A Taste of Barcelona

bar 32 (1)Barcelona in 3 days

Travel Dates: June 12, 13, 14th 2018

Places visited: Barcelona

Weather:  The weather in Barcelona was a little bit hotter than in Madrid (high 80s) with more humidity. Similar to Madrid, the temperature drops at night time so be sure to bring a sweater if you are roaming around at night time! Another wonderful thing about Barcelona is that the sun sets around 9:30pm, which meant more hours in the light to explore!

Getting Around: The metro system is very easy to navigate in Barcelona and there are more people who speak English than in Madrid so we were able ask people for help if we got a bit lost. When purchasing a Metro ticket, be sure to buy the ticket for 10 rides which costs less than purchasing multiple single rides. We took Uber a few times here and there to save time but mostly used public transportation since it was so convenient.

To get to and from the airport, we took the Aerobus that took us from the airport to Plaça Catalyuna where our hotel was. It was easy to find (it is a big blue bus) and costs about 6 euros each way. There is a line with blue kiosks where you can use your credit card to purchase a ticket if you don’t have cash on hand. If you do have cash, you can hand it to the officers working at the stop. When we were going to the airport from our hotel, we just paid cash on the bus. The trip from the airport to Plaça Catalyuna took us about 40 minutes.  

Food Scene: There were so many food options everywhere in Barcelona. We had our BEST meal here at Blavis (scroll down for more info!), discovered my new favorite dish, fideua, and found Alan’s favorite burger of all time! Don’t worry we will go into detail about all these later in this post. Similar to in Madrid, people in Barcelona are out all night, eating and drinking!

Accommodations: We stayed at H10 Universitat, which was very convenient because it was located so close to public transportation, Aerobus, restaurants, and minutes from Plaça de Catalunya. It was easy to get around town from the hotel and it also had a rooftop bar which was nice when we wanted a drink after walking around all day.

Tips: From what we heard, it is not expected to tip but it is always appreciated. We just rounded to the nearest dollar when we could and included a small tip at restaurants.

Day 1

After we got off the plane from Madrid we were so hungry and went to Foc i oli for a bite. The place was small so we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get a seat but thankfully there weren’t too many people at 2:30PM. We read that the sandwiches here were so good, we had to try them! We had the El Chivito sandwich (Thin slices of beef entrecôte, sweet ham, bacon, mayonnaise, salad with vinaigrette, cheese gouda, red pepper, onion confit, brioche bread) and the special burger (burger with gouda cheese, bacon, mayo, caramelized onion, and fried egg on top). I know we were here for the sandwich which was really good, but the burger really stole the spotlight here!!!! Alan says it was the best burger he has ever had (and trust me he has had many!). So if you come here, definitely get the special burger!

 

After having our amazing meal, we walked about 10 minutes to see the beautiful Casa Batlló, designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. We purchased tickets in advance (FastPass) online because we were scared it would be crowded but on a Tuesday at 4:30PM, we didn’t have to wait on the line. We loved this because the tickets came with a smart guide which looked like a mini tablet with headphones. As you walked through the mansion and into the rooms, you could hold up the smart guide and it would transform the image you see in front of you on the screen. Our first Gaudí experience was so cool and fascinating as we walked around the building with our smart guides and learning about the vision that Gaudí had. It was the first of the many works of Gaudí we would see on our trip and we became huge fans of his work!

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We then stopped by Cervecería Catalana for some tapas. We got a spread of seafood and pan con tomato (our new obsession that we discovered in Madrid) and some more shrimp. Everything was so fresh and delicious! It was pretty crowded there, we had to run to grab a seat at the bar so if you go, definitely take that into consideration!

 

After heading back to our hotel to rest up, we went to the hotel’s rooftop bar, Twenty one rooftop bar located on the 9th floor. We weren’t too far up but it still had some nice views!

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After a pre-dinner drink, we headed to Flax and Kale for a late dinner. It is a mostly plant-based restaurant with 20% fish options. They call themselves ” the first Healthy Flexiteriano Restaurant in Barcelona.” A fellow dietitian and friend Erika recommended to me and of course the dietitian in me immediately put it on our itinerary!  I am not sure how I got Alan to agree to come here with me but he was very glad he did! First of all, the place is beautiful, filled with pretty patterned seats and indoor plants.  Second of all, they have a list of allergens for their menu items which I greatly appreciate and allows everyone to choose something to fit their needs. And last of all, everything was so delicious!

