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Barcelona Barcelona where have you been all my life! Days 1 and 2

Barcelona Barcelona where have you been all my life! Days 1 and 2

Jul 5th, 2015, 09:41 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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Barcelona Barcelona where have you been all my life! Days 1 and 2

Hi all,

I'm not sure how often I'll get to post on here during my trip but, after so much helpful advice from Fodorits, I wanted to at least say I have arrived and, well, WOW!!

Yeah, no revolutionary statement there, I know, but hey - it's my wow and I've never been able to say it before because not only have I never been to Barcelona, or Spain for that matter, but I've never been to Europe before now.

I'm from Australia so it's not a revolutionary statement either to announce that the plane trip was long ... But it sure felt longer than when I went to Canada, although the this one was only 22 hours, while the Canadian journey was over 24.

Anyway, after a long trip leaving Friday night Australian time, via only a rushed 20 minutes in Singapore, we finally landed in Barcelona at 8am Saturday. Quickest customs and baggage collection I've experienced and we were quickly in a taxi on our way to our apartment in l'eixample area. By now I was hot, sweaty and tired, so when we had to wait an hour for our host to arrive just to store our bags til 2pm I was getting grumpy but quickly found a lovely cafe where they were very kind and let me change into my skirt and top.

Our bags stored we headed to Carrer d'Enric Granados, where we'd been advised had good coffee, by an Australian gentleman on the flight who was married to a Spanish lady and was meeting her back in her home town. Coffee was OK. After feeling like I'd been eating for 24 hours on the plane, I wasn't hungry just yet - also the climate and time zone is so different my stomach is still adjusting!

We then wandered up Avignuda Diagonal and onto Passeig de Gracia - OMG we are really here! It was an amazing feeling. We wandered in and out of shops and just relished being in the heart and buzz of a Barcelona weekend. We sorted our phones, then found ourselves in Placa de Catalunya and onto La Ramblas, and then into the Mercat de la Boqueira. OK so I have to use that word again - WOW! And yes I had to use it in capital letters. The fruits!! The tapas bars!! The meats!! The seafood!! The vegetables!! The people!! In case you're not sure, I love it. We purchased ourselves some fruit and then headed back to the apartment as it was ready to check in and out third friend's flight had arrived.

Check in done, it was time for some tapas. We were incredibly early by Spanish standards 5.30pm, but luckily enough for us, that had that had been recommended (Flauta in l'eixample) was open and occupied by other keen diners and drinkers. A wine in hand, some prawns watering my mouth and I felt like I had arrived in heaven.

We stayed on for a couple of hours, drinking some more, eating some more (the feta was unlike anything I have had at home; the vegetables so fresh; sardines so amazing I actually liked them (I don't usually) and the prawns were amazing. And the vino went down pretty well too.

Onto another tapas bar for some more vino and vodka and by then my body clock was hitting the alarm buzzer. It was approximately 6am Sunday morning Australian time and I had had five hour sleep since Friday morning, Australian time, so if I was going to get through the rest of the trip it was time for bed!

I fell into unconsciousness the moment my head hit the pillow around 10.30pm and didn't open them again until 6am. I felt victorious; I was now on Spain time!

So, after easing into the morning, I got up and into my running shoes, out the door just after 7am. I admit I was a little hesitant about this. I love to run and I love to see other places as I run. But not knowing the city, but knowing it was warm (24 deg already compared to my winter at home), could be busy and I could easily get lost, I was a little daunted. But I told myself the only way to overcome any concerns I had was to just get out there and do it. And so I did. I planned to run to Parc de Ciutadella- thanks to some Fodor advice - via the Arc de Triomf - but when I got to the Arc, my eyes were so in love with what they were seeing that I had to keep going. My planned 6km journey expands to 11km, as I made my way to the beach and back. I did feel a little ill as my stomach adjusted to the warm weather run at a strange time of the day (compared to the Australian time zone), but I didn't want to stop. I ventured through the Parc de Ciutadella on the way home, found some presumable backpackers camping out, some homeless person people whose beds were benches (saw lots of these through my wanderings, like most cities) and some early morning table tennis players. The parc is beautiful! I hope to return in the morning, perhaps for a walk around the perimeter this time.

