Destination: Barcelona, Spain
Local attractions: art, culture, history, tapas, gastronomy, beach
Accommodation: Hostal Eden
Transport: walking + public transport
Dates: July 1-2, 2019
After three days in the Costa Brava area, we drove back down to Barcelona, for about a day and a half of sightseeing. I’d been to Barcelona once before in 2008 when I was 16, so it was nice to see it and enjoy it again as an adult. I wouldn’t say I loved Barcelona the way I do other places, but it was better than I remembered. Maybe like Toulouse, Barcelona is more a city where I would live, rather than visit, based on my personal preferences and tastes. What I liked most is that Barcelona has everything any other major city has to offer – restaurants, nightlife, shopping, culture, etc. – but there’s also a beach, which can’t be said for every city, like mine.
Barcelona is a city rich in culture, art and history. Beyond that, the food scene is very active, with tapas bars on every street corner but also a good amount of international food. Where we stayed, at Hostal Eden, there were a lot of Asian restaurants. I really enjoyed my stay at Hostal Eden, which I can’t say for every hostel I’ve stayed at before. We had our own private room and bathroom, with mini fridge and air conditioning and we were very conveniently located a five minute walk from 2 metro stations. In terms of value for money, we definitely got it.
Day 1: Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Camp Nou, La Flauta Restaurant, La Rambla
After a beach-filled morning in Tamariu, we left Costa Brava and drove back down to Barcelona. Our first stop was the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which sits atop Tibidabo mountain. From the photos I had seen on the internet, this seemed like a stunning church. It definitely was, but the entire experience is ruined by the miniature “amusement park” (if you can even call it one) adjacent to it, that is Tibidabo Amusement Park. For me, it really tarnished the whole experience and made it feel very un-authentic. At least, they had some yummy churros for sale.
Since we still had a car, Alex decided he wanted to to Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s stadium. They charge a ridiculous 30 euros (so $45 CAD) to go visit the empty stadium; needless to say, we skipped out on that. We walked around instead and enjoyed a nice cold beer and flauta.
After returning our car rental and checking-in to our hostal, we ventured out to find some food (it was like 4pm and we hadn’t really eaten anything since breakfast). Hostal Eden is located in Eixample, an area full of both authentic Spanish/tapas restaurants and also Asian restaurants. We ended up at La Flauta, a really nice tapas restaurant. We ordered a bunch of different tapas to share, which were all very good: patatas bravas, mixed fried fish and seafood, shrimp and mushroom croquettes, chorizo and red pepper flauta, chicken strips and a mini brownie.
Post-“dinner”, we had a nice nap and then headed back out at around 9pm. We walked up and down La Rambla, did some shopping and finally stopped at a small restaurant just off La Rambla for some mixed paella (seafood and meat).
Day 2: Park Guëll, Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter, Cal Pep Restaurant, Barceloneta, Eixample, Takumi Ramen
We started our day off pretty early, considering how this was our last chance to see and explore Barcelona! We started by catching a metro to Park Guëll, to visit that first. From my memory of having been there 11 years ago, I couldn’t recall needing a ticket to visit; however, things have changed since then. You need a ticket to enter the balcony area and you have to purchase them ahead of time, otherwise you’ll only be able to see it from afar, which is what happened to us (the only day of tickets left were for 8pm and it was 10am).
We proceeded to catching a bus to go see la Sagrada Familia from the outside, which is a very stunning building with very unique decoration and architecture. Here too, you need a ticket to go in, but we had chosen not to do that in advance.
Afterwards, we caught another metro and got out at the Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona and then made our way by foot down and across the old Gothic Quarters, which are very nice. This led us to our lunch spot: Cal Pep, which had been recommended to me by Paco from Olé Tapas here in Montreal, as his favorite tapas restaurant in Barcelona. It was indeed a fantastic experience and I ate the best tortilla (Spanish omelette) I’ve ever had. I don’t know how they do it and that’s definitely not how I make mine (lol) but theirs was so creamy and liquidy on the inside and then covered in garlic aïoli. We also had some excellent clams, which I need to figure out how to remake. All of the tapas we had – fried artichoke, pan con tomate, calamari – were chosen by the waiter and based on the day’s fresh and available produce. Although everything was very good, it was a very expensive lunch and quite frankly overpriced.
Post-lunch, we made our way [rolled down] to la Barceloneta; Barcelona’s very own beach! The last time I had been here, this beach was pretty disgusting; there was a lot of trash everywhere and even tampons floating around in the water. It was like a complete 360 this time around, or at least, from my 16 year old memory; beautiful clean blue water and sandy beach and a lot of restaurants and terrasses lining the beach.
After the beach, we headed back to our hostal for our daily afternoon nap, before heading back out for some ramen! Yes, we couldn’t help it; there was a highly rated ramen restaurant – Takumi Ramen – right next to our hostal (and Alex was done with tapas anyways) so we had to try it. Alex got this kind of bento platter, with a bunch of different things on it, while I opted for a karaage chicken ramen with wontons; delicious!