As promised, here’s the second part of my post on my trip to Spain during reading week, this time covering Barcelona. It may be just one city, but a quarter of my pictures were taken there!
When we got to Barcelona it was in the evening. After checking into our hostel we set out to explore! This is one of Barcelona's main plazas (I forget the name).
Dinner the first night at Txapela! This place came highly recommended by one of Debbie's Barcelonian (?) classmates, so we knew we had to try it. One of those trays of potatoes with spicy sauce is mine (and was delicious).
More of the tapas we ordered. The ones with baby eels, foie gras with apple, crab salad, and jamon made up my dinner.
For dessert: strawberries in vinegar with vanilla cream. Surprisingly good! The sweetness and richness of the cream went really well with the tartness of the berries. Note to self however: never again order tapa sized desserts unless you order more than one!
The menu at Txapela. Sorry it's blurry! It reminded me of ordering nigiri sushi, except instead of rice, it was bread.
Breakfast day one in Barcelona. This place didn't have a menu, so we all just ordered what we wanted. Lesson learned here: never order anything before seeing a menu, otherwise they can charge you whatever they want. Paying 3 euros for a 200mL bottle of Minutemaid orange juice had me fuming.
Our first day in Barcelona ended up being at Montserrat because our tour guide for Barcelona injured himself, so we had to switch plans around. It was really foggy that day, so it was hard to see much. The words of our guide: "now, just use your imagination to see the river down there"
Even with the fog, you can tell why Montserrat has so many visitors. The rocks making up the mountain have the strangest shapes and look like sculptures.
The exterior of Montserrat's cathedral.
With our tour came a liquor tasting. We got to try a small sample of each of these liquors. The hazelnut one and the crema catulunya were soooo good.
We then went into the cathedral to listen to the boys choir sing. And I mean to listen only, the place was packed so all you could see were the backs of the people standing in front of you.
After listening for a while we decided to go line up for what Montserrat is most famous for, the Black Mary. Thousands make the pilgrimage up here each year to touch her and to pray. The lineup was massive when we got there.
Took this while I was waiting. The fog made everything feel very dramatic and mysterious, it was pretty cool actually.
Finally inside the cathedral again, the lineup moved at a snails pace through all of the rooms, most of which housed altars to various saints or featured a dying/suffering/bloodied Jesus.
I thought the Angel Gate was quite pretty. Also, note the neverending (and rarely moving) line. I guess it was good in that you had (plenty of) time to appreciate the works of art in each room.
The Staircase of the Saints. Each panel is a mosaic and was pretty interesting to analyse.
Finally, after an hour of lining up we made it! As I got closer to the sculpture of Mary I noticed that she was inside the glass, so I asked April about it. She told me that you just touched her through the glass, so I went oh, ok. So when I got there, I noticed the sphere of the universe protruding through the glass. But, in the back of my mind were April's words "oh, you just touch her through the glass", so, I put my hand to the glass. Fail. You were supposed to touch the sphere. Looks like I'm going to have to make another trip back there.
On your way out you could purchase a candle to light. We were in a mad rush to get back to our bus, which we were late for because of the long line up to touch Mary so we didn't have time to stop.
Lunchtime! We all did the "menu del dia", the set menu. I ordered the salad for my starter and it was absolutely AMAZING. I hadn't had vegetables in days, which probably also contributed to how great it tasted, but on its own it really was fantastic. Basically a garden salad but kiwi, caramelized apple, and a creamy mango dressing. Deelish!
For my main, steak with roquefort sauce (I am loving the stuff), potatoes, and cauliflower. Not bad, steak was a bit tough though despite ordering it rare.
Dessert was excellent however. The tiramisu was sooo good, and the tea I ordered came in the cutest little silver teapot.
After lunch we headed to the Picasso museum. No pictures allowed inside, so I snapped this from the outside through the window. I really enjoyed this museum, which houses tons of Picasso's earlier works, and a few of his later ones. The only thing I would complain about is the abruptness of how his works jump from the blue period to his later years in life, without any explanation of what happened in between. I think his pigeons works (on the walls in this room) were my favourite. Not too crazy, but still full of life.