Eventually home it was time to shower before brunch. We found the most delightful cafe, where our wait was 10 minutes but I read online it can be up to an hour for lunch. Brunch & Cake in l'eixample is its name and I - among many others - highly recommend it. The coffee was amazing!! As good as Melbourne's. I still wasn't hungry after my warm weather run but the menu looked so good and I knew I needed food so I ordered avocado toast with a side of fruit sales and granola. I couldn't get through it all because the avocado (with lemon and feta was so rich) but it was mouth watering. My friends had a bacon bagel with eggs benedict and a waffle with eggs benedict respectively.

Time for some shopping in the mall off Placa de Catalunya (I haven't bought anything yet but plan to go back on our last day - Tuesday), but first watched the amazing cavalcade of motorcycles roar their way through the Dreta de l'eixample - apparently it was to honour the war. Does anyone know mor about this??

Then it was onto Montjuic. Again WOW! We toured through the Castell and gazed over the views. We walked down a bit and I wanted to see the national gallery but we got ourselves a little lost and because one friend was feeling unwell and the other wanted to go home, we got into a cab and they went home while I got them to drop me a Placa d'Espanya.

Enjoying being on my own for a bit, I wandered around, through the shopping centre and up to its rooftop view, before getting the metro back to la Boqueira only to find it closed. Should have checked but oh well. I then wandered back through la Ramblas and to a tapas bar my friends had picked out. Some vino later, I left them there and have headed back to the apartment.

And to this trip report ...

My friends are now back so I best shower before it is time to head to dinner at Teresa Carles.

I will pick this thread back up soon I hope.

Adios until then. I will try to give trip reports as regularly as I can. Tomorrow we are off to Sagrada la Familia and then Parc Guell.

RT.
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 09:50 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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thank you so much RT for taking the time to drop in and tell us how you are getting on. it's great to read someone so enthusiastic not to mention energetic.

don't worry about us, we'll still be here when you get home - get out there and enjoy yourself!
annhig is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 09:53 AM
  #3  
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No thank you annhig. It's all you guys who helped me plan this and now I'm living and loving it!
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 09:59 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Thanks for posting...I felt the same way my first time in Barcelona
Been back eight times.
danon is online now  
Jul 5th, 2015, 04:37 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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I am going to follow along - I leave in a month so any pointers will be most appreciated! I love the enthusiasm!
kelsey22 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 05:31 PM
  #6  
 
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Sounds wonderful. I'm along for the virtual ride.
Nikki is online now  
Jul 5th, 2015, 06:44 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
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WOW...I definitely agree! I was in Barcelona a month ago and it is the one destination that I will return to over and over again.
Enjoy every minute.
Gamewood is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 09:29 PM
  #8  
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Great! I would love to keep sharing my experiences with you. kelsey which area are you staying in?

Question for the experienced trip reporters - do I continue to update this report or start a new one for subsequent days?

RT
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2015, 09:37 PM
  #9  
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Oh and I just reread this and found all the typos - I'm doing this on an iPhone so I apologise! There doesn't seem to be a way you can edit it either. I'm sorry it looks a bit sloppy.

RT
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Jul 6th, 2015, 02:05 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5,934
Just a couple of tips:

On this Thursday night you can experience the "duende" of flamenco in an apartment in Gaudí's out of this world La Pedrera (Casa Milà): https://www.lapedrera.com/en/activit...-at-la-pedrera

The Grec festival is going on through all of July. Concerts and performances every night in the spectacular outdoor Teatre Grec at the foot of Montjuic or in close by and prestigious Mercat de les Flors.
The Grec theater and the "Ciutat del Teatre". http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/...el-teatre.html
Program and tickets: http://lameva.barcelona.cat/grec/en/

Can highly recommend a late night dinner after a concert up here in Xemei, 300 meters from both Teatre Grec and Mercat de les Flors. Had one of the best meals of my life here in March. The Bigoli en salsa Veneziana tasted like nothing I've eaten before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lvcjtoh0tU
kimhe is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 02:24 AM
  #11  
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Thanks kimhe, we leave Wednesday morning unfortunately.

