I saw Kainat when I went to Ottawa on Victoria Day long weekend (Rue – don’t be mad. I promise I’ll be back. 2 days 1 night in that city definitely wasn’t enough!). We were meeting over a quick brunch of crepes and fruit smoothies at Pure Power Juice Bar in Byward Market when she broke the news that she will be going to Spain for a conference. More specifically, she will be spending some time in Barcelona and will be in Madrid for the Euro Cup Final (here is to hoping Spain makes it to the final *fingers crossed*) Are you jealous yet? I CERTAINLY AM!
So, to the girl who introduced me to Xabi Alonso – this is for you!
Eating has always been considered synonymous with traveling. Whenever I travel to a new place, I always make it a priority to research its local delicacies. I am not the most adventurous eater – I’m one of those people who ALWAYS order the same thing from the same place, case in point: every time I go to Pho Hung on Spadina, I always get chicken vermicelli (17A, or is it 19A?); don’t even try to change my mind. It is my theory that the thrill of ordering something new doesn’t compare with the comfort you get from the old favourites. Does anyone else agree with me on this? Plus, every time I do try something new, I never ended up liking it. However, all this changes when I’m in a new place. As long as it’s not too bizarre (like eating a monkey’s brain or a piece of rotten shark meat), I make sure to always try the local food.
EASY! Just head to a local bakery, randomly choose a pastry (Spanish almond croissants are HEAVENLY!), order a cappuccino, plop down on one of their window seats, and start people watching. If you are doing this on a weekday, you will get a glimpse of daily Catalan life – throngs of children going to school, men in suits(!) coming in to grab a bite and gulp down a shot of espresso, grandfathers animatedly chatting with each other. I guarantee you will be thoroughly amused and satisfied.
As you are walking down La Rambla towards the direction of the waterfront, you will pass by La Boqueria on the right-hand side, across from Liceu Metro Station. Being one of Barcelona’s major attractions, La Boqueira is a traditional market offering a variety of fruits, vegetables, spices, hams, and other random things (mushrooms, anyone?). I would compare it to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, but La Boqueira is a lot more intriguing and fun! So head inside and buy yourself a cup of mixed-fruit smoothie – hint: don’t buy one from the first stall you see, head to the back or to the sides where the smoothies are cheaper!
In terms of value, lunch is the cheapest meal of the day and gives the most bang for your buck (Euro?) since many restaurants offer a multi-course lunch for under 10€. Plus, meals are usually accompanied with a glass of wine. If you want a different option, head to a bar and choose from a selection of tapas (you MUST get the patatas bravas). We went into a place on Calle de la Portaferrissaa, it’s in one of the alleys surrounding the main street. I realize that description there was as useless as a description could be, but really, just stroll through the district and eat at a place that looks good. If I’m not mistaken, it was 10€ for a selection of 3 tapas. It doesn’t seem like a lot at first glance, but it was surprisingly filling and delicious!
TAPAS + PAELLA + SANGRIA. My life is complete. Most places offer a set menu, which usually includes a selection of tapas, a pan of paella (choose seafood!), and a jug of sangria.
If you are stuffed after, which you will undeniably be, and is up for a post-dinner stroll, take the Metro and head over to Plaça Espanya to see the Magic Fountain in Montjuïc Park. When we were there, they (the water) danced to the theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean. I almost died from excitement
So, internet, what do you think ?Anything else I’m missing?
P.s. I realize it’s a sin to write about Barcelona without mentioning Gaudi. No worries – it’s coming!