Saturday, June 1, 2013

Barcelona!


Barcelona is just so lovely that it’s hard not to exclaim it. Ah, Barcelona!!

A last minute trip to Europe is not something I normally do. I would have happily spent 8 months planning this trip, but I’m sort of happy I didn’t. I’ve never taken a last minute trip like this before, but it gave me a great sense of freedom to just let life happen without planning. No pressure to see everything or visit sites or have the *best* time, and in the end, we did have the *BEST* time. One of the exciting parts of this trip for me was visiting places I’ve been before but with a whole new approach. As with most things in life, Andrew and I travel pretty differently when we’re not with each other, but we’ve found a style that works for us – the meghandrew approach to traveling is so fun for us! Lots of slow strolling (this has taken some time for me to get used to…), stopping in cafés, dog watching (some people like people watching, but we really prefer dog watching), smiling and eating. Oh, the eating!

While I didn’t do a lot of research or planning on things like where to stay or what to visit before we went, I did spend several hours researching food – mostly for our time in Paris – so these recaps are going to be food-heavy (although not too photo heavy on the food front because we were enjoying eating so much that we didn't take many photos). I had a great time pouring over all of the research and blogs and mapping out all of our options before deciding. We only had three dinners in each city, and I wanted them to count. I’m happy to report that it was the best eating I’ve ever done in Barcelona and Paris!

Here are my favorites from Barcelona:

We didn't have any traditional sit down meals in Barcelona. Instead we opted for a Zabar's-style tour around the city eating lots of bread, cheese and charcuterie. It was awesome!


Bar del Pi – After a long nap upon arriving, we set out for our first round of tapas for the evening. We stopped at Bar del Pi on a charming little plaza and sat upstairs. We had the cutest waiter who picked out a nice red wine for me and a local beer for Andrew. We ordered the Catalan charcuterie plate – in a moment of pre-meghandrew traveling habits, I picked this over the Iberian charcuterie plate because it was a few euros less expensive, and as we found out later when we did try the Iberian charcuterie, less good too – always go with the Iberian! We also had some assorted fritters, a cheese plate and tomato bread. This was the first of many Zabar’s-inspired stops during our time in Barcelona. It really was heaven for us – bread, cheese and charcuterie!

Tomato Bread - so simple but so flippin' good!

The first and best patatas bravas we had in Barcelona. At Paco Meralgo.

Paco Meralgo – We were pretty tired our first evening so we wandered around some, stopping in for drinks and resting at lots of little cafes, before making a short trek to Paco Meralga. I had read about this place on Anna’s blog, and I knew we’d be in for a treat. We arrived around 9:30 on a Saturday night without a reservation and were seated right away, but by 10:30 people were waiting for tables. We ordered cava and a bunch of tapas, including cod fritters, the Iberian charcuterie plate, patatas bravas, baby squid in caramelized onions, zucchini flowers, and some others that I’m not remembering. Everything was fantastic.

Iberian ham, charcuterie and tomato bread. Heaven! Just seeing this photo makes my mouth water.

Xaloc – This place is just around the corner from Bar del Pi and is was our favorite spot for eating Iberian ham and drinking red wine on our lazy afternoons. It was a cute little place that claims to have the best ham in the world – I believe them. The Iberian ham is almost like eating a really good parmesan with those little crystals of flavor. It was perfect!

La Bodegueta – This place is near Casa Batlló and Casa Milá and they have outdoor seating across the street, but we settled into the bustling little, below street level bodega and were pleased we did. We were surrounded by Spanish business folks working out deals and remarked how nice it would be to live someplace where it is perfectly acceptable to hang out drinking coffee at 10:30 on a Monday morning. We had excellent Iberian ham sandwiches and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Fruit at La Boqueria.
I like to photograph ristras from around the world...


La Boqueria - This place is a little touristy, but we had fun wandering around scheming how to get a leg of Iberian ham home with us and looking at all of the interesting foods. I always like visiting food markets when I'm traveling abroad. We were in kind of a hurry before we had to head to the airport so we just had fruit juices.

We also did a little sight seeing. We took the tram to Montjuïc and visited the lovely Miró Museum. I swooned for a good hour in the Casa Batlló. We spent a lot of time wandering around the gothic quarter, getting lost and stopping for tapas. And of course, a trip to Barcelona isn’t complete for me without strolling around Parc Güell.

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