Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Little Nugget Goes to Barcelona

What do you think when he hear Barcelona? Magical? Romantic? City? Beach? Tapas? Sangria? All are true. For us, we were in need of a beach fix and we missed Spain so when Ryan Air pointed us in the direction of Girona/Barcelona - the decision was easy. Bags packed, we were ready for our next adventure. Barcelona Baby!
We arrived in an evening, greeted by the beautiful Arc de Triumph - and made our way to our hotel then immediately hit the streets. Our hotel was right near Sagrada Familia and only a few blocks from Plaza Catalunya. Our first stop was to the famous fountain on Las Ramblas which legend has it, if you drink from it - you will return one day. It's worked for me so far.

From there we strolled Las Ramblas and ended up on a tapas crawl in the Gothic area. Always a good way to spend your time on vacation, eating, drinking - with a side of besos. From Plaza Real, we made our way along the harbor to Barceloneta and ended up at Port Olympica. First night in, we've seen a lot of the city by foot and cannot wait for rest of our vacation to begin.

Day 2, we know the beach is a must. So we decided to walk Las Ramblas in the daylight, say what up to Christopher Columbus, swing into Mercat de la Boqueria, through the Gothic district, past the Barcelona Cathedral, see the Mercat St. Catarina - then to Barceloneta for la playa and a dip into the Mediterranean.

Las Ramblas
Mercat de la Boqueria
Queso snack pack for little jack

Barcelona's Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral in the Gothic area

That night we go to one of the best restaurants in Barcelona - Casa de Tapas. We are little foodies and love good dining experiences and this was one of the best we've ever had. They specialize in perfecting traditional tapas, and while it is a nice dining experience, it won't break anyone's bank. Our recommendation: Suckling pig & the beef cheek. Delish.

Avocado and Shrimpies
Beef Cheek in Secret Meat Sauce - melts in your mouth good.
Suckling Pig - Si Por Favor!
Cheese and Onion to finish off the meal
The restaurant is near Placa Espanya so after dinner, we did the touristy thing and hit the fountain show at Font Magica Montuic. Ended the night with a stroll through the Gothic district and then to bed.
Fountain Show
Plaza Espanya at Sunset
Plaza Espanya at Sunset
Day 3, can't go to Barcelona in the summer and not spend time at the beach so we split our day. We hit up Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell in the morning. Being August in Barcelona - pretty sure everyone is in line to get into Sagrada Familia, we did the ohh that's pretty - on to the next one. Parc Guell was awesome. We took the metro to the Vallcarca stop which is an awesome way to enter the park. We loved it. Very pretty with great views of the city. If only everyone else would leave so we can have it all to ourselves. From there, we have a little lunch at one of the restaurants on the beach. We are on vacation so it's nice to have a view while we enjoy a bite to eat. At sunset, we hit the rooftop of our hotel  with a view of Sagrada Familia and enjoy vino and some light treats. Ahhh the life. Tonight we had reservations at another restaurant in the Gothic area but since we had one of the best meals of lives the night before, nothing could come close. Oh well - Sangria and wine were still good and walking around with my hubby, the best!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia
Walk Up to Parc Guell

Look back from walk up to Parc Guell
View from Parc Guell
View of Sagrada Familia from top of Parc Guell

View of Sagrada Familia from hotel roof
Sunset from hotel roof - ahhh Barcelona
Day 4, we have to check out of our hotel today. Fortunately they have lockers so we are able to leave our bags there and do the most important thing of the day - pick up some of the best Iberico jamon  in the world -  from black hoof Iberian pig. Seriously - if you have not tried this stuff - you should. It is AMAZING. A few slices and you will be in heaven. We enjoyed ours at the beach with some other tasty Spanish goodies and a few Cuba libres. A great day and to top it off - we decided not to waste our last night in Spain with a bad meal so we head back to Casa de Tapas for another fine experience. When it's good, it's good.

Crab and Rice Dish to top off the day
 We top off the trip strolling through the streets till 3 am. We then grab our bags, make our way to the bus station - and head back to Poland.

Espana - how we miss you already.   

Travelers Tips: When flying on the discount airlines, always be sure to check which airport you really fly into. Often times they say the largest city near the airport, so in this case, we flew into Girona, Spain which is about an hour north of Barcelona. From there you take a bus into Barcelona.

For Barcelona, there are lots of ways to get into the city:

- Bus: We recommend the bus. It is the cheapest and easiest from the airport in Girona and it is a private company that coordinates their schedule with the Ryan Air flights so you will usually find a bus waiting for you when you there. Walk out of the airport terminal and follow the signs to Barcelona Bus. You buy your tickets at the kiosk and load the bus all right there. Single tickets are $16 Euro each or you can buy round trip for $25 - good for all the scheduled times. No need to worry about your entire flight also trying to catch the bus at the same time and fighting over seats, they have multiple buses leaving at the same time to make sure everyone has a ride. Buses are new, clean and comfortable for the short ride. They drop you off right at the Barcelona Nord (Barcelona's bus station) which is in the city center. From there you can catch the metro, public bus, taxi or walk to your final destination.

Bus Website

-Train: There is a train which runs between Girona and Barcelona but you'd have to figure out first how to get from the airport to the train station. This might be a nice option if you are interested in spending some time in Girona/Costa Brava.

- Taxi: If you are pressed for time or don't like being with random people - a taxi is always an option. From the research we found, it costs around $120 Euros so if you are with friends or family - you might not be money behind and they will drop you off at your Barcelona destination.

Not sure where to stay? Our recommendation would be to stay in the Gothic area if you are only there for a short period of time. You will be close to the tapas bars, Las Ramblas, Barcelona Cathedral and in general for all touristy things - it is very centrally located and near lots of metro stops so you can quickly get around the city. For those who love the beach, Barceloneta is not a bad option either. For those who are visiting in August like us and all the good places where booked or asking $500 euro a night - near Sagrada Familia isn't a bad option either.

Where to eat? We highly recommend Casa de Tapas - went back two times while in Barcelona. And while they were closed for holiday while we were there, Tickets is supposed to amazing and is right around the corner. They are in friendly competition with each other. Recommend reservations for both.

Not sure between Madrid and Barcelona? We hear it all the time, people's opinions, and Barcelona is no exception, some people love Barcelona and some people hate it. Our recommendation, if you have to choose between the two, Madrid is a better place to visit as a tourist but Barcelona would be one of the best places in the world to live. We love both and hope everyone can experience both and decide for themselves.

Our Two Cent Reviews: 

Barcelona:  Casa de Tapas Canota
Barcelona: Irati Taverna Basca (not impressed)
Barcelona: Ciudad Condal 
Barcelona: Hotel Aranea

No comments:

Post a Comment