Notes from my March 6 - 11 2017 trip to Barcelona with Ksenia.
We didn’t use the transit system. Either stuff was within walking distance or we took cabs. Barcelona has it’s own cab app (works like Uber), so you can hail one that way if you wish. The app is called Helo. I found the app through Google maps. Input the address in Google Maps you want to get to, and then click on “Hail a Cab” and app suggestions will pop up.
We like using our credit cards when we travel abroad (we have one that has no foreign transactions fees), and Barcelona was very credit-card friendly (unlike Germany….ugh that’s a whole other story). Also, I find that more and more places ask (when charging stuff to your CC) if you want to pay in Euros or US dollars. Definitely pay with Euros. The price difference may be small, but it starts to add up if you keep using your CC.
Ham. There are several types but what you want to eat will be the black hoof iberico. Sweat, salty, tender, melt in your mouth. Amazing.
There’s more foie here than I would have expected. We wound up eating foie and ham each and every day. It was delightful.
Tapas tend to be very regional dishes in Spain. Which means that you can only find a handful of different options wherever you go. Except Barcelona. Barcelona never had the tapas tradition, so when they started becoming a thing Barcelona just made everyone else’s and then invented some new ones. This means that if you want to try all the tapas, Barcelona is where you want to be. I enjoyed eating tapas at the bar. It’s nice to have the bartender around so you can easily and quickly order another dish. And you will be ordering another dish.
Pan con tomate or tomato bread is a common dish where they rub a mushy tomato on some crispy (sometimes purposefully stale) bread and drizzle some olive oil over it. It is delicious and you can find it everywhere. If a spot doesn’t have good tomato bread then it’s probably not worth eating anything else there.
Reservations aren’t required but can be helpful.
- Tapas @ Catalana
- Good not great.
- La Pepta
- We went to eat here twice! Ksenia still talks about the foie gras topped with white chocolate and hazelnut shavings. They do giant gintonics.
- In can get VERY crowded in there so if you get there RIGHT at 7:30pm (when they re-open for dinner), you should be able to get a seat at the bar.
- Walking Food Tour of Gracia
- Gracia is a neighborhood with a unique identity and great food. This tour was one of our highlights of the trip! Highly recommend! It just so happened that on our tour it was me, Ksenia, and one other person, plus the guide. Gracia is delightful! Also, if you like getting one-of-a-kind clothing, this is the place to walk around! K got several shirts for herself and mom here. In one shop, the owner/designer had her studio right behind her, with all the materials she needed to make the shirts.
- Con Tosca - a cute cafe where we had sausage on tomato bread and a glass of cava.
- Local market
- I Conservas Gloria for olives
- Fabregas for ham
- La Trobada del Gourmet for cheese and jams
- Oil Sal a salt and oil store where we had olive oil tasting
- l’Anxoveta a cute bar, we had tomato bread and crouqets
- Pastisseria Principe a Syrian pastry shop that’s been there for 30 years
- Bodega Ca’l Pep an ancient very local bar. We had vermouth, pickled anchioves, and sausage.
- La botigueta del Bon Menjar a small shop that sells premade food. very local
- Pastissera Ideal another pastry shop. We had cremat - a Spanish version of creme brulee (it actually predates the French version)
- La Pubilla
- My favorite restaurant. I’d recommend a reservation, or just getting there when they open.
- We ate here twice. When we came back the second time we were welcomed like old friends.
- Between K and I, we ate like 90% of the menu between the two trips there. And we were not disappointed.
- The waiter was gave us some great wine recommendations, they have some really local stuff there. Like 1km away local.
- Best croquets we had
- Homemade pate
- The capacio was one of the best things I ate on this trip.
- Alta Taberna Paco Meralgo
- Tapeo del Born
- Near the Picasso Museum. We ate here on our last night, at the bar.
- It feels a bit more touristy but the food was still good. K liked it more than I did.
- When we ordered our food, one of the guys behind the bar asked if we had come there before because he was impressed with our choices.
