A little word before I get started with this recap of our trip, days one through three, I tend to be over detailed on certain things, especially when it comes to travel. Not only do I want to record my memories while they are still fresh, I also like giving as much information as I can in case you are deciding to travel to Barcelona too. I love getting travel tips from friends, especially when it comes to places to eat, so I try to do the same when I can. If the details are too much, I won't be offended if you're only scrolling through for the photos.
We travelled on Air Transat from Toronto to Barcelona. We had a stop in Montreal but didn't have to get off of the plane. The plane was great, we had our own screens with a pretty good selection of movies and tv shows (although not as good as Air Canada) and we were served a hot meal. E did pretty well on the plane. Since we left Toronto at 8:00 pm, once we got to Montreal and then taken off again, it was pretty late for him and he was tired. We had to struggle with him for a few minutes to get him to sleep, but then he did until shortly before we landed in Barcelona.
When we got through customs, we grabbed a cab into the city. I'm pretty sure the cab driver overcharged us, but whatever. As I said yesterday when we got to the apartment, we were met by the friend of the owner of the apartment and she gave us a good rundown of the area. Then we went out to grab a bite to eat at Pizza del Born which was literally around the corner from our apartment. It is a really cozy and friendly place. It was always busy whenever we walked by, with both locals and tourists.
After this, we walked around a little bit to get a feel for our neighbourhood. Later that evening we headed to Tapeo for our first taste of traditional Catalan tapas. E sat right up at the counter and tried all of the yummy food - patatas bravas, cod fritters, tempura asparagus, ham croquettes, and calamari. A simple plate of toast smeared with tomato and drizzled with olive oil was also very tasty.
The next day, Sunday, we actually slept in until noon. I had set an alarm for 8:00 and got up to shower, but I went back to bed and slept. It kind of sucks to lose half the day, but the city is slow to wake up anyway, especially since this was the weekend. We had coffee, juice and croissants at the little corner place, El Born Bar, before walking up to Place de Catalunya to catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. We have done this in London and Vancouver and have found it to be a great way to get acquainted with a city, and then get an idea of the things you want to go back and visit.
So many tourists
Very keen about checking out the map
E was getting a little antsy on the bus (he does not sit still, ever!) so we hopped off the bus and discovered the charming little park of the Jardins de la Tamarita . It was here we discovered our first of many playground scattered around the city. It was a good break from the bus and let E run around for bit.
Back on the bus with his earphones.
If only E could read. I don't know how many times we said "Sit down" or "Stay still", etc.
We hopped off the bus again to grab a coffee and switch to the other tour line (there were three in total for this tour)
We got off the bus near our apartment and headed home to rest before going out for dinner.
Snacks and drinks on our patio while E watched a show on the iPad.
For supper we went to Mosquito. They serve craft beer and asian inspired tapas, which basically has my name written all over it. We had a short wait for table, but were served quickly. Everything was so tasty.
Yet another playground
Killing time waiting for our table
The thing in front of E is a fish pancake, which is one of the best things I've ever eaten. It was so good, I need to track down a recipe for this and try my hand at it.
The next day was Monday. We ate breakfast at Bubo right next to this church, Santa Maria del Mar. This was the major landmark in El Born and we always knew where we were when we could see the church. Our server was originally from Pakistan and had family that lived in Toronto.
After breakfast we headed down to the waterfront, more specifically Port Vell to go to the Aquarium. The aquarium was pretty good, actually very similar to the one in Toronto, even with a moving walkway through the shark tank, but you can tell it is getting old, and it was smaller than the Toronto one. Still worth the visit though for E. He enjoyed this more than any art museum or church.
One of the many large statues in Barcelona
After the aquarium we walked down to Barceloneta to check out the beach. The beach is huge, and although very busy, still plenty of space for us. There are also lots of people walking around selling things - mojitos, beer, massages, hair braiding, henna tattoes, beach blankets, etc. Although they never stop walking around, they didn't really bother us, and a simple "no" or head shake was enough for them to move on. I hadn't brought my bathing suit that day but E and Dave got in the water.
There are many of these tapas places around where the bar is filled with many different pintxos (things on bread) to choose from and then you pay by the number of toothpicks on your plate at the end. Although the place we chose, Sagardi, felt very touristy, we decided to try it, we are tourists after all. Some of the pintxos were better than others but all in all it was a good experience.
While we were eating a group of young guys set up a speaker and started a dance routine (more like gymnastics/breakdancing). They were right in front of us and it looked like it was going to be good show but then the cops drove by and they had to disperse. I was disappointed. On our way home we decided to try the mojitos at the bar at the end of our street, especially since we had been told they were the best in El Born. They were pretty awesome!
More to come - Montserrat, Sagrada Familia, the Zoo, and Montjuic.