In continuing my goal of traveling to one new country each month, for February, I decided on Barcelona, Spain. It was quite easy to decide to go to Barcelona since we had a friend who happened to inform me of their travel plans! When I found out, I quickly made plans to go and meet them in Barcelona.
Our trip started on Thursday, February 21st with a night time arrival into Barcelona. The transportation from the airport was quite easy to figure out. We also ran into a family who was on their way out of Barcelona. They gave us the remaining days left on their metro cards for free! It’s a good feeling when things like this happen. It’s as if the universe is telling you that this will be a great trip.
After navigating us to our B&B for the weekend and dropping off our belongings, we met up with our friends. Our accommodations happened to be only a few blocks away from theirs, so it was easy to just meet up on a random corner. Together we walked over to our dinner reservation at Bodega 1900. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get reservations for Tickets, but we figured that Bodega 1900 was worth a try since it is also owned by the same chef, Albert Adrià.
Our reservations were set for 9:30PM, but Bodega 1900 was able to seat us about an hour early. The restaurant front is nothing special, but after you walk through a tiny hallway, it feels as if you’ve entered an friendly grandma’s kitchen! The vibe is very warm and cozy.
Bodega 1900 gives you the option to order your own traditional tapas or to allow the waiter to pick them for you based off of your likes and dislikes. We ended up letting the house choose for us. Here’s a little gallery view of all the dishes that we got. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of seafood and olive oil involved!!
The food was simple and classic, but well executed. Also, the price is fairly reasonable. I believe we paid about $80 USD per person, including 2 alcoholic beverages not shown in the gallery.
After dinner, Erick and I decided to walk home. We were so full from dinner! And we figured that it would be a nice way to see some of the city since we just arrived.
Barcelona was nothing like what I had expected it to be. In my mind, I had imagined an entire city full of strange and interesting Gaudi architecture. Instead, what I found was a city that at times, made me feel like I was back in the US. Some of the architecture and streets really reminded me of NYC!
The slightly annoying thing about the Barcelona city blocks, is that instead of being perfect squares, there are these angled corners. When you walk down many blocks, you’re constantly weaving in and out. The only good thing about it is that it makes it very easy to cross the street on red since you can easily see the cars coming around the corner!
On our walk back, we happened to stumble by Fabrica Moritz Barcelona brewery. Even though we were exhausted, we decided why not, let’s go in and have a beer! We shared a flight.
The next day, we woke up early and waited for our B&B’s complimentary breakfast to start. Breakfast started at 8:30AM, a lot later than I’m accustomed to. We quickly garbled down our breakfast and headed out to meet our friends.
Today we were heading out for a day trip to Montserrat. We weren’t quick enough, so we missed the hourly train that runs out to the monastery. To help kill a little time, we grabbed some more coffee and food for the day from a local cafe.
The actual commute over to Montserrat felt long. We sat on a crowded metro for about an hour (can’t complain since we got seats, others were less fortunate). After the metro, we transferred to a 15 minute gondola ride (minus all the wait time in line to get onto the gondola!!).
Arriving at the top around the monastery, there are definitely some great views to be had.
The internet tends to have a lot of magical looking photos of Montserrat that makes you think this is some amazing place hidden away up in the mountains, but it’s not all that magical.
Near the monastery is also the once famed Stairway to Heaven. It’s been since permanently gated off due to people climbing the sculpture to take a photo.
Personally, I prefer the hikes around Montserrat than the monastery itself. There are several funiculars that you can take further up if you don’t feel like hiking however. We ended up taking the funicular down the last portion of our hike.
The hike that we chose to do was the one to Sant Jeroni. It’s about a 3 hour hike, and can be completed via a loop. Here we are at the top of Sant Jeroni!
Overall, I felt that the trip to Montserrat was a good contrast to the city of Barcelona. I wouldn’t kick myself in the butt if I couldn’t squeeze it into a Barcelona itinerary, but it’s worth the trip if you have some time. We spent about 6 hours in total at Montserrat (not including the commute). I imagine if you have less time, you can do Montserrat in less than 2 hours. Not bad.