We are now on our way to sagrada, may do Parc Guell later, perhaps some shopping too. I think we are booking dinner at Pla tonight.

Tomorrow we are doing a bike tour and then shopping if I don't do it today. I'd really like to go back to Montjuic to the gallery but not sure I'll have time. There is so much more to do but time is against us and I guess that there'd still be so much more to see and do no matter how long I spent here!
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 02:54 AM
  #12  
 
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Pla sounds like a good plan. Have two more excellent Barcelona days!
kimhe is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 07:03 AM
  #13  
 
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Yes, keep updating this trip report, so that it's all in one place. Enjoy the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.
Rubicund is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 10:07 AM
  #14  
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OK, thanks Rubicund. I wish I could edit the title in that case because I am now on day three of four!

So, to pick up the thread where I left off yesterday as promised, we headed to Teresa Carles for dinner. It is a vegetarian restaurant about 10 minutes walk from our apartment, near Placa Catalunya. I think it is officially in the El Raval area. And it was sublime. One of our group of three is vegetarian and a foodie, so she has been finding us many amazing places to eat, and this one lived up to expectations. We started with entrée of artichoke hearts with quail egg, goats cheese croquettes, a light salad and 'healthy nachos', before moving onto mains. We each picked a pasta - I had a pumpkin ravioli on a bed of eggplant cushions, another had 'pasta paella' which was divine, and the third of our group had a mushroom truffle pasta. All up, with a bottle of wine, our bill was €90, which is what our previous night cost us too at Flauta. So good food comes pretty cheap in Barcelona!

We then headed in the direction of the Sagrada Familia, but I'm not quite sure where we're I'm sorry! I think we stayed on La Rambla to get to the little bar we found, deviating down some fabulous laneways. One mojito later and we headed home, with one of us tired and the other wanting to party but not finding much action at 11pm. So home we went for a last vino in the apartment.

I woke early again but didn't get up til just after 7am, opting to walk to Parc Ciutadella with one of my friends. It's about 2.5km from us and with a stroll around the park thrown in we took about 90 minutes. Then it was time for a shower and breakfast before a trip to Sagrada. We opted to go back to Brunch & Cake, so good was our experience there yesterday. The coffee!! I come from near Melbourne, Australia, a city renowned for its good coffee. So we have high standards. This cafe meets expectations and surpasses them. Beautiful. I did kind of regret the coconut bread however - delicious but a little sweet for breakfast. I basically ate cake. Oh well!

Ok so now it was time for some Gaudi! We hopped in a cab. By now it was over 30 degrees, my back was tight and sore from so much walking in the previous two days, not to mention 90 minutes already today and a run yesterday. I'm also still recovering from a foot injury so I am trying to be smart! We got to the Sagrada Familia, tickets in hand and feeling very clever to have pre-booked the skip the line option. Did I mention how hot it was! And crowded doesn't do it justice. It was as though a dozen planes had just arrived, this street was a runway and everyone just hopped out at once!

