Guide to Barcelona, Spain

barcelona-splash

Hidey ho, everyone!

Sorry it took so long to get here, and I know y’all have been waiting, so drumroll please!

BARCELONAAAA!

HOW DID YOU GET HERE? We took a train from Valencia, which took about 3.5 hours.

WHERE DID YOU STAY? From Barcelona-Sants (the main train station), we took a taxi to get to the neighborhood where we were staying called Barri Gotic. We used Airbnb again and did not regret it. I highly recommend this neighborhood! Hipsters like El Born, which is right next to Barri Gotic if you want your dose of trendiness. If you likelove Game of Thrones, Barri Gotic and Girona are where they filmed a few scenes of GOT, mainly for the Braavos and Dorne scenes. Walking around this neighborhood is like a medieval maze; everything is so tall and old-ish. You feel the history here and it reminded me that I was not just in another country, but it felt like a different time as well.

WHAT DID YOU EAT? Oh man. Like Spain, Barcelona is full of amazing eats. We hit up some of the tourist-famous joints. There’s a lot of hype for Boqueria and Quimet y Quimet but the hype is there for a reason! Here are the notable places where we dined:

Cerverceria/El Vaso de Oro A crowded and narrow bar with old steins as decoration. We had a seasoned old bartender and he made the night for us with his quips. P.S. The neighborhood is called L’Eixample, which is pronounced “le shem pleh.”

Tapeo Holy skuzballs… Located in Born, the food was amazing! And it didn’t break the bank. We each had a caña, then shared the following: mackerel, eggplant w/ honey, croquetas (only two, and they look like boobies, but sooooooooo good), and fideo paella a sepia (tiny noodle paella with squid and ink). With the fideo paella, I may have licked the plate and scraped every bit off the pan. I still think of that dish sometimes… NOTE: make an RSVP here if you have a party of more than two, otherwise you’ll be waiting for a while.

b29b30

La Pubilla A Catalan restaurant located in the Gracia neighborhood, it’s right off the Gracia exit on the metro. The menu is in Catalan, and while they speak Spanish here, they are stalwart speakers of the Catalan language. Don’t worry, you can still point and ask. We had brunch here so we missed all of the foie related dinner entrees, but it was still worth the trip. The menu here changes regularly so if I was living in the area, I’d come often. I had the pork cheek and it was superb: creamy and unctuous on the inside and crispy and salty on the outside. It was served with a vegetable confit and reduced consomme.

b28

Quimet y Quimet Bourdain may have made this place famous to the U.S., but I don’t think he weaseled his way through the throngs and wrote 10 items on a piece of paper and passed it to the proprietor like I did so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Ha! I think she thought it was impressive because I got a wink and a smirk from her before she started screaming orders over the din. Because of his height, Yobo was able to act as a serving fulcrum above peoples’ heads and grab our plates from bar to our standing table, back and forth until we received our order. Yay, tall husbands! Everything tasted — you guessed it — amazing! And fresh and light. NOTE: No chairs here, everything is standing room.

B6

La Boqueria Market The famous institution that is one of the greatest food markets ever. I passed by the stall where Phil from I’ll Have What Phil’s Having has a monster foie and egg creation, but it was packed to the gills. Maybe next time I’ll have to bring a fake camera crew to clear some seats. We ended up having a cone of jamon (AMAZING), oysters, and fried anchovies. And gambas a la plancha. What a great morning that was. Yes, there is a lot of overpriced hype, but you don’t have to go in there for a full blown meal. You can eat at any of the side restaurants hoping for spillover from market visitors or take pics and grab one of the many zumos (juice). They are only 1 or 2€!

NOTE: If you go in there and expect to order a coffee to go for your wanderings, you will be chastised with raised eyebrows. If you want to do the Starbucks thing like they do in America, you will have to do it in America. The Spanish like to enjoy and savor, so if you want a coffee, which will always be through a press, you will have to enjoy it cafe style sitting down.

WHAT DID YOU DO?

  • Sagrada Familia – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The inside and outside take your breath away. It was the one touristy thing that rendered me speechless and somehow got under my skin. A marvel and a feat. That’s all I’m going to say about it. The overpriced ticket to take the elevator all the way to top and walk down was worth it. If you are looking to step out of your comfort zone, this cathedral has that in spades for all your senses (except taste unless you want to lick the building which I do not advise).
  • La Pedrera aka Casa Mila – It’s an apartment building still in use that was commissioned by wealthy Barcelonians to Antoni Gaudi, the architect primarily responsible for making Barcelona (and the aforementioned Sagrada Familia) such a wonder for the architecture. The roof of this place is the attraction and it is intense. Chimneys disguised as stone sentinels stand atop a terra cotta scene that undulates under your feet. It is unnerving and crowded to be up there, but unforgettable.
  • Montserrat Monastery. There will be a separate post for this!

