Travel Diary: Barcelona, Spain 2015

March 15, 2015


This was the second time I had ventured to the glorious city of Barcelona. I think it’s a place that I will always love to come back to. As I flicked through my snaps, I felt as though I didn’t do this city’s beauty justice.  The architect Antoni Gaudi has decorated the city in his eccentric style making every building a wonder to look at.

I stayed in Badalona, a place located in the suburbs of the city. It was a sleepy area that was mostly full of locals. After a long flight, it was nice to wake up and head out into the sunshine. I purchased a week-long metro ticket so I could explore the city without worrying about trivial things like money. The metro stayed open all night on Saturday and till 2 on Sunday, which was fabulously convenient.
Naturally, the first place I visited was Segrada Familia, Gaudi’s half finished gothic cathedral. The tall spears pierced the crystal blue sky whilst many walked underneath its shadow.  His design is truly magnificent on the one side that the he managed to finish before his death in 1926. The building is wreathed with sparkling fruit bowls and smiling angels that sparkle in the Spanish sun.

I saw the most beautiful views of the city from Park Güell, another Gaudi wonder. It was surrounded by floral gardens and beige steps that lead you higher and higher until you can see everything surrounding the city. You feel like some Latin princess as you look beyond the kingdom out into the beautiful blue ocean.

All the main shops and restaurants are located down the main artery of Barcelona in Las Ramblas. Office people, wine drinkers and shoppers all totter up and down this street, which has every type of food you could wish for.

I learned to love croissants that I had previously hated from eating a bad batch in France. The café 365 stocked some beautiful pastries wrapped around sausages or cheese that I washed down with a milky coffee. They also serve as a bakery making the whole place smell of fresh bread.

To taste a bit of the culture, I ordered traditional Spanish paella in one of the many restaurants on the shores of Barceloneta Beach. The creamy rice layered with seafood with a hint of paprika made a beautiful dish.  There was also many other culinary dishes I tried including the small plated portions of tapas. I tried Octopus in Don Fernando. It had the texture of calamari but a lovely taste.

I headed to illustrious 4Gatswhere Picasso used to eat. Now, it stands as a traditional restaurant surrounded by tourists. It’s became a novelty for its history and famous customers. Even a Woody Allen movie pictured Scarlet Johansson sipping on a vino here.

I tried many different versions of Patatas Bravas which were potatoes dipped in a spicy sauce.  My favourite was found in Las Fritas made with homemade chips. In the Gothic Quarter, I stumbled upon a vegetarian place that was charming. Vegetalia served up sit-down restaurant food including patties in toasted bread. It went down amazingly after mooching around the surrounding bars.

I couldn’t resist grabbing a rioja in Son Rita which cost €3. It was a kitsch bar near the Barceloneta Metro Station that was decked with naked Barbies and leopard print. It felt very chic but with a generous drink price it made the perfect place to park up.

Dry Martinibeckoned me in with their high profile bartender and clandestine style. With several smoothly made cocktails on the menu, I could have stayed all night listening to jazz whilst a shoe shiner worked away at my dusty boots. This one is a little more expensive costing nearly €10 a drink but the hospitality is undeniable.

Back near the Ramblas, there was an ancient place called Bar Marsella where the painter Salvadore Dali used to drink. It was clear from the moment I walked in, that everyone came here for the Absinthe. Set upon small glasses, people were burning cubes of sugar into their drink. For me, the aniseed made me scowl but at least I can tick it off my beverage bucket list.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the vintage shops were tucked up in a street called Carrer Riera Baixa. It hosted a place that sold vintage by the kilo, a record shop and stores like Lullaby Vintage. There were creaky rails full of old Spanish garments and trinkets. In Lullaby, I found a Dolce and Gabanna dress for €20. It was divine!

There was also many boutiques sprinkled around the Gothic Quarter including a fabulous place to get inked up, Medusa. It was unlike any tattoo parlour I had seen before as it was set up like a fortune-teller’s tent, complete with dusty books and beads.

Although by the fifth day, I was struggling to think of things to do, I don’t think a weekend here would be long enough. I would always be happy to return because being around Gaudi’s Barcelona is like being in the setting of a Tim Burton Movie.

Hotel: Dream Hostel
Favourite Food: Paella
Favourite Restaurant: Don Fernando
Favourite Bar: Son Rita

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