Hola Barcelona!

It's been almost a year since my last holiday, so here comes a picture-filled post for all you travellers and foodies!
For those who are thinking of visiting Barcelona, here's some travelling tips, safety tips and restaurants to definitely try and some to steer clear of!

Getting Around
So when you arrive at Barcelona Airport, head towards the Metro (train station). Depending on where you are staying, it will most likely be cheaper to travel by train. If you're going to be sightseeing it will be worth buying the 10 trip ticket for €9.95. One journey lasts for one hour so if you need to take a bus to the station and then travel by train to another station, it will only count as one journey. These can also be shared between people, just make sure to pass the ticket to them before you exit the barrier.

Free WiFi
A little lost or looking for somewhere to eat? Being completely new to the country, it was helpful to be able to connect to free wifi spots all around Barcelona. Just log on to their free network and you're connected! Also McDonald's is another place where you can gain internet access for free, though their connection was a bit slow so you might need to be a little patient.

Stay Safe
We were warned about pickpocketing but we never thought we'd experience it firsthand! A guy crossed the road and offered us a salsa leaflet and tried to get us to go but after saying no thank you several times, he decided to try and take my boyfriend's wallet! Luckily with quick reflexes he was stopped and shouted at to draw attention. Another guy appeared looking concerned but he might have been part of the act so be vigilant when walking around.

Searching for Food
It's very easy to find somewhere to eat but it's even easier to find a bad place to eat. Looking for the best place to have traditional paella or tasty tapas? Avoid any places that have someone standing outside trying to coax you in. Another signal to avoid that place if it has a menu with pictures. These are frozen food that is served quickly and without any care. One to name - Toc de Mar. The only good thing there was their free wifi.
If you're going for dinner on a Friday night, make sure to book in advance - almost every good restaurant becomes fully booked and you'll end up eating at a place you will want to avoid.  

Places To Eat
Here's my list of favourite discoveries in Barcelona :)

Restaurant 7 Portes
I couldn't go to Barcelona and not have paella! So after doing some research, I chose Restaurant 7 Portes in Barceloneta. We were given bread and olives whilst we waited for our sangria to arrive. Half litre was too much for the two of us but enjoyable. For our mains, we ordered the seafood paella, which came with an assortment of lobster, mussels, prawns, cuttlefish, Catalan pork sausages and chicken. The lobster was cooked to perfection and the cuttlefish was tender and had the right amount of bite to it. We also chose the Catalan bubble and squeak dish - mash potatoes and cabbage with Catalan sausages, which was delicious! For dessert we had a dark chocolate sorbet and a creme brûlée. Both were exquisite :) 
Our bill came to €66.70, which may seem expensive for lunch but it was the best meal of the holiday!

Crispy sugary top on the creme brûlée!

Now this is no ordinary sweet shop. Here they make the most delicious candy right before your eyes that you won't want to leave empty-handed! We were offered a selection of fruity rock sweet samples as soon as we walked through the door and my goodness they were amazing! I tried a strawberry one and I just wanted to eat the whole pot. We left with 5 bags and were even given a small bag of acid sweets as a gift :)
Here they are making a personalised sweet for Emma.

Here's one for those with a love for cake and chocolate. I had a double deluxe chocolate cake here and it was amazing. I would definitely go back for another piece :)
Vegan Deli Bar
This place was discovered by chance and I'm so glad I stopped by! There was so much to choose from: burgers, juices, cakes and donuts. I originally was going to leave with just a slice of chocolate cake but the huge chocolate covered donut was just calling to me..
The cake was amazing. Creamy, light and guilt-free! It was so good, I failed to get a photo of it but here's the donut :)

Feeling full from all the previous treats, a small chocolate churro was all I could fit in. I had a very small bite of the donut that my boyfriend got and would recommend that instead. There's such a wide variety of flavours but being a popular place, it would be best to get there at the start of the day so you have more to choose from. They sell everything a chocoholic could want: cronuts, donuts, macarons, chocolate salami, churros, biscuits and handmade chocolate bars and truffles.

Las Frites
It's a small shop front, with two guys working here. It's known for it's handmade chips. Feeling peckish and curious, we decided to give it a try and weren't disappointed. We went for chips with the fried egg on top. Odd that they would have that topping but not an unfamiliar British thing to eat. Crunchy, crispy and well-seasoned chips - yum.
There are chips under here honestly!

Pla del Bar
I was recommended this place by a friend. We stopped by here on our last day for a few quick bites. We ordered the ham and roast chicken croquettes and patatas bravas, which was very nice and went well with the spicy tomato sauce. It's not a very big place so can become busy very quickly, so make you reserve a spot or get there early :)

La Boqueria Market
This market is bursting with colours, food and people! Open Monday-Saturday from 8:30am till 8pm, there's something for everyone. We tried a red dragon fruit and coconut juice, fruits and various empanadas. I also bought two different types of chorizo to take home.
All made from marzipan!

Gelateria Italian
Feeling hot and thirsty, I spotted this gelateria and instantly fancied sorbet. The guy was very friendly and let me try some samples before I made my decision - Pear sorbet. It was so good :) He even gave me a huge scoop.

Ruby Bar in El Born
So Ken found this place on Trip Advisor as we were seeking sangria. Unfortunately, when we arrived outside it, apart from the barmaid, it was completely empty. We hesitated and tried to find some other places nearby but since the reviews for Ruby Bar were pretty good, we decided to give it a go.
Inside, it lowly-lit with red lights with old classic hits playing from an iTunes list. There was a wide range of gins to choose from, which covered the wall and a list on a blackboard that seemed endless. 
The barmaid was very friendly and helpful and recommended me a chocolate orange cocktail. It was secretly strong with a hint of chocolate gin. I drank too slowly and the ice diluted it making it less drinkable. The strawberry mojito wasn't too bad but I'm not sure I would suggest this place. 

Places To See
Now I can't say I visited all the famous landmarks but rather stopped outside them. The one place I wanted to go to was Parc Güell but it was such a busy day, that they wouldn't let people in till 6pm. Rather than waste 3 hours waiting around we walked around the garden bits that were open to the public and jumped back on a bus back to La Ramblas. 
Tips for getting to Parc Güell:
It's a very long and steep walk so I would recommend taking a bus, as it stops directly outside the entrance. I would also recommend booking your tickets in advance to guarantee your entry and to avoid queuing. 

Another famous landmark - La Sagrada Familia. Well-known for its unfinished but beautiful architecture, this cathedral can be found just round the corner from Sagrada Familia train station. 

On our last day we ran past Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar, (near Barceloneta metro station) as we were worried we hadn't left enough time to get to the airport but we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a wedding taking place there!  

Font Màgica de Montjuïc (The Magic Fountain)
With the longer days, the Magic Fountain begins its spring-summe timetable, where you can watch a special water-light show every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9pm till 11:30pm. It's free and pretty to watch :)

Our hotel was outside the city so it took us a few trains to get there but it was easy enough. The only confusion was which way do we go to get to the beach. Thankfully there was a large group of people carrying beach things so we just followed them :) 
It's about a 15 minute walk from Barceloneta train station but there are buses you can take. If you choose to walk it, you can make pit stops at ice cream parlours and Las Frites - a small shop famous for its chips.
Parasols and deckchairs are available for $8 with no time limit. We brought towels with us so weren't fussed about deckchairs. Although I requested just a parasol, I kept having to ask and chase the man for it for 20 minutes! I was so close to giving up but I didn't want to be burnt to a crisp.

If you've made it this far down, I hope you've enjoyed reading and found this helpful :)


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