Barcelona is an amazing city. The weather is perfect, the locals are friendly, the shopping is great, and of course, I like the fact that people here love dining till late.
Whenever I go to a city that I really like, I always find myself envisioning a future staying there. After spending the first day in the capital of Catalonia, I told myself: “I could live in Barcelona!”
It has always been my dream to visit Spain, and eat Spanish tapas while bar-hopping. I managed to go to some of the eating spots that a few readers recommended when I mentioned on twitter that I was heading to Barcelona.
For the first two days, we mostly ate at the (touristy) restaurants along La Rambla as we were staying in the area at Hotel Espana. That’s so wrong. I know I know. But luckily for the next three days, we ate pretty well, and some of the tapas restaurants were spectacular.
A local told us that Paco Meralgo (c/ Muntaner 171. 08036 Barcelona, Spain Tel: 93 430 90 27 Metro: Hospital Clinic) was a place worth trying, and after getting her assurance that it wasn’t a tourist trap, we managed to navigate our way there.
They serve a huge variety of tapas ranging from a simple Chicken and Ham Croquette (€1.35/piece) to Fresh Anchovies in batter (€5.35), Patatas Bravas (€3.8), and Deep Fried Baby Squid (€11.55).
Throughout the trip, I’ve tried Paella from different restaurants, but sadly, I didn’t manage to find a good one. Or maybe it is because we were simply too used to the localised version of Paella that we have in Singapore. The hunt for the best Paella continues. Maybe a trip to Valencia (the home town of Paella) next year?
In between meals, we went to the most famous tourist attraction in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia – a large Roman Catholic church which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
Words failed me as I came out from the Metro and saw the Sagrada Familia. It was one of those scenes where time stood still, and you could only stop and stare in awe. “Oh my god. I’m standing in front of the Sagrada Familia. Oh my god. This is something that you only get to see on TV.” *pinch cheek*
And the same thing happened here.
Another tapas restaurant you should go is Ciutat Comtal (Rambla de Cataluña 123, 08008 Barcelona, Spain Tel: 934 156 020 Metro: Diagonal.)
The menu is divided into several categories: Salad (€3-7), Flautas (€4-7), and Tapas (€4-10). A plate of Assorted Tapas (€15.65) came with prawns, clams, green pepper, fried small fishes, and potato croquette. In addition to the platter, we also had Baby Squids done in Andaluz style, which was excellent with beer.
While wandering around, we walked right into a peaceful street protest.
As I’ve mentioned, we stayed in La Rambla – a very popular tree-lined street in central Barcelona – and I really liked the area. (Other than the fact that it’s very touristy.) There were many adjoining streets, and it was really fun to walk randomly into one; it felt as though we were exploring a huge maze, and you never know where you’re going till you get there.
Just a stop away from La Rambla is Passeig de Gracia – a major avenue which is one of the main shopping district in Barcelona. Here, you can find the high-end designer boutiques and restaurants.
Tapas 24 (269 C/ Diputació, 08007 Barcelona, Spain Tel: 934 880 977 Metro: Passeig de Gràcia) was highly recommended and I immediately fell in love with the place when I stepped in. It was modern, unpretentious, and informal; just the kind of place that I’d open if I were ever crazy enough to set up a restaurant one day.
Unfortunately, the food that we had at Tapas 24 was not fantastic. Maybe the chefs had a bad day, maybe we had unreasonably high expectations, or maybe we just ordered the wrong dishes; the food wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. That said, I can still see myself going back for a meal to try the other tapas when I’m in Barcelona next time.
Spanish Tomato Bread – toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and ripe tomato, then drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt – is something that’s eaten all over Spain.
Among the tapas places that we went to, Cerveceria Catalana (236 C/ Mallorca, Barcelona Tel: 932 16 03 68 Metro: Passeig de Gràcia) stood out for serving good tapas at reasonable prices. It was the best meal that we had in Barcelona.
I’ll go so far as to say it’s a must-try restaurant in Barcelona. Reservations are required, if not be prepared to wait for at least half an hour.
Churros with hot chocolate.
I was so goddamn happy in Barcelona; we were practically high on wine and sangria everyday, and needless to say, we ate a lot. After each meal, we would go shopping at places like Zara, H&M, Pull & Bear, Mango, and Stradivarius. And after digesting our previous meal, we would grab gelato and waffles by the roadside. Then we would continue to shop and make friends with our credit cards.
Shopping, eating, drinking, sightseeing, eating shopping, eating, drinking, and more drinking.
Getting to city from airport: The main airport is about 17 km south-west of the Barcelona city centre (Plaça Catalunya). It takes about half an hour to go by bus A1 (from terminal 1), or A2 (from terminal 2). The price of round ticket is approximately €9. (I’d suggest taking the bus. Among the different cities I went to, Barcelona had the most convenient public transport from airport to city.)
Travelling Tips: Barcelona is known as the pickpocket capital of the world, so make sure to look after your belongings closely.
Where to stay: 4 star Hotels at La Rambla start at about €80 a night.
If you are craving for Spanish Food, read my guide to Spanish Restaurants in Singapore