Just one more reason to love Spain.
19.03.2013 - 22.03.2013 16 °C
This is just one more reason to love Spain. Barcelona is an amazing city. The three days we spent there weren’t even close to enough, but we tried to cram in as much as we could during our short stay. This is another one of those cities I’ve just got to come back to. We did some walking tours here, a day trip to Montserrat, and spent some time wandering around the old city and Las Ramblas, but I feel like there’s still so much to see and do in the city.
Our first night we took a tour of the Born, in and around “Picassos” district. He lived in Barcelona for nine years when he was young, so there’s a really great museum which we unfortunately didn’t have time to see that has quite a bit of his earlier work. It’s a really trendy neighbourhood with tons of vintage and boutique shops, and even more tapas and pincho bars – which are, by the way, by far my new favourite type of pub. This is where I discovered this new great way to eat – pinchos. They’re basically like tapas, except usually on a piece of bread and always ready to serve. You kind of just walk into a place, pick up a few bites of something, pay and leave. There are a couple of places where you even just pay by the toothpick – at the end, they just count your toothpicks and you pay up. I guess the Spanish are honest people, or at least the Catalonians are.
We spent one day in the city walking around a doing a couple of tours. The first one showed us a few of Gaudí’s masterpieces, of course including the Sagrada Familia. I’ve seen some pictures of his buildings before, but in person they’re even weirder. I love the walking tours, though, because you learn so much about the things you’re looking at, which is great for lazy people like me who (unfortunately) don’t read up as much as they should before visiting such an epic city as Barcelona. We did another tour later that day of the Gothic quarter, or the old city, which was also excellent. I had no idea how rich and recent Barcelona’s history is.
That evening we went out for the mandatory Paella while in Barcelona, which unfortunately was a bit of a disappointment. I guess for one, a little bit of sea food isn’t that impressive, coming from the Maritimes. Also, rice in Canada has a reputation as a poor man’s meal, and as a student I’ve been eating a lot more than my share of it over the past couple of years, so the Spanish delicacy to me kind of just looked like a left-over sea food meal on rice. Anyway, overall the food in Barcelona was amazing, and there are probably a million other things besides Paella you could eat there.
The next day we went to Montserrat early in the morning to spend the day there. It’s a lot bigger and more developed than I thought it was, it’s really like a whole little town way up on the mountain. No idea how they got everything up there! The main thing to see is the monastery, which has been there in some form or another since 888. It still blows my mind how old civilisation is, and how young Canada is. The rest of the little town was cute too, with a small museum and little movie they show you about the history of the mountain and the monastery. The cafeteria lunch we had was by far the worst meal on the trip, but what can you expect?
One of the best restaurants we tried was a little pincho bar in the newer part of the city. You could pick out your own little bite-sized plates at the bar, or order hot ones from the menu. The first time we went there we just had a quick meal of cold pinchos. Everything was delicious, but watching them carry out and serve all the hot tapas was painful, so we had to go back and try it out properly. The second time we ordered a little bit of everything, and tried a lot of the hot plates which were amazing. Nothing at the restaurant was bad, except maybe the service from one of the waitresses! That’s definitely no reason to pass this place up, though. The night we ordered the hot food was probably one of the best meals we had the whole trip.
We had a great time in Barcelona, although it was definitely rushed. It would have been great to have had more time to just relax at the beach and in the city. You could easily spend a week here trying all the different tapas and pinchos and shopping in the older parts of the city. Spain is definitely still my favourite country, and Barcelona is one amazing city.