Phil and I recently took a trip south to Barcelona (Phil writes about it in detail here). We visited before as a part of my birthday celebration in 2008. We only spent a couple of days in Barcelona at that time so we were happy to have four whole days to ourselves to explore the city a bit more.
Day 1 Highlights:
We arrived in Barcelona late in the morning and had some time to kill before we could check into our Airbnb. Before our trip, I’d researched a few restaurants (as you do…as I do anyway) and found a spot called La Desayunaria (which basically translates to the place that specializes in breakfast) and in particular, they specializes in American breakfast that they serve all day, which is very unusual for Spain. We hadn’t had an American-style breakfast in over nine months so I was super excited to go. The menu was very much like a brunch menu. We haven’t been out to brunch in over two years (man oh man, I miss brunch). And while they did not offer the bottomless mimosas of our SoCal days, we did indulge in one of the fruity, fizzy delights along with coffee, of course. To eat, Phil chose a breakfast platter that included bacon, hash-browns, cheesy eggs, and pancakes. I opted for one giant pancake, stuffed with banana, and bacon on the side. It was all delicious and really hit the spot.
After settling into our Airbnb, we spent the afternoon walking around, first visiting the National Art Museum of Catalunya, which is located in Montjuic park, high above the city. We enjoyed their impressive collection of Medieval Romanesque art as well as their modern art gallery. We finished our visit with a few of the city at sunset from their rooftop terrace.
I couldn’t end the day 1 highlights without mentioning that we had Mexican food. I’ve written before that there’s not a lot of Mexican food in Spain and the fact that as a people, the Spanish tend not to like spicy foods. Barcelona, being a much more international city than Gijon, offered some really good Mexican food. With spice! Like salsa options that were very spicy. We stopped in La Fabrica del Taco (the taco factory) for a few street tacos and beer and left with a burrito to go because why the hell not? There was no time for a photo before inhaling the tacos but here’s the menu and their cool logo.
Day 2 Highlights:
On our second day we slept in a bit before heading to our 11:30 tour at Casa Batlló, an Antoni Gaudí designed home from the early 1900’s. I really like Gaudi and we’ve visited a couple of his buildings since we’ve been in Spain which I talk about here and Phil talks about here. I was very pleased as Spanish residents we were able to get a two for one entry (score!). We opted for the “Gold” ticket upgrade for a few euro more which gave us an interactive audiovisual guide and access to a room of off the terrace that the general admission doesn’t allow. The room is full of garb of the time that visitors can don for photos. And don I did. The house was in true fairy-tale trippy Gaudí style and did not disappoint.
After leaving the museum, we hopped a bus to the Carmel neighborhood of the city where we grabbed a bite to eat at a cafe on the way up: pimientos del Padrón (roasted, salted, mild peppers) and buñuelos de bacalao (codfish fritters). The cafe was interesting in that it had a very old, Spanish feel to it, almost as if it could have been in rural Asturias with the exception that the menu came in four languages. Barcelona is, as I mentioned a very international city.
In fact, as we were waiting for our food, we heard the waiter talking with a group of twenty-somethings behind us who were ordering in English with thick, eastern European accents trying to communicate with the waiter who spoke very little English. This is the reason so many menus in tourist cities have pictures. As I listened to their order, one of the gals asked if the dish came with sauce. The waiter responded, “Salsa. Si.” to which she said, “No, I don’t want salsa.” Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce, not just the Mexican condiment it’s become synonymous with in many English speaking countries. The salsa/sauce back and forth went on for a while and I was about to intervene in their Who’s on First of a conversation when everyone finally seemed to grasp that salsa was sauce. She ordered extra salsa on the dish, BTW. Anyway, we washed our tasty snack down with a cold beer and headed up (escalar, escalar) to the Mirador de les bateries which offered more stunning views of the city.
We made our way down from the mirador, walking through the El Camel neighborhood, passed Parc Güell, a park designed by Gaudí. We were surprised to learn that the park had a ten euro admission fee. We visited the park in 2008 for free. Apparently they started charging for entry in 2013 though I was happy to learn that the park is still free for city residents.
We opted to skip the park and walked through the Gracia neighborhood, stopping again for a snack of bacon and cheese bocadillos before continuing on. About 45 minutes later, we stopped for a drink. Phil ordered a mojito and I ordered a cava. The menu listed the cost of the cava as €6.50 per bottle. I assumed it was a small, individual sized bottle as Phil’s cocktail was €7 and prices are higher in Barcelona. Initially I ordered a copa (glass) of cava and then changed by order, thinking “why not?”, assuming the little bottle probably had a bit more cava than the glass. The menu also had mozzarella sticks (!) on it. We weren’t particularly hungry but being as though mozzarella sticks is another American treat we hadn’t had in a very long time…we, of course, ordered some. When our order arrived, we were surprised to see that I had, in fact, ordered an entire, full sized, bottle of cava for myself and that the mozzarella sticks were served with grape jelly. Looking at our order, I couldn’t help but laugh and feel very much like an American tourist. The mozzarella paired nicely with the jelly, by the way; very baked brie vibes. After finishing what turned out to be our dinner, we walked back to the Airbnb and promptly fell asleep, which was actually a bit recommencement of those bottomless mimosa brunches I’d been missing.
Stay tuned for park 2 and enjoy some of Barcelona’s street art.