Saturday, 30 August 2014

photography | barcelona - day two

Our second day in Barcelona started with us sleeping too late because we both forgot to set an alarm the night before. To be honest, I didn't really mind because I had almost no sleep the night before we left, and after a long day I needed it. Let's be honest, being 40 is not at all like being 20! LOL!

Park Guell
Our plan for the day was to cram in a bunch of touristy things, and we did, starting with Park Guell. We entered the park from the back (at Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya), at the top of the hill it's on, and then walked through to the monumental area where Gaudi's famous moasic benches are. The view over the town and park from up there was quite lovely.

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This photo might not be the best ever, but I had to include it as it shows how big Sagrada Familia is, and how much it dominates the surrounding landscape. It's not even finished!

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The area around the benches and the museum was filled with people, and we decided to not enter the paid area. That might have meant we missed out, but it was hot and being around all the people was starting to get to me. We just got a few shots, and decided to start heading towards the next big thing.

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The streets surrounding Park Guell were quite nice with a very different look and feel than downtown.

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On our way to our next stop I had my first, and I hope only, big panic attack as we were heading down the steps to the metro. It was absolutely horrible and meant we had to adjust our plans a little bit. First, I needed rest. Then I needed food. After that I needed to avoid stress.

The restaurant we had planned on eating at (La Taverna del Clinic) was closed for holiday so we walked around for a while and found a small place near Sagrada Familia (but far enough away to not be a super super touristy place - there were lots of local looking people there when we arrived) to have lunch at called El Bon Menjar. Again, we had to wait a while for a table, but we sucked it up. The food was good, I thought the potato tortilla was the best I've tasted, and our server was very friendly and forthcoming. We had a funny and interesting coversation with my bad Spanish and his bad English, which resulted in him offering the husband a second glass of wine on the house. I didn't take any pictures here, apart from one with my phone and it sucks, so you are just going to have to take my word for it that it was a cute little rustic place.

Sagrada Familia
After getting some much needed downtime and chance to rest, we hit the crowds again when we walked over to Sagrada Familia.We decided right away that no way would I be able to stand in line for hours or squeeze around in the church so what we did was spend time looking at all the amazing details of the façade before moving on.

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We went over to La Pedrera after this, but the whole exterior was covered for some kind of renovation or construction. We were very disappointed - this was the thing I had looked forward to the most before arriving, and after seeing yet another long line of tourists waiting to go in, we decided to spend the 16,50 Euro (per person) on something else.

We walked along Passeig de Gràcia on our way back downtown, and it was a much calmer experience. I guess this had a bit to do with the fact that the shops on this street is much fancier than the ones around La Rambla. The houses lining the streets were beautiful though, and so was the pattern covering the pavements.

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We spent a good amount of time sitting outside the Bulgari store (we were resting our tired feet). Not one person went in during that time. Nobody came out either.

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Bar Lobo
After returning to the hotel, taking a power nap and a shower, we watched the sunset on the hotel rooftop bar with some drinks. It was magical. I wish the photos could convey it.

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We had dinner at Bar Lobo, sitting outside watching the night life on the street. We were lucky and got a table as soon as we walked up. First time on the trip, LOL! I had read it was a popular place with the young, cosmopolitan crowd, and didn't really expect the food to be the thing worth remembering. Oh boy, was I wrong. The Tuna Tataki and the fried eggplant with honey? Best dishes I've had in a long, long time.

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(Please excuse, these food shots were taken with my phone camera)
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We ended the night with some more magical moments on the roof of the hotel. A good ending to a long and hard day. I love how the lights from Tibidabo (at the top of the first photo) and the Palau Nacional (the palace with the blue beam in the second photo) shines in the dark.

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Did you miss my post on our first day in Barcelona? You can check it out here!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

photography | barcelona - day one

We spent four days (well, three and a half really) in Barcelona just a couple of weeks ago. It was a few intense days with lots of walking, lots of picture taking, and lots of swearing over tourists. There was also good food and sangria. I thought I'd share the photos from our trip over the course of a few posts. Brace yourselves, there are a lot!

La Boqueria
We landed at the airport around 10.30 and got to the city about an hour later (taking the shuttle bus is super easy and quick). We knew that our hotel room wasn't going to be ready so we decided to go for lunch, and landed at La Boqueria. This place is like heaven and hell at the same time. It's an amazing market with all the food a person would ever want to eat. It is also shock full of people. Like tin of sardines full. It stressed me out!

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It was very difficult to take photographs in there with so many people in all the aisles, and I only managed a few. The stall with the jamon (ham) was amazing. We joked that we should get one of each and jam them into our suitcases.

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We decided on a fish place called Kiosko Universal inside the market, mostly because there was a long line of locals waiting to be seated. We figured that if the locals want to brave the crowds to eat there, it has to be good. We had to wait for 20 minutes for a seat at the bar, but man was it worth it. Our server, who we think was the owner, was a bit surly but we both had the best squid we've ever eaten.

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It was just a tiny place, with bar seating all around the sides, but they worked very efficiently, and it was a treat to sit there and watch them cook. It was equally interesting to see some of the other patrons stuff their face with dish after dish.

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On our way back out of the snake pit, we found a corner of the market that was much calmer and I fell in love with the way the sunlight fell across the floor.

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El Raval
We made our way through El Raval to check into the hotel. We had been warned that this was a bad part of the city, and to watch ourselves. I found it to be shabby and dirty, but charming and full of normal life. It has a very eclectic population; from skateboarders, to hippy artists, to muslim immigrants. The streets are lined with little cafes and shops selling everything from handmade jewellery and crafts to burkas to fruit to washing machines. I liked it a whole lot better than the parts full of tourists.

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Our hotel, Barcelo Raval, was anything but shabby and dirty. Brand new, and very chic when it comes to decor. We had a very comfortable room but our favourite part was the 360 degree roof top bar. We spent a lot of time there on afternoons and late nights, and I loved the quiet, and the gorgous views of the city (more photos from there will come).

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We spent the afternoon at the harbour, having drinks (including sangria) and doing a little shopping at a shopping centre. It was nice and relaxing, and who doesn't love shopping? I was happy to see that they had Bershka in Spain, which we don't have here in Sweden.

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Barri Gotic
We spent the evening walking around Barri Gotic, enjoying the beautiful (but shabby) old buildings. Since we got there after the main tourist buses had left town, it was quite lovely, including seeing parts of the Roman walls, and listening to an opera singer by the cathedral.

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We had drinks at L'Antiquari in Placa del Rei, sitting outside on the square, doing some people watching. That square is really small and surrounded by the oldest medeival buildings in town. We both loved it.

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We had dinner in El Born, which is less shabby and more hipster, at Sagardi restaurant. It's a place that has Katalan tapas and Basque pintxos. They are very popular, and take no reservations, and again we had to wait for a table. The food is served along the bar that snails through the length of the restaurant and you simply take what strikes your fancy. Everything is served on/with a toothpick and once you're finished the waiter counts the toothpicks to figure out how much to pay. With me being on a restricted diet and all, I mostly had serrano but the husband was very happy.
(I am sorry for the lower quality of these photos; they were taken with my mobile phone)

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If you want to see more of our trip to Barcelona, you can do so here:
Day two