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Category: Travel (Page 2 of 2)

la-locanada-pizza-barcelona

Barcelona: Gracia’s Top 5 Hot Spots

Ready for hippies, cheap drinks and a helluva grand kebab? Seems you’ve come to the right place! Bienvenidos a Gracia!

One of my top favorite areas of Barcelona, Gracia, is the most culture-filled and non-tourist area of the city (in my experience!). It’s a small district at the top of the city with the best places to eat, drink and hang-out. Hipsters, beers and ganja color this area, with a delightful charm. They have a plethora of squares, or placas, where you have everything you need for a (foggy) night out. Let’s indulge:

Pizzalabina Pizzeria – Carrer de Verdi, 40, Barcelona, 08012

Thin-crust pizza with more toppings that you’d imagine, this is the best pizzeria in the city. Most pizzas range from €10-15 for a whole pie, and one can easily eat a whole one (trust me, it will happen). Top that off with €6 jugs of some potent sangria and a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, and you’ve got it made! Salud!

Ugarit Restaurant Siri – Carrer de Verdi, 11, Barcelona, 08012

Just a little ways downwards of the pizzeria, is Ugarit. This place features Syrian cuisine, which was a first for me, and I loved it. Maybe a little more pricier for the Gracia area, the dishes still have a great price point, anywhere from €15-20 for a dish of truly great food. The fact that they have about three locations in Gracia alone, may assure you that this place has some frequent visitors. Quick tip, I would highly recommend the chicken shawarma dish!

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Chicken Shawarma at Ugarit!

 

Gasterea – Pintxos/Tapas Bar – Carrer de Verdi, 39, Barcelona, 08012

Yet another great place on Verdi, this is my favorite pintxos/tapas place yet! Gasterea is the real experience, too. This spot boasts the classic, long and narrow bar with an opposing ledge  for standing and eating. That may sound unappealing, I thought so at first, but it makes the experience truly unique. To compliment, bustles of locals and the buzz of conversation. Keep in mind, this place is open 7pm – 1am (Mon, Tues, Thurs) and 7pm – 2am (Fri-Sun).

This place is not so much a tapas bar, as it is more of a pitxos bar. This basically means that all the typical tapas are actually placed on a small piece of bread, with a toothpick through it (‘pintxos’ in Spanish means ‘spike’, hence toothpick). The price can’t be beat, as dishes start from a mere €1.90 per plate, and vino, served in the authentic Spanish glasses, is just as inexpensive. Do me a favor, when you go there, order ‘alcachofas fritas’ – fried artichokes – best thing you will ever have in your life!

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Amazing pinxtos – Deep fried artichoke!! To die for…

Kebab Shop –  Carrer d’Astúries (right off of Gran de Gracia, Fontana Metro Station), Barcelona

There are not many things I love more in life than a good kebab, and this place takes the win! Also located on the edge of Gracia, it has the best one in town, and great tzatziki sauce to go along with it! For €4.75, you’ll have a 4-star kebab (yes, they exist) in an authentic Turkish hole-in-the-wall. To go with that, some great vino blanco and some spinach/feta burek (Eastern Europe pastry – To die for!).

I can’t give the name or exact address (I forget the name) but the directions are simple: Going upwards in the city on Gran de Gracia, take a right at Carrer d’Asturies (look for Fontana Metro station), and walk about 20 feet, where you will see the restaurant on the left! I will update this once I find out exact name and street number.

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Ladies!!

