My guide to Barcelona

The much anticipated trip to Barcelona has been and gone and I now have a face like a slapped arse and major holiday blues. To add insult to (depressed) injury it’s looking highly likely that I may have put on around 3 stone from the disgustingly huge amount of pastries and paella I’ve put away over the last few days. However I will wear those extra lbs with pride as it was the best trip, best food and best company I could’ve asked for.
That Cardiff Girl I bow down to you for booking THE best birthday present a girl could ask for.

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Barcelona is now a city I’m totally and utterly in love with. Completely. It is the most beautiful place with extraordinary buildings that remind you just how amazing mankind can be. Sagrada Família and the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc are absolutely, breathtakingly stunning. Catedral De Barcelona and Casa Batlló are some more Gaudi buildings that I stood staring at with an open mouth… It wasn’t that I was trying to catch flies, I actually was mesmerised.
The Magic Fountain evening show was unbelievable. There aren’t enough words to describe how captivating the colourful, dancing water is. If anything, it is the one thing I am most pleased about doing. If you’re in the process of booking a trip PLEASE ensure you add this to your list. You’ll love me for the recommendation. Make sure you check all the information before you go though as I know they don’t run regularly in the winter and it’s an earlier show. It is just as spectacular in the daytime though so don’t fret.

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Sagrada Família is just wow. It may be a work in progress but what is finished is just remarkable. I think we just stood and stared it it’s beauty for over an hour! What I will say is, in hindsight, we wished we’d picked up some pastries from the market to have a picnic basking in the glory of the church as there’s not a lot of great places to sit/eat in the surrounding area. I found it a little too ‘touristy’ for my liking and a lot of the food on offer was fried or probably had never seen a cow. Yes I am referring to KFC and McDonalds!

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Now, it wasn’t that close to where we stayed so we got a metro over which was super simple and only cost €4.30 for a return trip. Cheap!
Their metro system was a breeze… I was slightly daunted beforehand as I was thinking of the hot, sweaty and busy experience the tubes give you in London. It was quiet, easy to navigate and got us there in super quick time. Furthermore, there was aircon in the carriages. Thank The Lord.
Casa Batlló we were lucky enough to see a few times as it wasn’t that far away from our hostel. If you want the full tour I’d probably suggest going first thing in the morning as it gets very busy, very fast. If you just want to see the beauty from the outside then you’re best bet is going in the evening when it’s dark and the lights are on… You can take better pictures and it’s not so busy.

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The bus tours are ok. I wouldn’t say they are worth the money, plus you get stuck listening the most mundane woman through your earphones. I imagine if you’re not bothered about getting off at the stops and just want a rough idea of all the buildings and to take some pictures from the top deck then it most likely is perfect for you. If it rains however, it’s not so fun. I wish we had been told this information beforehand and we would definitely have gone to them all by metro ourselves as it would’ve been cheaper.
We were lucky that our hostel was in a perfect location for the main streets, Casa Batlló, the fountain and also Catedral de Barcelona. Again, this was yet another building it would have been so easy to just sit and stare at for hours (with a sangria).

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It’s probably about time I made a well overdue start on the food isn’t it?
The first place you HAVE to go when you get to Barcelona is La Boqueria the food market just off La Rambla. Seriously. You’ll have never seen a market like this. It’s just insane! They have everything there you could possibly desire and I wanted to buy it all. Just to give you a heads up…. It’s shut on a Sunday so if you plan on having a picnic etc. just make sure you buy it the night before. Their fresh juices are delightful but I would say, don’t buy them from the first stall as they charge double the price of the ones further inside.

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We stumbled upon Cerveceria Baviera as we hadn’t had breakfast and could have eaten our own limbs! We chose a few nibbles from the bar to taste, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. We even decided to go back in the evening for some sangria and Paella but this time sat upstairs with a great view of La Rambla. Since being home, however, I’ve seen that not everyone has had an enjoyable experience at this place. In fact, most people have said to avoid it like the plague. Neither of us felt there was bad service or that it was expensive. We had 3 nibbles and a drink in the day which came to just €14 and in the evening we had some bread and oils with cheese, paella for 2 and sangria for around €25 each. The location is perfect for people watching and it’s just at the top of La Rambla so very easy to find. What I will say is… The owner is quite ‘friendly’ and was a little bit obsessed with the ladies. In fact I think he fell head over heels for Stacey.

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We visited Escribà more than once as their pastries are to die for. I had a butter croissant, an almond cream filled croissant and also a spinach and goats cheese quiche and each of them were just as delicious as the next. However, I do think the quiche was THE best quiche I’ve ever or will ever have the pleasure of eating. I am ashamed to say I’d never heard of Antoni Escribà and his pastry making skills. Now I do know of those skills I’ll be visiting again on my next trip! The photos around the wall show the amazing things he did in the business and that goes to show how brilliantly talented he was.

