From my travel journal: Barcelona, 2017

To kill a little more time, we walked to the Mercat de la Concepció for a light lunch. We found a decent food market with a cute little corner stall with a little counter, again run by a sweet little older couple. We had beer + wine, with some potato tortilla & albondigas (meatballs) – absolutely phenomenal food! I’ll take those cute little lunch counters over a fancy restaurant any day. And it was a local market, no tourists = even better!

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Top 10 Things To Do in Barcelona

1. Get stuck into the markets!

Where? There are SO many! Try Mercado de Santa Caterina (Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16), Mercat de la Concepció (Carrer d’Aragó, 313-317), and of course La Boqueria (La Rambla, 91).
Why go? Because there’s no better way to get to know a city than by visiting the markets! You can get a taste of the food, the people and the culture all in one hit, as well as some more unique souvenirs than what you’ll find in stores.
How long will you need? As long as you can spare! At least an hour per market is ideal.
Cost? Depends how much you’re planning to eat and buy! They’re pretty well priced, though, so you won’t have to blow a heap of cash to come out with a full belly.
Read more:
– La Boqueria food market, Barcelona

 

2. Stroll La Rambla with a gelati in hand

Where? La Rambla, a large pedestrian walking street.
Why go? Back in the ‘old’ days, people used to go out and promenade of an evening; basically, walk up and down the street, seeing who else was out, enjoying the fresh air. La Rambla is perfect for an afternoon or evening promenade, because not only is it beautiful and always busy, but there are lots of little gelati stalls lining the walk.
How long will you need? How much gelati can you eat?
Cost? A few euro will be more than enough for a gelati.

 

3. Enjoy a Gaudí day

Where? There are perfectly preserved sites all over the city – a few favourites are Park Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller, Casa Milá, Casa Vincens
Why go? You don’t need to know anything about architecture to appreciate Gaudí’s work. These sites are all magnificent, all marked by that distinct, colourful mosaic tile work people so often associate with Barcelona. Walking through these places feels like a stroll through a movie set, and while the designs all have similar elements, they all feel so different. Maybe you’ve heard of Gaudí before, but after you visit, you’ll get why he’s such a big deal.
How long will you need? At least 2 hours for the bigger sites that require tickets.
Cost? Anywhere between free for places like Casa Amatller, where you can admire the façade free of charge, to around  €25 person for a fast pass entry to Casa Batlló.

 

4. Explore the Gothic Quarter on foot

Where? Stretching out from La Rambla to Via Laietana.
Why go? This is the best part of the city, for my money. The streets twist and wind in no real order, and there is SO much to see if you’re ready to spend the time getting lost there.
How long will you need? Spend at least half a day wondering the Quarter. But once you’ve been there, you’ll want to head back again.
Cost? Walking and window shopping are always free!

 

5. Eat tapas and drink sangria at Mesón del Café

Where? Carrer de la Llibreteria, 16
Why go? Tucked away in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, this is the perfect place to indulge in one of the best Spanish pastimes – the tapas are freshly made and the sangria is the best in the city.
How long will you need? Spend at least an hour to slow down and enjoy the time out.
Cost? About  €5 for a glass of sangria and a few euro per tapas plate.
Read more:
– Eat here: Mesón del Café

 

6. Get an education at the Barcelona City History Museum

http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/museuhistoria/en/
Where? Plaça del Rei
Why go? Not only is this an incredible museum with fantastic exhibits, it’s also set in a palace. And it’s a palace that contains the remains of one of Europe’s largest Roman settlements below ground level, which are all part of the exhibit and open for you to see!
How long will you need? A couple of hours to see it properly.
Cost?  €7 per adult.

 

7. Do a little people watching in one of the parks or squares around the city

Where? There are more options than you’ll cover in a few days, ranging from the big, popular ones like Plaça Reial and Plaça de Catalunya , as well as lots of smaller and quieter ones like Montjuïc and Parc de la Ciutadella.
Why go? There’s a lot to do in Barcelona, so it’s nice to take a step back, sit in one of the beautiful public  spaces and take it all in!
How long will you need? As long as you need to rest and recharge.
Cost? Free!