ETC

  • While planning for Barcelona, it is important to be reminded that Barcelona is the pickpocket capital of the world (!). Ladies, you should always wear your bag in front of you. Dudes, put your wallets in an inner jacket pocket or your front pocket. Fortunately we didn’t get mugged or ever feel that we were in direct danger, but we did see someone on Las Ramblas scoping out a potential mark. 😦
  • Barcelona and Spain used to be considered an old people destination! Now, it’s a place where younger tourists are getting their fill of a hipper Europe.
  • Barcelona is a city with its own identity. A lot of the locals here speak Catalan and identify as Catalonians before identifying as Spanish. Catalan sounds like if Spanish, French, Portuguese and a little Arabic had a baby! A lot of menus and signs in Barcelona are written in Catalan, Spanish, and English (in that order).
  • Because we spent the majority of a day trekking out to the Montserrat Monastery, we didn’t have time to go to Park Guell, which I am doing to the the next time we go back. I’m touching that lizard dammit!
  • During my initial research, I really liked the layout of this one expat blogger so I followed a lot of his Barcelona recommendations. We went to the Montjuic Fountains on his suggestion, but I failed to double check the schedule of when the fountain was on. He just said, “Check out Montjuic Fountain.” We went on a Monday night which is a night that they DON’T play. Ugh. Okay. That’s why I’m trying to do The Realness here. If you want to see the Montjuic Fountain, here is the schedule. Check first so you don’t waste time if you’re planned a jam-packed trip. We got to the see the entire city at night from the adjacent majestic steps of the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
  • Entrance fees to a lot of the sites can get expensive so budget accordingly! (i.e. over 40€ each! Ouch!)
  • Now that we know the layout, I would suggest staying in Barcelona for at least 4-5 days. Three days is not enough.
  • If you’ve been to Barce before, here’s a fun link for all the filming sites within Barcelona in the movie Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona.
  • Barcelona is CROWDED! Even if you beat the rush to sites as an early bird, places fill up quickly. Be patient. Here is a before and after picture of an impressive door in Barri Gotic. I had to take a few snaps before the perfect one because people were constantly walking into my shot.

b14b15

Okay, ready for the photo roll? ^___^

watercolor-line1

b31b24b25b17b16B12b27b26b13B11B10B8B7b5b4b3b2b1

Be sure to check out our Spain Primer, Tarifa, Morocco, Granada, Valencia, and What to Do if You Lose Your Luggage!

-j♥

Advertisements

oh…hello =/

v-girl-candle

THIS IS WHAT I WROTE LAST WEEK (SAVED AS A DRAFT):

I’m so sorry, internet friends! I haven’t been around and I didn’t post a city guide last week because I have been running around. My brother moved out of my parents’ house and my sister is in the middle of converting his room into her new study. I’ve been helping with both abodes. It’s hard to fight the interior decorator/organizer Virgo who salivates at this sort of thing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Also, to my credit and detriment, I’m the go-to Helpful Family Member.)

THIS IS WHAT I’M WRITING TODAY:

Another week has passed and still no city guide! It’s coming soon…I think!

Internet friends, my heart is breaking for all the shit that’s been happening lately. It seems bleak and insane. I woke up Sunday morning thinking that NPR was talking about the Grimmie shooting again (also in Florida), and it was worse than I could’ve imagined. I don’t want to repeat the words, soundbites, headlines and hashtags of everyone else that has been grieving and analyzing. They are out there. People are really feeling this and they’re hurting.

A week before the Orlando shootings, I was driving on the freeway when patrol cars came screeching by. A few minutes later, more were racing down freeway ramps to get to the west side. A slew of CHP again after few more minutes, and I could feel the panicked frenzy that this rush was causing. It took 30 min for me to find out, but apparently someone went to the UCLA campus and shot his former teacher before shooting himself.

