When I went to Barcelona in March 2010 it was pre-blogging days, and so I never wrote about the lovely experience of this gem in Catalonia. Then recently I had the chance to work with the Catalunya tourist board – they were offering bottles of Catalonian wine to bloggers who had visited the area and wanted to blog about their experience … with the idea being that the wine would help remind them of their great holiday!
Well, it worked. Whilst Andrew and I quaffed the (very decent) wine, we reminisced about our holiday. If you haven’t been to Barcelona then I recommend it – it’s perfect for a long weekend break. You can get there in just a few hours and there are plenty of great hotels to choose from. We booked our trip via Lastminute.com and as I recall got a very good deal at this H10 hotel. As this was five years ago (eeek, where does time go?), I’d suggest you do your research before booking it, but at the time the hotel was in a great location (guess that hasn’t changed), had a lovely rooftop bar, clean rooms and a really fantastic breakfast where you could help yourself to bubbly each morning as well (although we didn’t, as we were always too hungover!).
As a weekend break for a foodie, you can’t really get much better than Barcelona, but there’s more to the city than just the food (which I will come back to). You have the city, the beach (although it was too windy for us to sunbathe or swim – we did get burnt as we meandered around town though), and the art – most notably the works of Gaudi. We didn’t get to go inside his famously unfinished church Sagrada Familia as it was Palm Sunday when we visited and apparently that’s a really big deal in a Catholic city!
But oh the food. That’s what I really go anywhere for, and I wasn’t disappointed in Barcelona. I had the chance to try many Catalonian classics, broadening my knowledge of Spanish tapas which had previously been limited to tortilla (one of my most favourite things ever!), patatas bravas and sardines. Not that they don’t have those tapas in Barcelona, but there’s also so much more.
I can still remember the taste of the local classic – pan con tomate. Simply bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, it’s unbelievably delicious. And I don’t even like raw tomatoes! The first time I was served it I expected to hate it and after my first mouthful literally could not stop eating the stuff. I haven’t been able to replicate it properly since I have been back, so if you have an authentic recipe then please do share!
La Boqueria is a famous food market in Barcelona which – as you can see from the photos – I absolutely loved. The colours, the smells, the freshness of the produce – it all sang of the Mediterranean. Deliciously fresh fruit and vegetables, aged jamon, slabs of turon … the place of foodie dreams, for sure.
But my absolute favourite part of the trip was my evening at Inopia. Sadly now closed, Inopia was run by the brother of famous El Bulli owner Ferran Adria, Albert (he was in fact the pastry chef at El Bulli). I was desperate to go there and queued outside for nearly an hour for a space at the bar (I must say, this place definitely had a door policy which favoured the pretty people, which was quite annoying). Once I was in, I was impressed by the food, the ambience, the prices and the whole experience. It’s a shame it has closed (as has El Bulli now), but don’t worry – there are plenty of amazing places to eat in Barcelona so you won’t go hungry.
Anchovy and tomato on toast, crab on toast:
Spanish cured meats:
Chicken ‘chupa chup’:
One point to remember in Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain in general – don’t forget you are on Spanish hours here: we went out clubbing one night and arrived at a club at midnight – it was still dead until around 2am, by which time we were already flagging! Be prepared to eat your dinner at 11pm and your lunch at 2 or 3pm. Go to bed late and rise late. It’s a bit difficult to get into the swing of things if you are only there for a weekend!
So there’s a few reminisces about my wonderful trip to Barcelona – have you been there, or to anywhere in Catalonia? If so, what are your tips? Next time I hope the tourist board will send me some Cava, the Catalonian equivalent of champagne. I am sure that would help me remember even more of my trip ;).