we did not get a chance, the wine bar Zim next door (which she also staffs) looks like a fun spot. No photos allowed here either.

Before stopping by the place to prep for dinner, we swung into Ølgod to see our new friends at the bar while Kevin enjoyed sampling new beer.

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Our reservation tonight at Can Lluis was recommended to us for a traditional Catalan meal and has quite an extensive history in Barcelona. What we really liked about this menu was the prefix options which would force us to try new things and not fall back on comforts. 

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  • We started with a bottle of Rioja top left
  • The first round of food included cod carpaccio with herbs (raw cod in a sea of tomatoes) top middle, fried whitebait from Vilanova (a variety of fried up small fish) top middle, grilled sea rock mussels middle left, Vermicelli noodle “paella” middle right (traditional dish of short noodles served in a paella pan accompanied with several different sauces middle middle to flavor the noodles- our favorite was the garlic butter)
  • As an entree, we had the choice of four dishes- Kevin chose the steer carpaccio with Parmesan cheese bottom left and I chose the baby squid fried as “andalucia way” bottom middle
  • Lastly we had the “surprise dessert”- sweet bread topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce- that came decked out with a sparkler bottom right

In fact, our lovely servers (sweetest old men with a hard exterior that a smile can break through!) could not keep the “surprise desert” a secret and immediately explained that the bread was battered in egg, milk, cinnamon and sugar then fried- it was essentially french toast! Loved them.

Sunday

Our final full day in Barcelona and we were looking to make progress on all the stars on our Google Maps- we had so many places of interest in the Eixample neighborhood so started our day in that direction. Our Airbnb host insisted we make time to check the Palau de la Música Catalana so that was our first stop.

Since we had a mediocre experience with yesterday’s breakfast pastry, we were set on hitting our favorite bakery around the corner, which was unfortunately closed. This seemed to be a theme of the day (spoiler alert) but place after place was closed on Sunday. Nearby was Citizen’s Cafe Bar but it did not open until 10:30AM which would definitely not leave us enough time for an 11AM tour. By the time we reached 4GATS, we did not have enough time for sit down service. Getting close to our 11AM tour time, we jumped into another chain bakery for what turned out to be even worse pastries than the day before, and Kevin ended up dropping his on the ground anyway. While Barcelona is very regimented on cleaning (they clean the streets at least twice a day and everyone seems to have a high priority for cleanliness) it was not worth trying to save this fraud pastry. With a few minutes to spare, we hopped into Citizen’s Bar- Kevin got a cortado and I got a freshly pressed apple, pear, and orange juice-  to hold us through the tour.

After seeing all the Gaudí architecture, it was refreshing to see a different style by Domènech i Montaner and learning about the different techniques used to make the Palau sparkle with light and color. Like the Sagrada, the idea was to bring life inside the building- this one had a mosaic stained glass sun and was surrounded by roses and other flowers. It was very beautiful inside and we were glad to have made time to see it, despite having a less than ideal breakfast experience along the way.

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Our journey to the Eixample neighborhood started on a mission to get something more sustaining in our tummies but we were quickly distracted by the beautiful buildings that stood out down the block on Passeig de Gràcia. Surprise- more Gaudí! We found Casa Batlló and Casa Milà and while we did not go inside either, (Batlló was almost 30 euro a person and Milà was closed for renovation) viewing the exteriors was great.

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One thing we loved while walking down any street in Barcelona was admiring the various buildings facades- some were so intricate and others were covered with vines and plants, picking which balcony we would want and the buildings with the best light.

Cervecería Catalana was close by so we jumped in for some tapas. We dived on the last two seats at the bar before the place got packed with people.

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Wanting to try something different than what we had already had, we looked at the mounds of fresh sea creatures and the plates of pinchos but when we looked to our right there laid a plate of ibérico ham and tomato bread, also known as “pa amb tomàquet” top left. Our server, a jolly old man, understood clearly when we motioned “I’ll have what they are having” and it worked to our delight. Kevin and I decided to keep this round light since we had several other tapas bars to hit in the area but I figured a cheese plate would go well with our glasses of Spanish Chardonnay. When I told our server we wanted the four cheeses listed in the menu, he shook his head and finger at me and said “No, you want cheese? This” and he pointed to a lollipop of cheese covered in nuts behind the glass bottom right. He heated it up, the nuts got toasted, the cheese melted slightly and he covered it in raspberry jam top right. I am not sure what this is called- definitely a play on fried camembert- but it was delicious. With plenty of room left in our stomachs, we moved onto our next destination as we exited the now packed restaurant.