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The one place we had decided to look for before even arriving in BCN was Amorino. You know the place, the one that does rose ice cream? I’m so thankful to have found it as not only did it make for a good Instagram post (obligatory) it was divine. I had raspberry and pistachio. Yes… Raspberry and pistachio! You have to try this place out. There are so many flavours to choose from you could be there for an hour trying to narrow it down plus it looks so pretty.

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My favourite meal in Barcelona was eaten in Bacoa Universitat which is my new favourite burger place… Even if I won’t be able to visit as much as I’d like.

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Honestly, the place was totally up my street: the music, laid back atmosphere, an incredible choice of burgers and wine for €2. I mean, it may not be the most Spanish choice but hey, at least I can say I’ve experienced a local burger joint.

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In my defence, the burger I chose did have a Spanish twist… If anything, you could call me an honorary Spaniard. We were given the choice of white bread, wholemeal or bun-less, the burger with toppings and then a list of sides. I opted for wholemeal with the San Jacobo burger; which was pork loin stuffed with Iberico ham and cured manchego cheese, topped with caramelised onion. They also come with salad and their very own mayo!

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Obviously I went for fries as my side and by gosh am I glad… The seasoning they give you is heaven in a jar. It’s their own blend which I guess they probably hold pretty close to their chest. The sauce. Oh, that tasty sauce with a kick. If I could that entire meal right now again with the exact same seasoning I would be in my element entirely.

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It was true love.

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The price here was unbelievably cheap… Where else would you get a huge burger with fries and a white wine for €12?! I mean, come on. It’s a must-do if you’re visiting Barca!
To top off the porky goodness we then decided to have a pot of natural yoghurt which came with crushed biscuit in which was SO good and made a perfect end to the meal. It came in a little tub with a mini spoon which made it super cute and the fact it cost just €5 with another glass of wine made it taste even god damn better! I cannot rave about this place enough. I LOVED it and think you will too.

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We also swam in a huge vat of paella at Costa Gallega on Passeig de Gràcia, right in the heart of all the shops. It had a really homey vibe here and all the produce hangs from the ceiling which I always appreciate seeing. There is a bar that you can grab tapas at, a terrace at the front or a restaurant which is where we sat. We would never have found this place if I hadn’t insisted on visiting every Mango and Zara in the city!
I’m so glad we did. I was that full post paella I thought I was about to birth a gigantic mussel at any moment.

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Just to clarify, the only reason I so desperately needed to shop was due to the fact we drank a litre of sangria each on the first evening (for €5) that somehow ended up on my white jeans. Once one new outfit had been purchased I felt it necessary to buy another. Only because of the exchange rate of course.
The sangria at the hostel became an integral part of our evening. We stopped off at the bar every evening before heading out due to the fact it was dirt cheap. I mean, it would be rude not to right?

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Along with shopping for clothes we also HAD to visit Happy Pills for our dose of pick ‘n’ mix. If you’re in the area you just have to go there just for the novelty. Whoever came up with the concept is an utter genius… It’s not something I’ve ever seen before and beats a corner shop or a Candy King hands down. Everything in there is clinical looking and you get your sweets in tablet tubs, which is all part of the charm! The sweets were colour coordinated and they had everything you could possibly think of… Including sour watermelons which I now realise I didn’t get enough of. I loved the fact you choose your own stickers for the tubs which all have different messages on as it makes for a really personal gift for a friend/loved one. The only downside is that now I’ve had a taste for the sweets I feel I need a fix every single day and unfortunately I’ve already demolished the tub I bought home for myself.

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The harbour is also worth a stroll down to as the views are fabulous and if, like me, you appreciate a bit of shopping then there’s also a shopping centre called Maremagnum. This place is nothing like any other shopping centre I’ve ever been before. There is a roof terrace fit with sun loungers, free wifi and cocktail bars with picturesque views of the sea. Unlike most other tourists our own age, we stuck to virgin cocktails but we definitely wanted to appreciate sitting in a cocktail bar INSIDE a shopping centre! This place is a must if you want to vacate the hustle and bustle of La Rambla and want a little ‘inside time’.

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I apologise for the length of this post but Barcelona and I have had a whirlwind romance and I can’t help but talk and talk about it. So please make every effort to visit the city and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way that I do right now. Before going I was warned about pick pockets, prostitutes and how expensive everything is but I did not experience any of those things. Don’t let it put you off! Yes, there are areas where I could sense those things went on but if you keep your eyes open you’re fine. Just to make sure you’re as jealous as possible I’ll leave you with some more pictures from my extraordinary birthday treat.

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