Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I "Heart" Barcelona

I have a friend who is going all the way to Spain for her Nadal-fix. She's gone to China two years ago to watch him play. And to Bangkok last year to drool over him court-side. She's a stalker. She's crazy. Anyway, I digress.

Spent 6 days in Barcelona in the Summer of 2009. Weather was around 30-34 degrees but then I come from a tropical country so it wasn't really that bad.

Decided to stay in a hotel in the La Rambla area called Hostal Opera Ramblas. It's a budget hotel located along an alley a few meters away from the Opera and the Liceu metro station. A night's stay cost us around 55-63 euros. The hotel is located right smack in La Rambla which is a 1.2km-long street in central Barcelona that's very popular with both tourists and locals.

La Rambla Barcelona
Walking up La Rambla
Everything is walking distance from this area--the city beaches, the Boqueria, Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila (by Antoni Gaudi), countless bars, restaurants, hotels and even the shopping district.

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria Barcelona
Entrance to the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria Barcelona
La Boqueria bursting with colors
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia ceiling (taken while waiting for the lift)
View of the city from a Sagrada Familia tower
View from one of the towers of Sagrada Familia
Casa Mila by Antoni Gaudi
Casa Mila by Antoni Gaudi
Since my travel companion and I aren't the artsy-fartsy kind, we only spent 2 days doing the normal touristy stuff and decided to spend the rest of stay hanging out at the beach, both inside and outside the city. Beaches outside the city are a mere 10 to 15-minute train ride away with Castelldefels and Sitges being the two closest and most popular. If going to Sitges, the right beach is where gays mostly  hang out and the left beach, right behind the pink church, is where families and straight couples mostly go.

Cafe at a Barcelona city beach
Cool cafe at one of the city beaches
Sitges Beach
Sitges Beach
Restaurant by Sitges Beach
Lunch at a Restaurant by Sitges Beach
La Rambla is littered with restaurants so foodies need not fret. On our first day, we decided to eat at Pinotxo, a really tiny stall inside La Boqueria, which I've read so much about. The place doesn't have a printed/set menu so whatever they feel like cooking that day are the only ones available. Would do you good to know the Spanish words for chicken, pork, beef and seafood. Food was good, ingredients fresh and the caña cold.

Estofado and cana at Pinotxo Bar
Estofado and a Caña
While some of the restos along La Rambla are tourist traps, I strongly recommend having a bite at Cafe Viena which is just past La Boqueria. Order their Flauta d'Iberico d.o Jabugo. It only has 3 ingredients: jamon iberico, flauta (like baguette) and a juicy tomato that's rubbed on the bread to give it a bit of moisture and flavor (no tomato slices included in the sandwich!). So simple yet tastes so divine!
The.Best.Sandwich.Ever. Mark Bittman totally got it right on his article.

Flauta d'iberico at Cafe Viena Barcelona
Flauta D'Iberico d.o. Jabugo
Photo from here
Another thing not to be missed in Barcelona is the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. It truly is a spectacular display of color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics. It's not open the whole year so better check out their site for opening schedules. Highly recommended.

Magic Fountain of Montjuic Barcelona
Watched the Magic Fountain of Montjuic show...

Magic Fountain of Montjuic Barcelona
one Summer night. AWESOME!!!

My feet are itching to go back!

I love Barcelona

Cafe Viena
C/ La Rambla, 115
08002 Barcelona, Spain
+34 933 171 492

Mercat de la Boqueria, La Rambla
Barcelona, Spain 
+34 933 171 731

Hostal Opera Ramblas
C/ Sant Pau 20
08001 Barcelona, Spain
+34 933 188 201

Sagrada Familia
Plaça de la Sagrada Família, Mallorca, 401, 
08013 Barcelona
+34 932 073 031
For ticket info and opening hours, visit the Sacred Destinations page.

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