July 01, 2013

Bye Barcelona: The Best Of - What to Eat, Drink & Do

Spice heaven at Mercat de La Boqueria, Barcelona / June 2013
Hola! I’m sitting in the first class carriage of a train, en route to Madrid from Barcelona. High-speed trains may just be my favourite means of transportation – most of the major train lines run out of the centre of the city, unlike most airports which are tens of kilometres outside of the heart of town. There is no hassle boarding (compared to the two hour check-in, bag drop-off and screening process involved in catching a plane), there is plenty of leg room (in ‘clase preferente’ at least) and it is so pleasant watching the countryside pass outside your window.

Our party of three spent our last night in Barcelona sick in bed with the flu. We were too congested, achy and feverish to leave our apartment much to our disappointment – I was feeling particularly needy and called my Mum to have a sook. Mia and I spent most of our afternoon belting out Celine Dion songs in our stuffy voices, much to Jayson’s disdain I’m sure.

Taranná café - We were immediately drawn to this café because it reminded us of Surry Hills and somewhere we would go for brunch. I am so glad we stopped here, because it is easily tops my ‘favourite cafés in the entire world’ list. The café itself had such a warm and homely feeling – outdoor seating, flowers everywhere and the sweetest, most attentive waitresses. The food itself was so fresh, I felt like it was literally nourishing every single cell in my body.  They also had a delicious range of wines for a quarter of the price you would pay anywhere near La Rambla. At night, the venue doubles as a tapas bar until at least 1am, with a large variety of different appetisers.

Juicy Jones - a colourful little vegan restaurant, about a 6 minute walk from La Rambla. While their food is incredible, their juices, smoothies and teas are to die for. Any possible exotic fruit and/or veg combination you could imagine, they’ve already mastered and for a very reasonable price. The smoothies are perfect for breakfast to get your metabolism going, and juices are ideal for a post-siesta pick-me-up.  You can add various superfoods to any of the drinks, spirulina, ginger, mint, ginseng just to name a few. The restaurant does serve alcohol, all of which is organic and ecologically friendly. It gets quite noisy as the place fills up, but this just adds to the atmosphere.

DO – Get away from La Rambla. It may be the busiest street in Barcelona but it in no way captures the essence of authentic Spanish culture. While it is worth visiting La Rambla to visit the Mercat de La Boqueria and looking at the Gaudí architecture, the rest of the street is a tourist trap. In terms of the restaurants, there is no variety in regards to what they serve – pizza, paella and sangria, the quality of which I would compare to something you would find in a TGIF or Hogs Breath café. On La Rambla, expect to pay double what you would in any store or restaurant that you would find in a side street.

I would recommend walking (everywhere) around the areas of Raval and Barri Gòtic, where you will stumble across some gems in terms of bars and restaurants, not to mention the charming architecture – these areas don’t lack authenticity in terms of the Spanish experience. Do be weary of pickpockets in these areas though. In the middle of the day, we witnessed a boy rip the necklace off an old woman’s neck and run off with it. Don’t carry anything you don’t need with you, and ladies always wear your handbag across your torso.

** I've posted this from my phone, will fix any ugly formatting when I get onto my laptop. Love love xx

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