 Bobby Gin – Francisco Giner, 47, Barcelona, 08012 

So, you’re in Barcelona. Enough with food. I want to get some dranks! Well, if you happen to be in Gracia, which I assume you will be, then get your ass over to Bobby Gin! Do it the rockstar way and go for the cocktail dinner. I guess I should mention, if you don’t like gin, this may not be the best place to go (but, who doesn’t like gin?!). Even if you don’t like gin, you should try a drink here, because chances are, the drinks here will make you a gin-aholic. They have every kind of gin you can imagine, and they make it in a mass variety of ways. Starting with the classic gin and tonic, or a fruity chardonnay-infused gin cocktail. Expect to pay €10 per drink, with is definitely pricey for Spain, but for good reason – Totally worth it and you may get pretty hammered. Ok, enough with Bobby Gin, it’s still early here and all this talk makes me want a gin and tonic…

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And there you have it! You now have a great starting point/guide to one of the best areas of Barcelona! Now get out there and enjoy it 🙂
If you happen to visit any of the places I have recommended here, I would be so happy if you shared your experience! Or, simply let me know if these places sound great or not! Cheers! And God Save the Gin!

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Top 5 (Tourist) Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona; The city of art, history, beauty, (seasonal) warmth and great Sangria. On your visit here, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with what to do, see, eat, and how many types of Sangria they have (50+ kinds – true story). So, as a travel enthusiast and minor Barca expert, I am fulfilling my foreign duty to the masses, by telling you exactly what you should do when you get to this Wonderland. Top five, Let’s get started…

 

La Sagrada Familia (church) – Calle Mallorca, 401  08013 Barcelona, Spain

Close Up Church

 

Beautiful church by Antoni Gaudi that is a must-see and maybe one of the biggest tourist destinations. Its construction started in March 1882 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar where he then, in 1883, commissioned Gaudi to continue its construction. Gaudi worked on this masterpiece until 1926, where he then passed, and to this day is being finished my architects and students, alike. After all, Gaudi once said, “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made ​​by the people and is mirrored. A work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people”.

 

Not only is it amazing from the outside (front and back), but the inside is even better. Entering the church will usually require you to wait in the queue however it generally moves quickly, and costs about €15 for the basic tour, which can include a headset with audio, overviewing the background of this historical gem. If you are going to take the time to venture inside (which you should!), I strongly suggest you go after 2pm, so you can travel up the towers. Just the basic inside tour will allow you to see the amazing stained glass work and eccentric internal architecture, quite possibly being the most amazing thing you have ever seen!

 

Park Guell (park) –  Carrer d’Olot 5 08024 Barcelona

Park Guell

 

Centered at the top of the city, past the wonderful district of Gracia, is Park Guell. Also one of Antoni Gaudi’s works of art, this is a park you should go to and get lost in for a day. Being at the top of the city, you can expect fantastic views of the city, right down to the Balearic sea. Entrance is free, however I recommend bringing some coins as you will see many local performers that are unlike the most typical.

 

Walking through the park reminds me of a certain classic Disney film – Alice and Wonderland. You are surrounded by greenery, beautiful plants, amazing Gaudi architecture and sculptures. If you want to relax with a drink, soaking in the beauty, there is a cute outdoor cafe where you can sip Sangria!

 

Port Olimpic (The sea!)

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I don’t think I need to say this, but if you are planning a trip to Barcelona, the beach is somewhere you just have to go! As a tourist, most people will think to go to the main city beach, Barceloneta. Although very nice, it is incredibly packed when the warm weather sets in, with both other tourists and the many peddlers (If you hear “Agua, cerveza, beer”, do not make eye contact). When planning a day at the beach, you should definitely bring an umbrella, water, snacks, beer, and of course, cava (Spain’s version of champagne – and better!).

 

Once you are packed and ready to go, you can either take the train or, much easier, a cab. If you take the train, try your best to take it from the yellow metro line (L4) which is accessible from most areas, specifically the core of the city, and get off at Port Olimpic. The beach is not far, and to be honest, the easiest thing to do is just follow people who have umbrellas and beach gear! This beach, allbeit still busy, is much better than the main city beach, also being cleaner. This is a great spot to tan your day away, with the glorious Balearic sea only steps away.

 

Montserrat (mountain)

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Described by many as the “sight of a lifetime”, Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park and comprises a multi-peaked mountain, specifically three main ones. It’s most often described, visually, as “pink peaks”, as the peaks are slightly pink (duh?). This is definitely a full-day trip if you want the real experience, so keep that in mind.