 

We had the beet tartare, the double black cod, eggplant flatbread, and the raw vegan lasagna.  Everything was so delicious but our favorite was the double black cod!

 

After dinner, we went to a cool cocktail bar called Negroni Cocktail bar. When we walked by, all we could see was a bright sign that said “Negroni”. From the outside, it looked like it was just pitch black inside. However, when we went in, the place was cool, the bar was on the lefthand side and a standing area on the righthand side, and as you go further in there are tables for larger groups. We were immediately greeted by the bartender who explained to us that we just had to tell him what we liked to drink and he will make something for us. I think I told him I liked berries and wanted something refreshing. He made me something super tasty, with berries and Alan got the standard negroni. We loved our personalized cocktails! It is a good place if you are looking for a chill low-key vibe.

 

 

Day 2

We woke up early to go to Mercat de La Boquiera (Mercado de La Boqueria) to check out this vibrant food market. It was a foodie’s dream, packed with fresh produce, fruit, fish and much more! We walked around and headed to Pinotxo Bar, located inside the market, for breakfast.

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At Pinotxo Bar, we had the most amazing chickpeas (yes chickpeas!) for breakfast and a spanish tortilla. YUM! It was a good idea to get here early because we felt it already starting to get lots of foot traffic around 9AM already!

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We then went to the Picasso museum and loved it! We did the audio tour and at the time, the exhibit Picasso’s Kitchen was on exhibit. It was a unique experience and we learned so much about the great artist and followed him through the blue period, rose period, cubism and were fascinated by the great works he created. We highly recommend coming here when you do visit Barcelona! We purchased a postcard of one of our favorite paintings from the museum, Azoteas de Barcelona.

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After the museum, we went across the street for a small bite at El Xampanyet. The menu was in Catalan, and the waiters didn’t speak much English so with the help of google translate to translate some menu items, we were able to order the calamari and peppers (calamars amb samfaina and pimientos del patron) and both dishes were super tasty! The place is cozy with not too many seats and gets busy quick. We were there when it opened and it filled up real fast.

 

Afterwards, we decided to opt for a change of pace and we headed from the bustling city to Barceloneta Beach. When we got there, it was busy as well but the breeze and sounds of the waves immediately calmed us down and we felt relaxed amidst the busy city of Barcelona.

bar 18After walking around the beach we stopped at Can Mojo which had outside seating facing the beach.  I was looking forward to trying fideuà, a Catalan dish, for the first time.  It is a dish similar to paella, except instead of rice, it is made with short noodles. The texture of the noodles reminded me of vermicelli, and the dish had so much flavor, it was one of the top dishes I had in Barcelona! We also ordered some mussels and those very fresh and flavorful as well but the fideuà is a must try!!

 

After the beach, we were excited to visit the Montjuïc neighborhood, and to go from a beach to a completely different scenery within minutes was so cool! Barcelona seemed to have everything for everyone. We wanted to go to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, however it wasn’t turned on at the time.

If you have read our other posts, you could see that we loveeeee to find good views. We climbed up the stairs to Palau Naciona, which we later found out was a museum, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

bar museumWhen we looked out, we saw a beautiful view of Plaça d’Espanya.

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For dinner, we made at reservation at Blavis ahead of time on their website. We would highly recommend that you make a reservation because the place isn’t that big and many many people were turned away at the door without a reservation! This restaurant has become our FAVORITE restaurant. We could not stop talking about our experience and raving about the food at Blavis months after coming here!

Okay, let’s start with the service. We were in contact with Paco regarding reservations via email and when we arrived, we were generously greeted by Paco. Throughout the meal, he explained the ingredients and preparation methods of each dish in detail.  The dishes were tapas so we shared everything. We had the asparagus with romesco, patatas bravas, eggplant carpaccio, grilled pork with bok choy.  Our favorite was the pork, it was cooked perfectly and paired wonderfully with the sauce. Everything was so delicious and still to this day, we cannot stop raving about our experience at Blavis!

