Oh ……. My …….. Goodness! Did we LOVE Barcelona!!!!!!! It is hard to put your finger on the “X” factor but take fantastic weather, food, people, architecture, culture, and arts plus trees, views, mosaics, ……….. and maybe there’s a start. Also it was so easy to get around.
We decided to go to Barcelona from Toulouse after dropping off our kiwi visitors at the airport and train stations. So we drove only 4 hours to get there – it is so strange for us isn’t it to think of driving the equivalent of Dunedin to Christchurch and actually going from one country to another. And the border control is the same – nil! Odd indeed. We drove through the Pyrenees………. So beautiful!!!!! We hadnt factored teh toll roads in – such good roads you dont mind paying – althogh from here to there it was 48 euro (about 80 dollars NZD)
We were to meet Cameron and Anna in Barcelona, but they were coming from Saissac, not Toulouse. We hadn’t made a meeting time just booked in to the same hotel and had text numbers to keep in touch. Imagine both our surprise and amusement to find when we got there and had driven round the block a couple of times looking for the car park, to pull up behind Cameron and Anna at the red lights! Kiwis, eh!
The hotel was very nice and very close to old Barcelona and La Rambles – the street with all the ,markets, stalls, performers etc. Stalls also include animal stalls of birds and turtles, flower stalls etc. It is so BUSY with people but a lot of fun to see also. Held on to my handbag very tightly!
So during the days each couple did our own things then at night we got together for dinner. With Cameron being a chef it was so amazing – for both of us to share the love of food and for me to share the enjoyment of food so much and to also learn from him. When we arrived Peter and I hadn’t eaten so we went to the pool bar on top of the hotel and had a sandwich. A lovely view but oh so hot! After that we meandered down the La Ramblas and across the La Ramblas le Mer bridge to the new part. There we saw so many people (it was a Sunday) and sat watching them in a cool breeze but still in the sun. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
The first night the hotel gave us a recommendation for tapas dinner – and it was on the same street as our hotel. Just had to walk past some amazing buildings, fountains, etc……… such hard work – not!
The restaurant was buzzing and packed so we had two seats at the bar and two standing. The waiter was from the Philippines so spoke good English (and Spanish) and so we could order well and we ate very well. The jamon (cured ham) was the best and so different than any I have tasted before and then the “surprise” chilies. There was a plate of fried medium sized chilies, so called surprise as some are very mild but have that wonderful chili taste, and a few are so hot……. “Surprise”. I loved them. We had some great local red wine to go with the meal. Those that ate fish enjoyed a variety of shellfish…….
The next day Peter and I did the “hop on hop off” bus. We love those as you see so much and then can decide where to go back to when you have more time. The architecture and the beauty were incredible.
There were two, two hour trips to do but after the first one we were so hot we decided we needed a drink in the shade. As most places over here close between 1 and 3pm we had a little trouble finding something that was not touristy – but eventually we did. A tiny “garden” bar in the back of a shop in a courtyard of apartments………. Not flash, but cool and full of trees.
Over a drink we met the owner – a man in his 60’s who has been very involved in the film industry in Spain. He was so interesting we decided to wait till tomorrow to do the next 2 hour hop on hop off.
We then went back to the hotel to freshen up and met Cameron and Anna. Cameron had sorted where to go for dinner but first we went to an amazing market / restaurant / bar for a drink. Then walked through the old back streets of Barcelona to the first tapas place. Oh my – we all loved it. They charge you by the number of tooth picks you have at the end – each tapas is on a tooth pick and you can go to the bar / counter to pick some up and / or they bring hot and new ones to your table.
Then we went to another one we had heard of – it was certainly a local experience being in a suburb compared to centre of town but not quite as exciting in the food department as the first one. Even so we were pleased to be there.
A walk home, a digestive in the bar, and an agreement to explore the local food market in the morning.
The food market – what an experience!!!!!!!!!!!! The freshness, the variety, the stalls selling breakfast, juices freshly squeezed……….. after looking around for awhile and learning about some of the foods we had not seen we ate at a tiny stall in the market. The boys had a beer each (me a glass of cava and an espresso) and fried eggs with baby squid on top, we all shared a plate of the most amazing variety of mushrooms sautéed in brandy with fresh bread, and then a shared plate of an array of frittata. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM…….. We then said goodbye to Cameron and Anna who had to go back to work in Antibes, and we went off for another explore of this beautiful city.
We so enjoyed the sights and loved the Guell Gardens “the Gaudi Gardens”………. what’s tp say but the photos!
It is hard to explain the city and as I said why it is so amazing. We hope the pictures help. This is one blog where I think words should be less and pictures more.