 

The easiest way to get here, is to take a train from Plaça de Espanya. You can then take the rack railway, which would mean you get off at Monistrol de Montserrat. Or, you can go the adventurous route, and take the cable car by getting off at Montserrat Aeri (don’t do it if you are afraid of heights!!).

 

The mountain is truly unlike many things you have probably ever seen, like a thousand natural sculptures with a spectacular view of this great city. Convinced? 😉

 

Las Ramblas (street and market)

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For a resident of Barcelona, the last place you may want to go to is Las Ramblas if you’re agitated by pushy shop owners, a fast walker, or generally dislike massive groups of people. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am a bitter beotch when it comes to tourist areas like this one. BUT, don’t let my negativity influence you – Las Ramblas is a must-see street that you need to visit while you’re here.

Where do I start – Street performers, gorgeous flower stands, music, art, you name it, it’s probably here. Take an hour and just travel down this yellow brick road, you may not be in the market for overpriced souvenirs, but it’s worth it. There is also a fresh market on this street (I can’t give exact number) but if you ask, someone will point you in the right direction. In my opinion, the market is a must!

One last piece of advice: Keep your pockets empty, your bag closed and around your shoulder, and don’t let the street peddlers distract you. It is not as scary as I make it sound, however these are just the best precautions. Pickpocketing here is an art, and it will happen without having a clue, so just be careful!

 

This list of Barcelona sights is very much like my visits to Las Ramblas – Short and sweet. It would certainly be impossible for me to give you every go-to spot is Barcelona in just one blog post, so let this post me the first of many more. I have only covered the most popular landmarks of the city. I haven’t even started on the restaurants and bars! Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post on some more area-specific top visits!


Ciao, ¡salud, Peace & Kitties!

 

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More Onesies Less Elevator Noise

That’s right. A self-reflection article should have a clever title that makes people think, and this title is exactly how I am feeling right now. I am someone who gets very overwhelmed by all the choices and amazing things around me. The realization that I need to focus and tune out is much overdue, and on this sunny and enlightening Friday at precisely 11:09 am, I start here.

In a modern world such as the one many walk on today, year 2013, we are blatantly forced to consume multimedia messages, day in and day out. Thousands of images on Facebook telling us what we ‘Like’ so we can save the world, support religious culture and of course, the most grumpy cat on the internet. Technology moving so fast, you could leave the modern world for a mere week and when you return, you’re considered part of the stone-age. So many choices on what food to eat, from which restaurant, following which food trend of the moment. No wonder we often can’t make decisions quickly enough to keep up with our fast-paced society.

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The Next Grumpy Cat??

If what I am describing is any relation to how you feel on a weekly basis, you are not alone. I believe there are millions of people, in our modern-world bubble, racing against their minds and our so well-developed culture. I also believe, as amazing and predominate the human species is, we are going in the wrong direction. Completely.

The faster we run as a modern human race, the faster we consume, the faster we dispose and ultimately, the faster we lose our minds and the world in which we live in. Ironically, losing our literal minds is not such a loss, as there are robots being developed as we speak (by modern-day humans). As I know everyone has read on Facebook or somewhere of the sort, we are destroying our world and ourselves. I am not here to preach to you, just put it into perspective. The fact that, yes, we are overwhelmed by messages from every direction, allows us to forget the most important one of all. We can’t live the glorious lives we do, without the use of the planet we walk on.

Wear more onesies and you eliminate one extra choice you have to make during your compounded day. Block out the elevator noise and pay attention to what really matters (whatever that is, in your mind).

Source: dexikas.blogspot.com

**article was inspired by not knowing what to wear on the first spring warm day, and trying on clothing choices for too long until I realized how much of a waste of time it was. Then, I put on a onesie and life seemed so much simpler and the clothing choice was made. Secondly, knowing how much I need to better focus on my tasks at hand, I decided to block the elevator noise.

 

Spanish tapas

Just Call Me, Master

One of my greatest loves in life can only get better when you learn how to master it.