 

After our amazing meal, we went to La Pedera- Casa Mila, another building designed by Gaudi. According to their website, ‘Casa Milà’ comes from the fact that it was the new home of the Milà family. The couple occupied the main floor and rented out the other apartments. There are still tenants here! We did the La Pedrera Night Experience, where we went on a tour at night with a very small group (it felt like the whole building was to ourselves!), and a guide brought us around. We ended at the Warrior rooftop where we saw projections against the spiraling chimneys  and a light show.  Alan really loved this building, and it wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy being on the rooftop with all the lights!

 

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Day 3

We woke up early to get to Park Guell (yes, another one of Gaudi’s work!). We got skip the line tickets online and when we went, it was getting crowded even around 9AM. I would highly suggest getting there early! Unfortunately, a lot of the area was under construction so it didn’t take us too long to get through the whole “monumental zone.” The mosaics throughout the park were beautiful and certainly made it a very unique place. The “monumental zone” is what you will need tickets to but you can roam around the park for free. Be sure to wear comfy shoes so you can climb the stairs for a beautiful view of the city!

bar park

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This trip was filled with lots of views! After we walked around the park, we climbed a ton of stairs nearby to see a beautiful view of Barcelona. We finally made it to Mirador de Joan Sales. It was worth it!!

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After we climbed all those steps, we went to another cat cafe (I told you we love cats)! I will spare you the details but if you do want to check it out, Espai De Gats is the place to go!

 

After playing with cats, we went to El Nacional, a neat place for foodies to check out! It looked a sophisticated food court, with separate bars for beer, wines, cocktails, and even oysters! It also had 4 different restaurants, all with different decor and specialities.

 

We first went to the oyster bar for a few oysters, then to the cocktail bar for a drink and some small bites.

oysters bar

 

After our snack, we headed to Sagrada Família (we saved the best for last!). When you buy your tickets, be sure to get the ones for the towers cause they have the BEST views!

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breathtaking view from one of the towersbar 43bar 44

There was still construction going on around Sagrada Família and it is not finished yet. The anticipated year of completion is 2026, perhaps we shall return then to see the completed work!

It was very difficult to capture the beauty of this basilica through photos. Every pillar and every structure is so grand and intricate, you have to see it for yourself. It really is a must-see in Barcelona.

Alan has always wanted to go to a 3-star Michelin restaurant so we decided to go to one in Barcelona. 3-star Michelin restaurants in Barcelona are much more affordable than in NYC. Their tasting menus start at 155 Euros ($170 US dollars) compared to let’s say, Per Se in NYC, which is $355 so we decided if we were going to go to one, we should do it now! We went to Àbac, which is located inside their hotel. The decor was beautiful and the food was amazing. We were given a tour of the kitchen first and then brought to our seats. Our tasting menu had more than 10 items and there were many very unique dishes with contrasting flavors and textures (foams, mousse, etc) that we found to be extremely memorable.

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We ate more than 10 items that night so I’m just going to share a few of the wonderful things we ate.  I think this one I was obsessed with, having been through a hazelnut craze (after my life-changing discovery of Nutella). The whipped hazelnut butter with bread crusts and caviar was delicious (pictured below). The tuna rice, tuna belly, with a tomato stew was so refreshing and the tuna belly had a creamy, almost buttery taste with great textures from the other components of the dish.

abacfood

abac food

Day 4 

We were scheduled to fly back to Madrid around noon to finish the rest of our trip (see previous blog post) on Day 4. For our last day in Barcelona, we went to get our last meal at El Quim, which is located in the Mercado de La Boqueria, which we went to on day 2.

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We went for breakfast and had the most amazing squid with eggs. Squid is not usually something we would normally eat for breakfast but it was highly recommended by a few people so we decided to try it out! It was so delicious!

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I also had on my list that I had to try crema catalana before I left Barcelona so we had that as well. It was sooo amazing, it is like a creme brûlée but with a hint of cinnamon, and a lovely creamy texture. I think we did a good job eating our way through Barcelona!

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Happy exploring,

Joanna + Alan

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