Barcelona Revisited

barcelona feature ps

One of the first posts on my blog was about my trip to Barcelona, Spain but I was new to blogging and didn’t quite know what to write about or who I was writing for. 10 months later, I still don’t have it all figured out but I do have a clearer voice and a little bit of a vision.  On that note, I’ve decided to do another post on my time in Barcelona with a bit more insight to what we did outside of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour.

THE APARTMENT:

After lots of research, we decided to rent an apartment on VRBO in El Born (one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city).  The only thing I didn’t like about the apartment was that it was on the 5th floor and there was no elevator. However, the hubs and I decided it was a good way to work off all the food and booze we planned on consuming during our 5 day vacation.  The apartment was very centrally located and it allowed us to walk from one end of the city to the other (including the beach) while taking in the beauty of each neighborhood.   Even though we walked everywhere, we were just a few minutes away from the train station near Plaça Reial.

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(Note: Click the map to see a larger photo  – click again in the new window and see it even larger.  Notice how close we were to the beach, Las Ramblas, Plaça Reial and several museums including Picasso’s.)

THE FOOD:

One of my favorite things about Barcelona was the food!  My husband and I are huge foodies and we mostly travel to eat!  The owner of our vacation rental was kind enough to give us a few great suggestions on where to have excellent Tapas and Paella, two things that should not be missed when visiting Spain.

Our first night, we met up with a friend from the U.S. and she took us to Santa Caterina (below, right) for dinner. While this place had more of a fusion vibe, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was great. We returned on another day for a late night snack and a pitcher of Sangria! If you visit, don’t forget to stop by in the daytime so you can shop in the Santa Caterina Market!  After dinner, we went to Plaça Reial for a drink at Ocaña where we ended up dancing until dawn, literally.

For Tapas, mostly seafood, we went to a small, unassuming restaurant called Betlem (below, left) that had incredible tapas prepared in the tiny kitchen in the back.  I’m sure I ate my weight in mussels and olives.  Seriously, I love olives but Spanish olives are amazing and I could live off those alone.

barcelona spain betlam and santa caterina

Another restaurant that came highly recommended was Xiringuito Escriba (below) located ocean front on Barceloneta Beach. I had a hard time making a reservation for 10 pm because I’m American and I’m used to eating dinner at 7 or 8 pm but when in Spain…!  At dinner, we sat next to a lovely Catalan couple and they gave us a few suggestions on what to do during the remainder of our stay.  We enjoyed the conversation as much as we enjoyed the olives, razor clams, and the seafood paella!  By the time we finished our meal, it was nearing 1 am and we were shocked at how late it was but no one around us seemed to notice the time.

xiringuito escriba barcelona spain ps

After dinner, the Catalan woman reviewed my dinner choices and said “you certainly don’t eat like an American!”   To me, this was an awesome compliment!  It made me feel like my two years living abroad and my travels around the world had refined my palate and opened my eyes to more than just “American/Americanized” food.  Plus, when I was growing up, my mom would take us out to eat and she never let us order the same thing twice.  She always said we should try new things to broaden our horizons.  Don’t get me wrong, a burger and a side of fries will never get old but I love eating local cuisine.

THE SIGHTS:

As I covered in my initial Barcelona post, we did the Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour and that allowed us to see the city in one day and plan our route for the rest of our trip.  The highlights were the Picasso museum (be prepared for a looooooong line), Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, Barceloneta Beach, Las Ramblas, CasaBatlloo, and most of the “not to be missed” sights.

My first thoughts of Barcelona were that it lacked something that was quintessentially Barcelona.  I mean, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rome has the Colosseum, Athens has the Parthenon but I couldn’t put my finger on what Barcelona had until we attended La Festa Catalan and watched the Castellers.  Watching the Castellers build human towers with the tiniest little kids on top was surely a treat!  The music, the excitement, and the fear was all part of the fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the show.

Yes, I know that the Catalan festival is not unique to Barcelona (and it’s not a landmark or ancient ruin) but it was the first time I felt like I was seeing something I hadn’t seen in another European country since we landed.

