After Paris our next port of call was Barcelona, which turned out to be a welcome change of pace from the masses of people in Paris. Come to think of it though, there was still a shit load of people. It was just different.
The whole place had a very relaxed vibe about it. It is a place that makes you want to be there.
We packed much less into our days in Barcelona, partly because we were pretty wrecked by this stage, and partly because relaxing is what experiencing Barcelona is all about. The one touristy thing we did was go on a bicycle tour, which was awesome. It took around 3.5 hours to do, which sounds like a long time in 30 degree heat and significant humidity, but there were plenty of stops on the way, and we even got a free beer at the end as part of the tour.
We also spent a lot of time eating! The B&B where we stayed was excellent at making us feel welcome, so much so that Roberto, the guy that checked us in, sat us down with a map and spent at least half an hour showing us all of these points of interest on a hand annotated map that he had marked for us! This included touristy sites, ways to see Barcelona (tourist bus or bike tour etc etc) and all of the good restaurants to eat at. Every night we tried one of the recommendations on the list, and for the most part we weren’t disappointed. Typically what we ended up ordering was a set menu setup, where we would get a choice of entrees, mains, dessert and usually a beer as well for around €15, which was pretty good value. Chereen and I have both developed a love for Seafood Paella, which is kind of like risotto, and usually had whole mussels, prawns and calamari in it, and the couple that we tried were superb.
The rest of the time we spent on or near the beach. What i didn’t know was that the main beach at Barcelona is actually artificial, built as part of the city construction efforts for the 1992 Olympics, which i found quite surprising for a town that has a big beach culture.
Its a little bit hard to read, but that says 290kmh! This was the train on the Spanish side of the border, which was a million times nicer than the French TGV.
On the way from Figueras (border town where you change trains) to Barcelona. First class rail is certainly a comfortable way to travel, although the British and Spanish trains were nicer than the French and Italian Trains.
Our room at the B&B. King size bed, incredibly friendly hosts, €1 beers in the fridge, right in the centre of Barcelona, and all for €75 a night. Certainly the pick of the places we have stayed so far.
We checked in and went straight down to the beach!
Restaurant where we had dinner first night, as you can see it is almost on the beach. There were some that were literally on the beach but they were more cafe style rather than a restaurant.
Seafood Paella and beer. Note that this was the ENTREE. They were about the same size as the mains!
Chereen drinking sangria
Preparing for our bicycle tour
Some of the houses in Barcelona use the thousand year old Roman wall as part of their structure!
Some of the roman structures that have been build around, and then preserved
I can’t remember the reason, but behind chereens hand is a gold handprint, and you are supposed to give it a low-five for good luck
La Sagrada Familia
The view from the balcony at our B&B. Just about every one of the old houses in Barcelona is built in a similar format. The ground floor is some sort of shop, be that a clothes shop, restaurant, or bar. The first level is then the grandest, with high ceilings, large balconies, big windows etc. This is where the builder of the house lived. The building is typically 4-5 stories high, gradually reducing in quality, which would be rented out to other people.
At the bottom of our B&B we had maybe 5 restaurants or bars within 50m. People in Barcelona (and in Spain in general i think) have dinner quite late, typically at 9-11pm, so even at 11 on a sunday night there was a very vibrant atmosphere.
Entrance to the Picasso Museum. Seemed to concentrate on his early work, like his art school sketches, and some of his really late stuff. Which seemed to be the stuff NOT worth 100 million for a single painting. On the first sunday of the month it is free though, so we had good timing in that regard, because although interesting we probably wouldn’t have gone if we had to pay for it.
On the third day we went to a local food market in the morning to have a look around, and then spent the afternoon at the beach. This was the tapas dinner we had on the last night, which looks a little better than it tasted – the calamari was a bit oily. Was probably the only disappointing food we had in Barcelona, the rest was exceptional.
Awesome Gelati shop 50m from our B&B is really bad.