Taktika Berri was the next stop on the Eixample food tour and with a “tapas” win already under our belt we were excited to see what this place had to offer… until we arrived. We could not believe it was closed! The hours never said it was closed on Sundays so while we were bummed, we had plenty of other options and moved forward.

The staff at Ølgod had recommended going to the Garage Beer Co and while Ølgod showcases some of their beer, the storefront had a wide variety from the brewery that is just outside the city. Garage was also a few blocks away from Taktika Berri so we made our way for a round of beer and snacks. We were once again stunned when the gates were closed here as well. The online hours said noon opening but perhaps it was delayed opening so we remained optimistic on returning later.

Brunch & Cake was just down the street a few blocks from Garage so the promise of more food was motivating for my feet to keep going. On our arrival, it was definitely open with a mob of people waiting for seats- probably well over an hour to get seated. As we walked by, I saw someone eating a salad and a fruit bowl and became jealous of the various food groups present on the menu.  

Analyzing the stars left on our map, we noticed in yet a few more blocks we could be at El Nacional. A beautiful building that used to be a car storage area was converted into a food district (reminds us of Le District in NYC) with segments that specialize in certain food and drink groups. Everything was pretty packed (probably since everything else is closed!) and pricey so after a few laps we moved on.

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It was close to 3PM so we headed back to Garage with no luck- still closed. We were both disappointed with the amount of time we wasted going back and forth to places and that these places had advertised open hours! It was not our day to be in Eixample.

On our way back to the room for some much needed time off of our feet (we did so much walking in those couple hours), we stopped at Chök – the chocolate kitchen for cronuts to treat ourselves since we spent the afternoon striking out. Take a look at these things- it was hard to pick one and yes, it was awesome.

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Before our dinner reservation, we left time for Kevin to grab a beer at Ølgod and then headed to a wine bar recommended by our cheese friend. We walked down La Rambla to Monvinic wine bar for their extensive wine selection. But guess what – it was also closed! We had to laugh. I deliberately checked and confirmed the 7PM open and at our 7:30PM arrival, the gates were down. With over an hour to kill, we decided to head in the direction of dinner and explore that area a bit.

Once we got off the metro at Fontana, we noticed large groups of people going down Carrier Verdi and with all this time on our hands, we decided to follow them. While there wasn’t one thing that was drawing the people down this street, it was the most lively place we had seen all day with a majority of the stores open and people up and about. We felt energized just being in this area.

Recalling that the place for dinner has been open all day (or maybe I should not have assumed that given our track record!), we made our way to Botafumeiro. This establishment is known for their high quality seafood and showcase a wall filled with famous and important people from around the world that have dined here. Upon walking in, we were greeted with a large lobster tank and shelves full of seafood, including the largest crabs we have ever seen. 

The menu was an impressive array of seafood. While at first glance everything looks expensive, there are reasonable options and the staff are able to do half portions of some items. This was perfect for us because we wanted to sample a variety of items without getting full on starters, with the added bonus of reducing the bill. 

I had been dying to try an albariño all trip so when there were several listed on this menu (all very reasonably priced) I was excited to try our server’s recommendation. Terras Gauda from DO Rías Baixas – Rosal with a blend of 70% albariño, 15% caiño , 15% Loureiro top middle– it was the perfect albariño I was looking forward to!

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  • To start, we ordered a small portion of “camarones” (special small prawns) top right which, though small, were very flavorful… and a bit painful to battle with their spikes and other small defense mechanisms.
  • While our next choice was the Tuna Bluefin tartare with avocado, they unfortunately ran out so we opted for the warm crab meat with a mustard cream sauce middle left. Bonus it came with a side salad! This dish was awesome, like a loosely made crab cake with only crab meat. Juicy and sweet meat that pairs nicely with the mustard cream.
  • As an entree, Kevin ordered the turbot special which was a gigantic piece of fish when it came out bottom left. Just look at the size of the spinal cord in the photo bottom middle! He said it was very flavorful and meaty. He definitely seemed happy with this choice.
  • Since I am not a whole fish person and certainly did not want to guess the market price for the enormous lobster or crab sitting at the front of the restaurant, I opted for the traditional seafood paella middle middle (making it clear that is was a one portion size). It came stuffed with clams, mussels, calamari, gambas and a huge prawn on top middle right. Everything was so delicious! The seafood was tender and so flavorful, the rice was al dente, and the sauce (still not quite sure what makes this) was perfect.
  • By the time dessert came around we were both completely stuffed. We decided to split something and wanted to get a dish we could not get at home (as much as I wanted the chocolate lava cake). Kevin had read about Catalan cannolis, so we split that bottom right. It came out with rolled pastries that had a cold cream (reminded us of the Catalan cream we had earlier) that we doused in chocolate dipping sauce. Not a bad way to end the night!