After our day trip, Erick and I went directly over to our dinner reservations at Dos Palillos, an Asian fusion restaurant. Boy were we in for a treat. I highly recommend trying out this restaurant!
The part of the restaurant that we sat at was bar style. It ran around the open kitchen in a small U-shape, fitting roughly 20 people total. For the menu, you have a choice of either the traditional set or their new age set. We went with the new set (which is a longer menu course, but also comes with some traditional-ish dishes here and there).
I appreciated the creativity and artistry in each dish. There was a common theme of either replacing a key ingredient within a traditional dish with something that looked very similar or thoughtfully juxtaposing ingredients.
We pretty much tapped out for the night after finishing this meal. We took another long stroll back to our place from the restaurant to walk off the meal and slept like babies this night.
On Saturday, we enjoyed a nice long breakfast at our B&B, and then headed out for the first time to actually go see the “sights” around Barcelona city.
From our place, we walked over to Casa Milà, an art building by Gaudi. We were too cheap and not interested enough to go inside, but we did check out the gift shop.
Next we walked down the street with the fancy shops and over to Casa Batlló (another Gaudi building). I was more interested in seeing this building than the previous one, but the outside of it was under construction and entirely covered with scaffolding.
Onward down the street we ventured, leading us to Plaça de Catalunya. This is when I saw a Buff store and bought a buff, my only Barcelona souvenir.
Eventually I got a little turned around navigating, so we decided to go rogue and just wander a bit. That’s when we wandered into an ice cream stand, yum!
Back on course, we went to the Mercado de La Boqueria, aka the indoor public market. We weren’t very hungry since we had a huge breakfast, but we decided to have some small bites and a drink anyways. The food that we got from Bar Boqueria was not good, don’t go there!!!
Not finishing our food (because it sucked), we paid and left. Nearby the market place is the Gothic district. It was the same area that we had been for dinner the night before. However, the vibe in the day time was very different and all of the shops were open! I found window shopping around this area to be entertaining and unique in comparison to all the copy cutter stores you find nowadays.
To take a break, we grabbed some coffee from Venus Delicatessen Barcelona. There was a really good chocolate cake that I had there as well.
From the cafe, we continued trekking on for a while through the city. At this point, I could feel Erick’s interest weining and his tiredness increasing. It’s usually around this time that he gets a bit moody, so I tried my best to find ways to cheer him up.
We sat more frequently and got him more ice cream. I think that worked. Eventually, we found ourselves sitting in different parts of the Ciutadella Park, first starting at the end near the Arc de Triomf and eventually making our way towards the Zoo.
I don’t know if I’m just getting older, but I really do enjoy sitting at the park people watching.
After much sitting, and me suggesting that we get boba, Erick navigates us to a ramen shop, Ramen & Gyoza Bar. I don’t think he heard anything I said about boba…
And yes, we got the ramen AND gyoza (and beer too). The gyoza wasn’t anything special and the ramen was good, but not extraordinary. The spoon was annoying to eat with. You know what though, it hit the spot and our tummies were full. Off in a taxi we went to relax and take a break in our room.
Erick recharged after taking a nap. Meanwhile I continued to read Fire and Blood (I’ve been reading this book since the day it came out… yes, I am a slow, slow, slow reader).
Before we knew it, our appointment time to visit La Sagrada Familia had quickly approached. Our friends had advised us to book our tickets online in advanced, which turned out to be a good idea. I liked that we were able to enter through a faster line that was actually moving.
La Sagrada Familia was walking distance from where we were staying. I remember the moment when the cathedral came into view as we were walking. It really stands out and is quite impressive! And that was only looking at the outside of it!
On the inside, it was on a whole other level. I’ve never seen anything like it before. There’s just something so sci-fi and futuristic about this cathedral. Also, I love how artsy it is with all the resemblance of nature. This cathedral is my favorite that I’ve ever seen and I can’t imagine any cathedral getting any better than La Sagrada.
