08 Jan Chef Greg Martin: My 36 Hours in Barcelona
I fall in love with Barcelona a little bit more with each visit. What is not to love? Great weather, food, shopping and the friendliest people in Europe make this sea-side city the travel destination the last couple of years.
With essentially just a long weekend to visit both Barcelona and Paris last week, I tried to get the most of my short visit. I thought I would share some of my travel highlights.
Where to stay
I think I hit the jackpot renting an apartment in the L’Example Dreta area from a former Texan now residing permanently in Barcelona https://www.vrbo.com/607999. The ideally located apartment was spacious and close to the Tetuan metro station even though we walked most of the time. I would highly recommend her place as it was in an ideal area and the owner could not have been more thoughtful. She had some much needed provisions upon our arrival and from A to Z, the apartment was very thoughtfully readied for visitor’s needs. We rented the apartment using VRBO.com this time, but have had good luck using homeaway.com as well.
After several trips to Europe I know I prefer apartments as I can cook when the mood strikes and you get a better sense of how the locals live. I like setting up a temporary home, going to local farmer’s markets and cooking breakfast or even dinner when I’m just to tired to go out after a long day of sightseeing.
Where to eat
I’ve done the required tapas crawls on previous visits, so this time I focused on finding the hidden gems I might have missed before.
By far, Tapas 24 provided the best tapas experience on our trip. Located just off of Passeig de Gracia near the metro station of the same name, this small tapas joint is popular with tourist and locals. We enjoyed the Spanish-style “tacos” as well as the ceviche, clams with white beans and a thin sandwich of jamon and manchego called the bikini. We really liked the more modern vibe of the food and the flowing cava didn’t hurt.
I detailed my visit to El Quim De La Boqueria in my video market tour and it definitely is the market eatery to visit. We enjoyed the fried eggs and jamon with potatoes and brava sauce, oxtail risotto and foie gras on mushrooms, topped with a fried egg.
After taking a wrong turn for a drink at a tourist trap, we stumbled on Restaurante BarBas near the placa de Cataluya. We decided to roll the dice and were rewarded with a very nice meal including a warm duck confit salad, chicken and frisée salad , deep-fried pork belly and tuna carpaccio all paired with a lovely sparkling rosé.
Our most traditional Spanish meal was had at El Asador Aranda. We started with jamon followed by roasted sucking pig and steak. The restaurant is know for using a wood-fired oven. We capped our meal with a nice Spanish Tempranillo and we were pleased to note that they carry three Spanish red wines that we also sell at Bistro Menil.
Sights to see
One of the things that I had not done in Barcelona was visit Montjuic Castle and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Since they are located adjacent to one another, this was the trip to view them both as we made out way up to the top of Montjuic hill. The museum was closed (of course), but I still enjoyed viewing the old military fortress dating from 1640 and the views of Barcelona. If it is a sunny day, this is great trip since you can stop by the nearby gardens, the Joan Miro Foundation or the Olympic museum and Park. You can also make your way down to ride the teleferic to the La Barceloneta neighborhood, giving you sweeping views over the city
Yet another sight I had never visited was Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Antoni Gaudi’s art nouveau period building. It was the last civil work he did and is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. Buy your tickets online and enjoy a tour beginning on roof of the building, viewing the unique chimney adornments (espanta bruixes) before heading into the building. The building’s architecture is spectacular and undoubtedly unique. Alas I did not make it to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia this time, but I get a nice view of it form the rooftop.
Where to shop
If you are someone who just needs that stuffed giraffe for your abode, do I have the shop for you. I guess I can best describe Azul-Tierra as the home goods shop for that person looking for the one-of-a-kind home item with a bottomless wallet. A beautiful store, showroom, and art gallery all rolled into one.
Ok, after a long day of sightseeing you will need a nice bottle of wine to take back to the apartment and enjoy. Vila Viniteca is the place to visit for a great selection of wine including what I picked up, a nice ’08 cava. located off of Via Laietana near the La Barcelloneta neighborhood it is one component of a cluster of shops including an upscale food market on the otherwise sleepy street. Expect excellent prices and service and great Cava selections.
After a couple of days to catch my breath, I’ve concluded that I like visiting a city where I’m left with the feeling that I didn’t see everything and need to go back again. This is certainly true for Barcelona. I hope to see it again very soon. Gracias
Places to eat
Tapas 24, Carrer de la Diputació, 269, 08007 Barcelona, Spain; www.tapas24.ca
El Quim, Mercado de La Boqueria, Les Rambles, 91, 08002 Barcelona, Spain; elquimdelaboqueria.com
Restaurante BarBas, Rambla de Catalunya, 7, 08007 Barcelona, Spain; barbas.es
El Asador de Aranda, Carrer de Londres, 94, 08036 Barcelona, Spain; asadordearanda.com
Places to visit
Montjuic Castle, Ctra. de Montjuïc, 66, 08038 Barcelona, Spain; bc.cat
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona, Spain; mac.cat
Casa Mila, Provença, 261-265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain; lapedrera.com