Monday

Our last day in Barcelona. We awoke and packed our bags before heading out to roam the streets of the Gothic Quarter and Born neighborhoods. We grabbed pastries from our favorite Forn de Pa Tur bakery and were ready for our morning- best pastry in Barcelona!

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While we had stars left on the Google map in this area, early Monday morning there were very few things open- Monday was the second most popular day for closures in the city. We walked to the marina and found the pillar with Christopher Columbus before heading to a plaça for George Orwell, an otherwise humble square.

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We walked into the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which beautifully showcased its history as we sat quietly for several minutes.

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Kevin grabbed a cortado at Cafes El Magnifico before heading back to our apartment to check out with our Airbnb host.

I found a new tapas restaurant that was a few minutes from our place that would be a perfect meal before heading to the airport. As we approached Centric Canalla, we were happy to see it was open- first victory. We sat down and handed menus as the server said “if you want lunch, the kitchen is closed until 1PM”. Whomp whomp. By the time the kitchen opened and the length of meals in the city, we were nervous about running too close to our departure time so we left. Our Airbnb host had recommended a place on the block of the apartment that he frequents so we ventured back from where we came.

O’Toxo 3 Hermanos had several special options in addition to their full menu so we had no problem finding something to eat.

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We kept it simple by ordering a plate of iberica ham with tomato bread top and galician style octopus bottom left with glasses of albariño. Both were tasty, served fast, and hit the spot- thank you!

We made our way back to Plaça de Catalunya but as we passed an Amorino gelato shop, made the decision to check ice cream off the list, even if it was an Italian chain.

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It was easy to locate the Aerobus and since we bought the round trip ticket when we got here (make sure you keep the original ticket!), we just hopped on for an easy ride. For those that had not flown out of Barcelona before, they do many security checks as a heads up so leave yourself plenty of time- asking security questions at check in, random screenings at the metal detectors (yes, Kevin was randomly selected), and then a percent of the plane gets pulled from the gate for another round of random screenings (yes, Kevin was randomly selected again- I haven’t blogged our Disney trips yet but Kevin constantly without fail gets pulled for random screenings there as well- Poor Kevin!). 

Barcelona was a delicious and beautiful city. The architecture was stunning with a theme of life and color everywhere and the seafood was fresh and amazing. I can only imagine what the city must be like when the weather is warm and the beaches are full of people! And all the places on our list that we did not get to… it’s quite a list-just look at a snap shot off all the stars:

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Shout out to everyone who provided recommendations for us- including our Boston friends, Gimme Some Oven, Kevin’s co-workers, my brother’s friend. We were fortunate to take pieces of everyone’s experiences and made it our own. We did not get to try nearly the amount of things we wanted to but for the places we did go, it was great- thank you! We have a full list of things to see for our next trip to Barcelona… see you again soon!

See what we brought in this packing post and video!

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Activity Food
Wednesday Night Flight to Barcelona
Thursday Morning
Afternoon Arrival at Airbnb

Mercado de La Boqueria

Cathedral

Pinotxo Bar
Evening Ciudad Condal
Night Camp Nou Futbol
Friday Morning Forn de Pa Tur
Afternoon Park Güell Kaiku
Evening Barceloneta beach Ølgod
Night Cinc Sentits
Saturday Morning La Sagrada Familia
Afternoon Picasso Museum Granja La Pallaresa
Evening Formatgeria La Seu Euskal Etxea

Ølgod

Night Can Lluis
Sunday Morning Palau de la Musica Citizen’s Bar
Afternoon Casa Batlló/Casa Milà

El Nacional

Cervecería Catalana

Chök

Evening Ølgod
Night Botafumeiro
Monday Morning Exploring Gothic Quarter/Born Forn de Pa Tur
Afternoon Return to airport O’Toxo 3 Hermanos

Amorino

Evening Flight home

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