And no, before you get too excited, I am not talking about men. I am talking about FOOD.

We all need it, many love it, so life can only get better when we can make a masterpiece of a meal, look at it, instagram the sh*t out of it, and then.. Eat it. Its a great feeling, for me anyway.

This specific night I was taking on a new dinner challenge: Spanish tapas. I have had them numerous times in restaurants, and I have to say, one of my top favorite cuisines. I had yet to attempt a great Spanish meal, and I had two hungry mouths to feed that also have had their fair share of tapas. So this dinner, it has to be good.

In an almost panicked rush, I picked out numerous dishes that I would make for the inaugural tapas dinner. I even structured them into three different courses. I will say it now, I went totally overboard and had 8x too much food, considering it was for three people. With some great Catalan wine to boot, I could see no failure ahead.

After the prepping, cooking the starters and then heading back to the kitchen to cook more of the food (Its got to be fresh, after all!), I had so much food on the table, it was a little overwhelming (although delicious!). Unfortunately, I did not even get a chance to cook everything I prepped for, or even half of it, as I had so damn much and like I said, we were only three people. However, I saved lots of the dishes for the next day, and they were just as delicious.

I found most of my recipes online, so I will list the best dishes below with a link to the online recipe.

And then I just had to add in a Canadian recipe:
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Deviled Eggs!

I tried to take pictures of each dish, however after a few too many glasses of wine and food overdose, I didn’t quite get every dish on the table! I suggest giving all of the recipes listed here a try, they are really amazing and one thing I always do when I cook, is not follow the recipe! I simply use it as a guide and adjust it to my taste, and I find that is always the best! The Key is Experimentation!
Enjoy the recipes and if you have any Spanish recipes you would like to share, comment below and I will add them!
Bon Provecho!!

 

FIRST POST!! And Barcelona Is My Girlfriend

Ahhh, how refreshing it is to write on my personal blog again. Its been about 2 years and 3 countries later, but I have now decided to start documenting my thoughts and daily life on the internet. This could be a huge mistake, but I guess we’ll see…

barcelona travel

Walking To The Beach! (In October)

Its been 2 months since I have moved to lovely Barcelona, Spain from London, UK and I must say, I really love it. London was a place I thought I would never leave, but when I had the option for sun and beaches, well I guess the decision was easy!I have heard a weird story of some lady marrying a building, so do you think its possible that I marry a country?? I can’t say that would be ‘good’ publicity for my reputation – Or would it??

Considering this is the ‘first’ post of my newly transformed blog, please don’t hate on the fact that it has no structure or flow to it – Honestly, I am literally just rambling and spitting my thoughts out through my finger tips. I promise, next post wont be so scattered 😉

Let’s get to something interesting, I will give you some highlights of Barcelona, thus far…

Great Bars/Restaurants!

I have been to quite a few by now, both cheap and expensive, and I have to say, only about 1 disappointment (out of probably 60). The food is amazing and drinks, cheap, so it is very easy to have a great afternoon or night with friends without spending too much! There are some expensive clubs that are a great place to visit, however definitely more of an ‘indulgement’! I will be sure to highlight specific places in the near future!

Barcelona tapas

Barcelona Tapas

Great People and Atmosphere!

I have met some great people through friends or randomly, and it has been a very pleasing experience. People, in general, are very warm, and that makes a newbie like me feel very welcome. The laid-back environment of basically everywhere in this city is very catchy, even for city folk like me that can’t stand walking so damn slow on the walk ways (I either go with it or plan my fast paced route ahead!). However, I must say, the drivers are basically insane here and use their car horns as their own cursing device.

I have much more to say however its getting to be siesta time and I should really be getting to the local cava bar for some €4 cava (Catalonia champagne 😀 ). Life is hard!

I hope my scattered first entry was bareable for those who took time to read (Thank you!) and I promise to give you lots of interesting material (including pics and videos!!) – so stay tuned! Will also add my social media links as well!

And of course, comment below! Cheers and Adios!

 

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