 

8. See the Sagrada Família, inside AND out

http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/
Where? Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Why go? I’m not a religious person, but this building took my breath away. While it may never be finished,  what is there is the most spectacular building you’re ever likely to see.
How long will you need? A good 2 hours.
Cost? Basic tickets start at  €15 per person.

 

9. Visit Camp Nou

https://www.fcbarcelona.com/tour/buy-tickets
Where? Carrer d’Aristides Maillol, 12
Why go? Even if you’re not a football nut, the team means a lot to the city, and it’s a pretty impressive stadium and museum. It’s also really well set up for non-football fans, so even if you don’t know the first thing about the game, it’s still worth the visit!
How long will you need? Half a day.
Cost?  €25 per adult.
Read more:
– Visitng Camp Nou

 

10. Take in some shopping & architecture on Passeig de Gràcia

Where? between Avinguda Diagonal and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes
Why go?  If you’re a shopper, you’re going to love this area. Ditto if you love some good architecture – buildings like Gaudí’s La Pedrera are on every corner!
How long will you need? Spend a few hours exploring and looking and shopping.
Cost? Free.

TBT: Visiting Camp Nou in Barcelona!

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Even for someone like me, who isn’t a soccer person, it’s an incredibly impressive stadium. Camp Nou isn’t just a stadium; it’s an all-encompassing sporting museum, too. It’s been the home of FC Barcelona since 1957, holds just under 100, 000 and has undergone a few renovations to get it to it’s current glorious state.

23€ will get you entry to the stadium and museum, which is truly something to behold. Even if you’re not a soccer fanatic, it’s well worth the visit if you find yourself in Barcelona…

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Through my eyes: Barcelona, Spain (part 2)

Barlceona… have said it before, will say it again: you’re a damn pretty city and I would very much like to go back and see you again. Right now.

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Through my eyes: Barcelona, Spain (part 1)

To be honest, I think Barcelona is one of those cities that speaks for itself. It is a beautiful, old, fun, cultured, fascinating city, and nothing I say (type) can accentuate that. Take me back.

 

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Through my eyes: Tapas in Barcelona, Spain

Having a bit of a “flashback Friday” moment here – this time last year, I was just getting back to the real world after an amazing trip around Egypt and Europe, and was just thinking that for lunch today, I’d really love nothing more than to sit out at a café with a nice big glass of sangria, and a gorgeous spread of tapas, with some sunshine and good company, and no where to rush back off to afterwards… if only! Anyway, here’s some tapas porn from that trip I took last year – it’s also an awesome night in, to head to your local market, pick up a bread stick and some ingredients, and make your own at home!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

La Boqueria food market in Barcelona – AKA foodie heaven!

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
http://www.boqueria.info/

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Just for the record, this is something like what my heaven would look like. Food stalls after food stalls, manned by passionate locals who know their produce inside out. There are bright colours (somewhat of a problem for me – I’m absurdly easily distracted and over-stimulated by all the pretty, colourful, shiny things in markets and tend to get lost pretty easily), powerful smells, hearty belly laughs and a whole lot of yelling!

Our stay in Barcelona last year was not long enough, not by a long way… but we did start each morning at the market, with a tub of fruit salad, and empanada, whatever looked good at the time! It was a short walk from our hotel, up La Rambla, which really comes into its own in the afternoons and evenings. The market itself though is best in the morning, we found. All of the produce was fresh, and everyone was in a good mood, ready to start the day!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

And this? Well, this was breakfast on our second morning. The guy at this café recommended some specialties – an eggplant tortilla, crusty bread rubbed with fresh tomato, croquettes and churros. And to drink? “we have only beer and wine.” Beer and wine it is, then! Best breakfast I think I’ve ever had, in the middle of the craziness of La Boqueria market, dining on a local’s choices with an amazing glass of wine… at 9am! When in Barcelona…!!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014