In my junior year in high school, I stayed after-school for play production and someone connected to my rival high school shot a few bullets at the school entrance. We immediately went into lockdown for almost 2 hours. At the time, my sister was in another building and this was pre-cellphone era so I had no idea what the !#@%#& was going on and if she was safe (she was). My boyfriend at the time had to calm me down because I was panicking.

Gun control! We fucking need it. Yes, gun rights are in the Constitution, but the Second Amendment is there because we were at a time of war…with another (invading) country! Right now, we are using the Second Amendment to go to war against each other. Of course we have the right to protect ourselves, but if you skew that to bear arms to hurt others, you (should) get that privilege taken away. When I was in elementary school, we went on a field trip and know-it-all me answered a question correctly. My prize was a huge cattail. Everyone looked at me enviously. On the bus ride home, I decided it would be a fun idea to take the cattail and gently poke the back of a classmate’s head with the reed end. Even though he was asking for it, my teacher pursed her lips at me and took it away, and I went home empty-handed. Ms. Silliman, you should be president. With great power comes great responsibility.

 

Why are we walking around with the swagger of power when we can’t be responsible for our own actions? How are people on no-fly lists still able to buy a gun?! With all this talk of recession and no jobs, why aren’t we implementing job training and programs so sane people can train to be analysts to screen people who want to buy guns? Boom. A burgeoning industry!

Here, Michael Che from SNL puts it succinctly:

You can’t have whatever you want, all right? I know the Forefathers said you had a right to own a gun, but they also said you could own people!…Look, the Constitution is a lot like our grandfather. He’s wise, we love him, and he means well. But, he’s getting really, really old and every once in a while he says something crazy and we gotta go to the other room and discuss what we’re gonna do about him!

With the pace of technology in all sectors whizzing by, we are marveling at our ingeniousness. Look at how many bullets this automatic weapon can dispense! If we’re still in accordance with the Second Amendment, do we really need a semi-automatic rifle with 30 rounds to protect our castles and/or prove a point? The things we are making and inventing are evolving…and we are forgetting to evolve. Kindness and tolerance are NOT evolving.

I almost feel a palpable shift to fever pitch here in America. This is supposed to be a paradise country where dreams come true. Did we market that wrong? You can come and study here from another country and get information on arts and sciences that your country might not allow you to learn about! You should be able to escape persecution here and make a better life without tyranny from your government. Those are the principles America was founded on. Did we market that wrong? This was supposed to be the country different from aaaaall the other countries. And now we are, but for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. Do I want to go back to the Philippines where poverty is apparent the minute you get out of the airport? No. I’m beyond grateful for the blessings I have, the roof over my head, the extra padding of fat that tells my family back home that I can afford to sit on my ass and not run after jeepneys. No, I want to stay here and be a productive member of my society. But you are making it really hard for me to be productive and enjoy it, you mostly (old) white men at the top.

 

We shouldn’t have a gender pay gap. People all over the world should be able to point and say, “Well, at least in America, women are getting the same pay!” We shouldn’t have issues with the LGBT community because why?! They are people just like we breeders, capable of love and responsibility. We shouldn’t impose anything on abortion rights. I thought we settled that years ago, people! (?!) I read an excellent op-ed blurb this morning that we should make a man that buys a gun do the same things that we make women do to get an abortion: drive hundreds of miles to the few or one place(s) in the state that have them, walk through picketing protesters telling them they are doing something wrong, have a 48 day waiting period, and sign multiple forms asking them if they know the repercussions of what they are doing, etc. We should be able to talk about race without one side constantly ranting about the past as a wall to prevent communication and progress, and the other side ranting about wanting inflated communication and progress without acknowledging the past. We are at an impasse then, right? How do we move FORWARD? Because that is the only realistic direction in which to move!

I am disappointed that in my blog roll of design and lifestyle blogs, only THREE mentioned Orlando. In fact, I’m calling them out for kudos: Design*Sponge, Apartment 34, and Design Mom. Everyone else? We must keep appearances, shan’t we? Everything must still be floral, dreamy, and creamy, must be about minimalist interior decorating, makeup, and “effortless personal style.” As a lazy person, I defer to you ladies to be socio-responsible entrepreneurs. In other words, what I aspire to be. I’m taking a break from a few of those blogs. Not that you care, but whatever. My small stand.

To paraphrase the live action Cinderella movie: We MUST have courage. We MUST be kind.

And lastly, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

If any wants to leave their opinion in the comments section, please feel free to. If you don’t agree with me, let’s be civil. If not, have a beautiful life. 🙂