Next we made our way to the flamenco show we'd bought tickets for. Here's a picture of (I think) town hall? It looked so cool lit up at night!
When we go to el de Tablao Carmen the waiter immediately began to bring us our food (we cut it pretty close to the start time of the show, most people had arrived earlier to enjoy the tapas). The bread rubbed with tomato was one of my favourite tapas in Spain. The monchego cheese was pretty good too.
Our platter of MEAT! The top layer is jamon, with the two outer rings being different types of salami. I wasn't a big fan of the salamis, but the jamon was really good (I don't think there's such a thing as bad jamon)
Calamari and more spicy potatoes - couldn't get enough of these two dishes! At the edge of the picture in the bottom left corner you can see our plate of pimentos, these little fried green peppers. At first I didn't like them, but they really grew on me.
For dessert, catalunya cream (basically creme brulee). The sangria in this place was really good, as you can tell by the almost finished jar in the background.
One of the dancers in action! This style of flamenco was very different from what we'd seen in Seville. It was much more lively and "happy" feeling, with more emphasis on the dance than the music. The flamenco in Seville felt more intimate and serious. I don't know which one I liked more!
Tablao Carmen was in the Andalusian Quarter of El Poble Espanyol up on the Montjuic mountain. The "village" was created for the 1929 world fair, which showed off the different styles of Spanish architecture.
Breakfast day 2! Here's a picture of my bikini (ham and cheese sandwich) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Delicious, and really cheap!
View of Barcelona from the top of one of the mountains... I forget which. Anyways, we were on a sightseeing tour of the city, and this is one of the first places we were brought.
Next stop: Sagrada Familia! Probably Gaudi's most famous, though unfinished, piece of architecture. The facade is just so incredible, there's so much going on I could stare at it for hours and still probably not notice all the detail.
The inside of the Sagrada Familia. What a change from all the other cathedrals I've been to! It's so light and airy and colourful inside.
The main nave.
One last look at the outside - the fruits at the tops are so cute!
Next we went to one of the markets. I felt like such a tourist snapping photos of the inside, especially since I scoff when I see tourists taking pictures of Granville Island's marketplace.
This counter sold eggs. Holy cow, I don't know what kind of bird these came from, but they were massive!
We got to sample tapas and a drink. I chose cava, Spanish champagne. It was pretty good.
More of the tomato rub bread and a fish salad.
The pimientos de padron! These things get addictive, they're so yummy!
A look at the place we had our snack at.
Next we walked through the historic area of Barcelona, inside the area originally fenced by the city walls.
The door of a roman cathedral
This place was a battle site for the Spanish Civil War. All the gouges in the walls are from bullets.
Original Roman columns, where they were built were hidden inside a small covered area between some other buildings.
The poor people's cathedral built by merchants.
Lunchtime! We went to this place called Origens, which our guide recommended to us. It served only organic and often locally sourced, sustainable food. The chandelier made from colanders was amazing!
My veal stuffed with spinach and cheese with rice. Really good!
Next was Park Gruell, designed by Gaudi.
Such an interesting place! The way he integrates his man made designs with nature is so unique.
Oh, why hello there.
A view from the terrace.
This is where Gaudi lived!
The ceiling of the columns.
The famous salamander! I had to wait forever to take this picture.
Another one of Gaudi's designs, La Pedrera. These apartments have since been converted into a museum, but there are still a few that have some lucky families living inside.
The roof of La Pedrera! Definitely the best part.
This sculpture reminds me of soft serve icecream.
The next floor down showed models of all of Gaudi's designs. Really neat.
Las Ramblas at night. THE place for souveniers, and pickpockets. We held our purses close walking down this street.
We had dinner at one of the restaurants on Las Ramblas. The tapas here were so good!
More of the tapas. The meatballs were so yummy!
For our main we shared this paella. Sooo good! We finished all of it.
We then walked until we hit water. Just over the bridge is a mall. Gorgeous views!
…and that basically sums up my time in Barcelona!