- The Foie Gras burger was good.
- Mercado de la Boqueria
- Not a restaurant, but it has plenty of stalls in it where you can get all sorts of food
- Butchers sell “meat cones” - charcuterie in a paper cone.
- Fresh juices
- Hot food
Gintonic has recently become a thing in Spain. According to a bartender I spoke with Hendrix put a lot of ad dollars into the area and it worked. There are dedicated gin bars with dozens if not hundereds of bottles to choose from. Josh loved these places. A lot.
While gin is the new fad, vermouth is the traditional drink. The early afternoon is called “the vermouth hour”. It’s when you’re supposed to get together with some friends and have a glass of vermouth, a few sardines, and chat.
Another classic is cava, a Spanish sparkling white wine.
- A gintonic bar that also has a great tea list.
- Several dozen options for gin, with useful descriptions.
- The menus are on the back of LPs.
- They do flights
- Bobby’s Gin
- Hundreds of bottles of gin
- Very knowledgeable bartenders
- Lots of obscure and local gins
- No food
Barcelona is the city of Gaudi.
- Sagrada Familia
- Definitely worth booking a ticket with a tour, the “guided experience”, as the tour guide will point out elements to you that you will have missed on your own. Tickets
- Definitely purchase online! You can choose which time you want to go in.
- Entrance will be on the “old” side, not the Cubist side.
- We went in the afternoon and the lighting through the orange/red stained glass windows was AMAZING inside because the sun was setting.
- This was by far my favorite part of Barcelona that I couldn’t eat or drink.
- Casa Batlló
- This house is AMAZING! Don’t miss it!
- The audioguide is worth it. There are so many details.
- The interior was really cool with all sorts of curved walls and doors. It felt like being in an underwater fairytale.
- Park Guell (aka Gaudi Park)
- So the park is free BUT if you want to go visit the section of the park with all the Gaudi stuff you have to buy a ticket and it’s timed entrances. We didn’t realize this when we went (this is a very recent thing, as the entire thing used to be free) We got there at like 3, got our ticket for 4:30, and in between that time we walked around through the rest of the park which has several layers. It is a nice walk and you have some great views. The Gaudi section will be crowded. So if you’d like, plan in advance and get tickets online for a timed entry. FYI: the entire park is up on a hill! We went to the Park after we did the food tour, because it was essentially a straight shot from the endpoint of the tour (and because stuff was closed at 2pm-ish).
- Palau Guell
- My least favorite of the Gaudi sites, perhaps because it was the last.
- The roof has amazing views but is very sloped. It may not bother some people but I was terrorfied up there. Frozen and refused to move without holding on to something.
- Sagrada Familia
- Free Walking Tour
- We did three of these in Germany and one in Barcelona. Really great way for you to quickly learn the lay of the land, the history, and some great anecdotes.
- Picasso Museum
- I’m a huge fan and this museum is in a very nice building too! Also some good shopping in the area too!
- La Rambla
- Very touristy so keep an eye out for pick pockets.
- Only worth it as a way to get to Mercado de la Boqueria
- Paper store that sells hand, bound deckled, leather notebooks.
- Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
- Very modern very out there. We did not enjoy this museum. It’s the type of modern art that people sneer at when they think of modern art. Like a banquet table that is set with plates of rice died to look like the flags of various nations, but then they left all the food to rot. Or a wall made out of loaves of white bread.
Hotel Praktik Bakery is a hotel with a bakery on the first floor. Sounds a bit gimmicky except that they legitimately have the best bread in the city. There are lines out the door of locals and tourists. You can see the bakers making the bread in the front window. The pastries are amazing, and the grab and go sandwich I got for breakfast was legitimately one of the best sandwiches I ever had.
They do a continental style breakfast, but it’s better to just get something from the bakery directly.
If a bakery doesn’t tickle your fancy, Praktik has other themed hotels in Barcelona, including a wine bar slash hotel.
Oh, and the rooms have rain showers.
All of that, plus a great location.