Overall, I loved Spain and I wish we could have seen more of it.  We will return one day and I can’t wait!


I’d love to hear your stories about Spain.  Leave your comments below.

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Comments

  1. Reply

    One of my favorite things about Barcelona was the food too, but maybe it was because I coupled it with a little too much Sangria 😉

    1. Reply

      Haha, yes, we had plenty of that too! You can’t go to Spain and not drink Sangria but the food was just as good.

  2. Reply

    So glad to hear you loved your time in Barcelona – we haven’t been yet though everyone who has been always says amazing things. Would love to travel for the sights – I’ve heard so many great stories about the sheer amount of things to do and see in Barcelona and also the stunning architecture.

    Lol and on the note about your accommodation – I’ve actually found no elevators seems to be a bit of a trend throughout Europe apartments!! We usually try and get the ground floor 😀

    1. Reply

      You definitely wouldn’t run out of things to do in Barcelona. There are also, a few places just outside the city that shouldn’t be missed. We were there for 5 days and still didn’t even scratch the surface of all there was to see.

      As for the apartment, I think I lost about 5 pounds going up and down those steep, narrow stairs. Normally, I pick a place that’s on the second or third floor but the private rooftop deck won us over!

  3. Reply

    Spain is a place I would love to visit someday, especially Barcelona. I think what draws me in so much is the food as Spanish is one of my favourite cuisines and I image it will be a million times better in Spain than it is in Sydney.

    1. Reply

      I, too, am a lover of Spanish food! I didn’t realize how much until I went to Barcelona. It’s funny, you never know how different the food really is until you go. Obviously, you know it will be authentic when you’re in that country but you don’t expect the food back home to be way off. We had the same issue with Thailand. We couldn’t eat the awful Thai food we always loved after we returned from our trip!

    • Will
    • July 12, 2015
    Reply

    Barcelona & the rest of Spain is fantastic. Love tapas, siestas and topless women at the beach…as well as the all night partying!

    1. Reply

      Haha, there was no shortage of tapas and topless women in Barcelona! The all-night partying wasn’t bad either!

  4. Reply

    I was also in Barcelona (for a second time) recently. Your food pictures are bringing the whole experience back. It’s a wonderful place to walk around. Thanks for the great recommendations – I’ll give them a try on my next visit.

    Here’s wishing you success as you continue your journey as a blogger.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Jennifer! Yes, Barcelona is a wonderful city and there’s so much to see and taste. I look forward to seeing your pictures from your next visit.

  5. Reply

    I too could live off Spanish Olives!
    I´ve always known that Barcelona is a city to be eaten! Lovely post.

    1. Reply

      My husband, who doesn’t like olives, thought I was nuts when I said they taste different in Spain. I really want to go back because there was so much we didn’t see during our 5 days so I can see many trips in our future.

  6. Reply

    The food was one of my favourite things about Barcelona too! I fell in love with Spain when we were there a few months ago. It’s absolutely somewhere I would consider living in Europe.

    1. Reply

      This was my first time to Spain but I loved it. If I don’t get to live in Rome, Barcelona will be my backup city!

  7. Reply

    Friends of ours with children are heading to Barcelona. We have young ones in tow also and would love to visit there. Reading between the lines, it looks like a child-friendly place.

    1. Reply

      Yes, we saw lots of families out and about! If you can believe, we even saw small children out well past midnight but it’s their culture so it’s not odd to them. It’s a fun city with lots to do so I’d say go!

  8. Reply

    I loved Spain so much! I only spent a day in Barcelona, but I thought it was really nice. I had a great time at the zoo.

    1. Reply

      Even one day is better than nothing! I didn’t get to the zoo but I’m sure I’ll go back again many times!

  9. Reply

    Spain is one of my favourite countries in the world and Barcelona one of my favourite cities. I know what you’re saying about it missing a landmark though. But there’s still so much to see in the city…and so much to eat!

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