I would mark this cathedral as a must visit before you die kinda place. If you haven’t been, you really must go.
After much oo-ing and ah-ing, we took a slightly longer forced detour back to our room. It ended up being a nice walk. At night, our friends asked if we were interested in grabbing some drinks. We met at Negroni. If you’re looking for an excellent cocktail bar with a pretty relaxed atmosphere, check out this bar. The drinks were quality and the guy who served us really understood mixology, not like your usual bartender who just follows recipes.
Two or three drinks in, I was feeling pretty great and ready to take on the night! Instead, we found ourselves in multiple lines for food at multiple locations. Erick got a hotdog, we got some fries, some pizza, calzone… Oh jeez. Good times though. The night scene really changes and it’s fun when more locals are willing to interact with you (unlike in the daytime).
Atlast, it was time to say goodbye to our friends, Josh and Michelle. This was their last night in Barcelona. Until next time!
For us, our trip didn’t end there. We still had another full day to go! This was perhaps our most chill day out of the entire trip.
Again, we started with a nice long breakfast. Then we started the long (but scenic) walk north towards
But be careful while you are here. I saw a few people scoping around for victims to pickpocket, and also saw multiple tourists speaking with the park police on their unfortunate run ins. Keep your valuables on the inside of your jacket or in a securely protected bag straddled in front of you. One of the guys had his wallet taken from his jacket’s front zipper pocket. That’s some sneaky fingers that the thief has!
Something that I found super entertaining at the park was the game of “cat and mouse.” I know, I know, maybe it’s bad to think this is entertaining… but there’s park police that constantly walk around to keep order and to stop random vendors from selling items on the walkways. Generally, you’ll find 5-10 vendors in one area selling anything from sunglasses and jewelry, to art figurines and paintings. There’s always a look out for these vendors, to make sure that the park police isn’t coming. Once the park police gets closer, the look out notifies his buddies and they all start packing up and make a run for it. Oh, and they run alright. Into the bushes, the trees, and the steep slopes of the park. A lot of the times, they are packing up so quickly that they end up leaving a few of their goods that they are selling behind. The police end up just confiscating the item and placing it into a bag. It’s interesting because the park police is never running after the vendors, they just walk confidently and slowly over. Anyways, I was really amused by this every time I saw it in the park. It’s stressful having to try and make money this way.
Here’s a shot of the most famous area that you always see in photos from this park. We didn’t pay to go inside since it was mostly under construction. Maybe next time after they’ve finished renovating it.
For lunch we had some bomb food. This was so good, I wish I had the restaurant name!!
The rest of our day was very laxed. We mostly hung around our B&B, only going back out to get some food. This boba shop was legit! Check out Pandacha if you’re looking for some real boba. Plus the interior decor is seriously on point.
For dinner, we got more ramen. This time we went to a place called Mutenroshi Ramen. Believe it or not, but it’s actually a Dragon Ball Z themed ramen shop. We sat at the bar, which was designed to look like the outside of a shop. It’s a really cute restaurant, and you can tell that they put a lot of effort into the design. The ramen here was tastier than the other place we had during our trip. Plus I liked that there was a set menu where I could try a ton of other items and get a mini ramen bowl instead. Worth it.
This perhaps was one of the most laid back vacations I’ve had in a long while. Usually when I come back from a trip, I feel more exhausted than before it! It’s like needing a vacation from your vacation. But this time around, I came back ready to get back to work and be very productive. I guess it’s good to have these type of vacation trips, too.
Barcelona was a great city to visit and I totally recommend it. As I like to say, Barcelona ticks all of the boxes. It has great food, nightlife, and many activities/sights to see. This makes for a very well-rounded city that has something for everyone.
Anyways, if you made it this far in my post, thanks for reading!
Hopefully I’ll have time soon to start my post on my March trip that I just came back from recently. See you in the next post.