Thursday, May 10, 2018

Barcelona again and Sitges, 2018

Let me start with two lines on gratitude. Not everyone gets to travel. Not everyone gets to visit beautiful cities and definitely not everyone gets to repeatedly go to their favourite cities across the world. My travelogues are not written with the intention of romanticising travel and giving cliche, pinterest-quote-worthy-but-absolutely-stupid-in-real-life advices about dropping everything you're doing and taking expensive holidays around the world. I do, however encourage investing in experiences sometimes (whenever you can), and that could of course mean prioritising travel. When I first visited Barcelona back in 2015, I wrote a blog post here (albeit slightly over simplified) about things to do in Barcelona but even then I knew it wasn't all inclusive.
It was just the whole bunch of things we managed to cram in 4-5 days. You can read about my experience and travelogue from Barcelona here.
This time around I went to Barcelona with my husband and since we were staying with our friends who live there, we managed to live quite a non-touristy 4 days. We went to a local tapas bar (which was just as good as any other highly rated one from the internet) one night and the general quality of food in Spain just blows my mind. So instead of getting into point by point analysis because I know that tends be a little too much for everybody, I'm going to do the highlights of what I saw, wore, ate, witnessed and things you could do too.

  • I got a lot of questions on instagram about great places to stay at in Barcelona. That got me thinking that I actually did not cover that part at all in my first post. The first time around we stayed at a nice boutique hotel near Plaça de CatalunyaAs a few of you would know, that is a landmark around the city of Barcelona (also a must see) but also more importantly right in the city centre. So that is definitely a good choice for a place to stay. Having said that, this time around we were at our friends' close to the Muntaner metro station and while that is not the centre, it was such a great place to live surrounded by really interesting boutiques, a local market (or mercat as they say) and great tapas bars of course. It helps that the city is pretty well connected via the underground and even the buses.

  • great place for shopping that I also should have spoken about in my first post would have to be Passeig de GràciaThere's a long stretch of more than 100 great shops that extends over  Gràcia and has pretty much any label you can imagine (and more) housed in the most beautiful buildings with the most fairtytale-esque facades. Even a basic Adidas shop in Barcelona looks like a castle!

  • The Gothic Quarter. This was again a touristy miss for me the first time around but since I had seen more of the city than the boy, we decided to walk around and just admire the architecture in the centre of the old city. The buildings and structures in the Gothic Quarter are something else. There is the city square, a chapel and many others. The best decision that we made, however, was to go with a suggestion to grab lunch at a tiny open air tapas place (mostly the case in Europe in good weather) which was *wait-for-it* right outside a beautiful cathedral! The food didn't blow my mind but the view and the good wine more than made up for it! This was outside Santa Maria del Mar.


  • If you can rent a car (with a proper driving license/valid permit) or if you're staying with friends who own one, a drive out and about Barcelona into Cataloniya would definitely not be something you regret. One such absolutely beautiful coastal town is that of Sitges which is known for it's cute quaint alleys with seriously Mediterranean architecture and feels and a great open sea facing boulevard of cafes, boutiques and houses. Also obviously a popular port since we saw the ships dock too. The drive up hill is just as beautiful as the town itself. We got ourselves some paella, some churros and walked around unendingly. Also popular for some water sports, if that is the kind of thing you're into. Strangely enough it has beautiful weather all year round but we managed to go on the one day it rained. Sigh. Still worth it, to be honest.


  • The last bit of awesomeness we managed to pack into our trip was the carnival in Barcelona at Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia.  Again, if the cultural madness and the flea markets, the music acts, the markets turning into tapas shops for the whole night is the kind of thing that interests you, then look up the carnival calendars and book your tickets accordingly. The highlight of it all was dancing amidst the 'gigantes y cabizudos' or as we say, the giant bobble heads. The characters are all obviously of famous kings and queens and characters pertinent to the Spanish history and it's a sight to behold. There is also a far extending flea market that sells everything from jewellery, trinkets, yummy fresh empanadas, local desserts, local brews et al. When that started to shut down, we followed crowds into Mercado de la Abaceria Central (one of those beautiful markets selling all kinds of groceries housed in old beautiful building called Mercats in Spanish). To our surprise it was Tapas night in the Mercat and all the vendors were selling just the yummiest and the most diverse sort of Tapas in there. To top it off, there was a live music act making its way through the market! Again, I think it all ties into the carnival celebration so we just happened to be there at the right time thankfully. (This happened to be the 5th of May)






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