So it's no surprise to hear I was impressed with what we found inside. The led lights, the beautiful colours and the details throughout the amazing building were mind blowing. We had booked a ticket for the passion tower, allowing us to reach the top via an elevator that lets a small number through each cycle up and down at a pre-booked block of time. My friends were unsure of whether to go after learning of how narrow and enclosed the space would be. But I ventured up (they eventually did too after me). The spectacular views and access to parts of the building still under construction outside was worth it. But I decided to descend via the stairs (you can't go up them but you can go down) and let me just say I didn't realise I had a fear of heights til I was a quarter of the way down. Thank god there was a hand rail! I faced it - not the open descent - and side stepped carefully, chatting to a lovely man from Israel who was very patient with the fragile Australian! On steady, wider, ground level floor, I found my friends and we headed out, bound for Parc Guell in another cab. I went in alone while they went to the tavern outside. Now I will confess that I didn't do justice to this beautiful Parc. I was hot, my foot was a bit sore by this point and I didn't think I should venture too far. But I did make it into Gaudi's house and up a couple of levels of the winding path, enamoured by the beauty of the place. I didn't go into the area where you need a ticket (other than buying a ticket for the house) but I did get to glimpse the beautiful architecture. But even without Gaudi's amazing work in here, the Parc is stunning. It's a veritable wonderland of green and colour, amazing paths winding their way up and up and up, while Gaudi stone walls mix with the gardens to provide a wilderness made from man and nature.

After a little while exploring, I headed back out and doing my friends. Another cab ride. This one to El Born. And yep WOW again. A hive of activity, more laneways, laced with beautiful boutiques and tapas bars. We stopped at Euskal Etxea. And I recommend you do too!! A late lunch for us consisted of three pieces of tapas each, some sangria for myself and another, and wine for our foodie of the group, who found this place too. I had a piece of tuna steak - the best I have ever tasted! It had a light vinegar dressing and was so chewy and meaty in all the good ways. I also went with a ham croquette and a bed of goats cheese, olive tapenade and cherry tomato on a small bit of bread. It was all so so good, I could have eaten three times the amount, even though I wasn't even hungry because the sun has sapped my appetite!

An hour or two later we headed home in another cab. My friend and I headed up the street to Placa Catalunya to try some shopping but quickly retreated. I shouldn't have tried when tired and grumpy!

We are off to Pla for dinner, which I think is near La Rambla. And again it looks amazing!

So some general observations: Barcelona is a melting pot overflowing with food, wine, cocktails, shopping, people and fun. The locals appear happy, they walk with purpose but are not at all rushed. The roads are a one way maze, in the central area bordering smaller lanes for bikes and buses, but traffic flows mostly well, drivers are patient and everything just seems to work. The laneways are amazing. In El Born today I felt like I was on a historical film set, watching ladies cycle past on old fashioned bikes, people gathering in front of fhe Santa Maria church, or inside the many beautiful tapas bars. The only sign of the present was the boutiques.

Last night, when we were over in another district, somewhere between Eixample and Sagrada, we found more laneways, these ones housing men who serenaded eager crowds. Another movie set experience. I love the placas outside apartment buildings in areas where the laneways widen momentarily to allow for them, before converging once more. Everything here is beautiful!

But did I mention it was hot! 35 degrees by the time we got home. And now, I need a shower! So I will sign off for now once more.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope I am not too rambling today and have not made too many iPhone typos. It's hard work doing this on a phone!

RT
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Jul 6th, 2015, 10:08 AM
  #15  
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PS I will put some weblinks in later, for those who want to try what we have so far!
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 01:55 PM
  #16  
 
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I would appreciate those links.
kelsey22 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 02:34 PM
  #17  
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Hi kelsey, I might add them all at once at the end of my Barca trip, which is Wednesday, unless I get a chance tomorrow. I'll try to add everywhere we have been, bearing in mind our experience is no way near comprehensive - but it's a taste and should recommend some beautiful eating spots for you.

RT
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Jul 6th, 2015, 10:05 PM
  #18  
 
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Barça is the football club FC Barcelona and not the city ... ;-)
kimhe is offline  
Jul 6th, 2015, 11:13 PM
  #19  
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Thanks kimhe ... I'm sure I've made many faux pas on the trip so far!
RT2015 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2015, 06:14 PM
  #20  
 
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@RT - Just enjoy your trip I will follow...
kelsey22 is offline  

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