I've always wanted to go to Bareclona. My longing started in my art student days when I studied Gaudi and fell in love with his colourful and sensual buildings. Years went by and I never fitted in a trip.
I'm pleased to say I can now tick Barcelona off my to-do list.
I visited a few weeks ago with my friend Sarah who blogs over at Maison Cupcake. We booked through Travel Supermarket (check out everything they have to offer for a trip to Barcelona) and flew in from Stansted. The trip from the airport was easy and reasonably priced on the Aerobus (which runs from both terminals, there are ticket machines beside the bus stances). It took us straight into the heart of the city in no time.
We arrived at Hotel Vueling, which looked pretty cool inside with an airline theme. Unfortunately we didn't get further than reception as they didn't have our booking, but they were very kind and helpful and we were happily upgraded to the four star Catalonia Barcelona Plaza Hotel on Plaza de España square right in the centre of Barcelona.
We enjoyed a complimentary Prosecco on the roof terrace while we waiting for our rooms. What view of the city. Just stunning.
The rooms were really swish too. Lots of storage, big wardrobe, plenty of mirrors, some nice quality toiletries in the bathroom and a stunning view across the plaza. Just don't do what I did and forget you need a European adapter. I've been going to North Cyprus for too long and forgot in other countries you need an adapter to plug in your gadgets and GHDs. Luckily Sarah came prepared and had a spare.
There was plenty of variety for breakfast, but I missed my baked beans and tattie scones.
So what did we do during our weekend in Barcelona?
We walked, we ate and we marvelled at the city coming alive at night and how it was full of families and how friendly it was.
On the Saturday morning we did the Castle Experience and learned a lot about Catalan history on the way to Montserrat Abbey. The Abbey was stunning, unfortunately the thick fog meant we missed what should have been spectacular views.
After Montserrat we headed to Oller del Mas Cellar to find out a bit more about winemaking in this ancient castle winery. We learned about the vines, production and storage, then we had a wine tasting with tapas. They asked in advance if there were any dietary requirements, so I had some veggie tapas waiting for me. We had a great morning, we packed a lot in and our guide was charming and we learned so much.
We were back in the city by 3 pm, so we took the tube to Sagrada Familia to see some Gaudi. The tube was easy to use, although Sarah was admittedly a dab hand at it. The tube in Barcelona is cheaper than buses are in Dundee and they have a special ticket that two people can share the journeys on.
A tip for visiting the Sagrada Familia. It's very busy but don't be put off, it's a must. Just queue for a ticket and you'll get a time to come back for entry, then just go for a wander or a coffee. When you step inside you'll be stunned. I just stood there with my mouth open, absolutely speechless. I took lots of photos but they don't give an idea of how vast it is, the echoing sound of the choir, the dazzling rainbow of colours or the feel of the place. You must visit!
We ate out in veggie restaurants on both nights and stumbled across vegan cafes and bakeries too, which was pretty cool.
So many veggie restaurants, so much choice!
I have a list of places I want to try next time, I've added them to the bottom of the post.
tofu and shitake mushroom patties with salad and a tahini dip. Mine worked out at about £5.50 and Sarah's was £4.20. You may noticed we enjoyed some Prosecco too.
This is a very old fashioned style of veggie restaurant. Cheap and cheerful. The food I picked looks very yellow (they don't go into for fancy flourished of herbs on top), but boy it was good. I started with a really tasty dal, then moved on to goats cheese an spinach cannelloni, which was all garlicky and moreish, then I finished with mango ice cream.
While we were eating a Catalan parade passed the restaurant. Fireworks, drummers and singing, I swear this city is alive!
The 3 courses and drink (I had apple juice) in Amaltea came to just over £10. I'm returning to this one.
On the Saturday night Sarah and I could hear music coming from the street so we headed out of the hotel and found a street festival around the corner from our hotel with stalls, music and dancing. We settled in at a table to drink and take in the atmosphere. Let's just say we didn't get to bed until 2am and everyone was still in high spirits.
I hope you enjoyed my weekend guide to Barcelona. There's so much more to do, discover and eat, but we'll leave that for my next visit, and the next...........
Do you have any great tips or restaurant recommendations
for Barcelona? If you do leave me a comment below.
Here are two veggie restaurants on my list for next time:
A vegan restaurant that has a European and Indian menu as well as juices and smoothies, salads and filled baguettes for lunchtime.
Hospital, 74, El Raval, Barcelona, 08001
Telephone: +34 934 43 90 82
Daily noon-5pm, 8pm-11.30pm
Bar restaurant serving vegan food who do a special burger every lunchtime, but have an extensive list of them and they are supposed to be amazing. They like their beers too and stock Scottish Brew Dog craft beers on tap. Apparently it has a punky attitude and cats (not real ones)!
Mon-Sat 6:30pm-11.30pm for food, but later for drinks. Closed Sunday.