Christina writes and edits Travelling Companion. Her writing covers expeditions, food, and culture for the blog.
Trip Overview: European Adventures 2018
Flight Review: American Airlines A330-300 Economy CLT-LHR
Hotel Review: London Marriott Regent's Park
Food in London
Flight Review: British Airways A319 Economy LGW-BCN
Hotel Review: AC Hotel Irla Barcelona
Train Review: Renfe Clase Turista Barcelona-Valencia
Exploring Life in Valencia
Exploring Life in Barcelona
Flight Review: American Airlines 777-200 Economy BCN-JFK
Flight Review: American Airlines A321T Business Class Seats JFK-DCA
Back in Barcelona we had more misses with the meals. I think it was partly our fault for not doing research before heading to Barcelona. I assumed the food experience would generally be an easy win, but we had a few let downs. Also, food is much more expensive in Barcelona than in London. Our first night we went to a restaurant called 4Latas. We ordered some wine with a few appetizers. Nothing was memorable from our meal but the service was friendly.
After visiting La Sagrada Familia, we stoped at Bodega Monumental. Our game plan was to move further away from the tourist traps near La Sagrada Familia, and find something quiet and authentic. The restaurant was cute and quaint. It looked promising from the outside and we entered excited. We had the table red wine, which was served chilled, some chips that reminded me of chicarones, a Barcelona bomb (a bread shaped into a circle and stuffed with meat and drowned in a tomato sauce), mini toast with butter, mediocre calamari, raw salmon slices, and Ramon had separately a plate with raw ham, potatoes and eggs.
Nothing was really of note, and at best it was C grade. Ramon liked his plate of eggs and ham, but I was bored with it. One piece of advice is that almost everywhere in Europe, tips aren’t needed or expected, and that was the case in Barcelona.
One of the food related things that Barcelona had going for it was lovely cafes around every corner. While I purchased cellular internet access though AT&T, it rarely worked. If we needed to grab tickets, or find our way around the city with Google Maps, we would duck in a cafe, grab a delicious coffee, and connect to their WiFi. It worked really well, and we were able to people watch. I would recommend that you forgo buying a data plan in Barcelona and instead enjoy the cafe experience.
Our favorite dining experience in Barcelona was at Medio o Pinto. This restaurant was right across the street from our hotel. We were exhausted after walking 11 Miles in the city (most of it up hill) and decided to give this place a shot. We came in around 7:30 pm and it was dead. Most Spaniards eat dinner closer to 9:30pm, so we expected an empty restaurant.
Then we had mini maiz pancake, with Venezuelan cheese. This was so simple and the favors were unique. Additional mini corn made pancakes came out as a kind gesture from the chef. One was topped with shrimp and another topped with carne. I don't know how the carne tasted because Ramon ate it with such gusto that I couldn't sample it. The shrimp mini maiz was great. The flavor of the corn balanced well with the salty-sweet taste of fresh shrimp that tasted like it was caught three hours before our meal.
For the main course, Ramon had leg of beef topped with sweet mole. No knife was needed and the meat fell apart with the touch of the fork. The side dish was a sweet potato with a crisp apple. That seemed like an odd pairing at first, but with a dash of mole, my mouth was super duper happy. I was able to steal a bite of Ramon’s dish before he finished and it was A plus. I’ve never had a leg of beef where the meat was so tender and flavorful. It was soaked in slow cooked in herbs for 16 hours. And boy, did it show.
We decided to order another glass of table red, and try their dessert. Ramon ordered a desert covered in various flavors of chocolate. I had a Lost in Translation moment and ordered something with coconut. I hate coconut. Ramon was so sweet and pretend that he liked the coconut dessert so I could eat his chocolate dessert. However, Ramon did not finish it and the server noticed we didn’t like the coconut desert, so she sent over a new desert. The way she explained it sounded like a churro. So I asked, "Is it a churro?" She promised it was better than a churro and it was. It had a soft dough outside with Nutella inside. Medio o Pinto hit the trifecta. It had great atmosphere, great service, and great food. When we return to Barcelona we will definitely make the trek to eat there again.
While we know a lot of people who spent time in Barcelona, most of the suggestions we received were tailored to summertime fun. While it was not very cold in Barcelona, it was February and not beach season. I was a little worried we would run out of things to see and do, but that definitely was not an issue.
La Sagrada Família is arguably the best known tourist attraction in Barcelona, and rightfully so. While it was very impressive and spiritual, it is not the typical European church. The architecture is breathtaking, especially from the inside. The gospel story was delivered though light and glass. I found it moving and profound, something I did not get visiting other churches.
We bought a special ticket which allowed us to climb a tower of the church. This gave us breathtaking views of the city, and allowed us to see how large this city truly is. However, I would stay on ground level if you have a fear of heights. Ramon and I spent over three hours enjoying the church.
The person you will learn the most about in Barcelona is Gaudi. Gaudi this, Gaudi that. Gaudi is the architect of La Sagrada Família, and a legend in Catalonia, the region in Spain which includes Barcelona. If you are really into architecture, you can spend a week visiting every single building that Gaudi touched. If you are like me and my travelling companion, and just want to get enough of a feel to understand the hype, then you should visit Park Güell . This is a lovely park, with a whimsical touch. The house where Gaudi lived is within this park, along with additional buildings he designed. After going through the park, it was easy to spot Gaudi’s work while walking throughout Barcelona.
Ramon especially loved the Barcelona Museum of History and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city. We could easily spend another five days and still have more things to see and do.
Both Barcelona and Valencia pride themselves on their distinct culture and language. In Barcelona, speaking Catalan is king, English second, and further down is Spanish. We would find the Catalan flag everywhere along with protests and political art. There was a fever in the air to succeed from Spain. While we both have an elementary grasp of the Spanish language, it was not the best place to practice our skill. Also, we walked everywhere. There is a metro and bus option, but Ramon and I love to walk because you get to see a city in a much more intimate way, and make your self open to letting the life within the city surprise you. We walked between 10-12 miles a day, which allowed us to eat our meals without any hesitation. Barcelona is a wonderful city. I hope to try it again in summertime.