Sunday, March 27, 2011

Barcelona Travel Guide: Braving the tourist meccas

Hola Bloggy Friends,

Our Spanish window
This morning we started our day with the customary bowl of oatmeal and yogurt, and a steamy cup of coffee. We love having a kitchen to be able to avoid the cost of buying breakfast every day. Thankfully, it's equipped with all the dishes, silverware and coffee-making apparatuses we need.

With the help of our guide book, we decided to take a tour of the Barri Gòtic, or the Gothic section of Barcelona. This included the busy city square, Plaça de Catalunya, and a stroll down Avinguda Portal de el'Angel — both too touristy for my taste. The highlight, for me, was a tour of the ornate Catedral de Barcelona, which was built around the sarcophagus of Barcelona's patron saint, Eulalia, a thirteen-year-old girl who was tortured and murdered by Romans because of her Christian beliefs. This is also the site where six Native Americans were baptized when they came to Spain with Christopher Columbus.

In Buenas Migas
After stopping for a mid-day snack and wine at Focacceria Buenas Migas, we braved the Ramblas, a 1.2 kilometer stretch of street littered with clothing stores, patisseries and souvenir shops. Talk about touristy. Every guide book and video says this is the place to go in Barcelona, but I thought it was downright terrible. With tour groups shoving past us, street performers yapping for our attention and little old ladies reaching for a euro, it reminded me of my least favorite part of every major city – think Times Square, Fisherman's Wharf or the Champs-Élysées.You kind of have to do it at least once, though. Right?

One respite from the cheesiness was an open-air market called La Boqueria. If you're counting size, this thing makes Philly's Reading Terminal look puny. It seemed like there was a dozen of every kind of store — from bakeries, to delis to produce stands. It was so colorful and fascinating to see, and the food looked fantastic. Too bad we were still full from lunch.

At Somorrostro
To get far away from Barcelona's tourist haven, we took a cab to the upper peaks of Montjuïc, where we drooled over the view of Barcelona from the Castell de Montjuïc, an ominous fortress built to stifle citizen revolts in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it served as an execution spot during Franco's reign. Afterwards, we worked our way down the garden-laden hill to see an awe-inspiring water and light show at Font Màgica. It was an ideal spot to watch the sun disappear before returning home to ready ourselves for din-din.

We went to a restaurant called Somorrostro in the beach side Barceloneta neighborhood. We thought we'd be cool and arrive late like the locals, but when we got there everyone was finishing up and we ended up closing the place down! Our meal was delicious, and quite fancy without having to pay froofy prices. Alan had a duck dish surrounded by a variety of complementary compotes and sauces, and I had a white fish served on a trio of flavorful rices. The food we've had so far has been fantastic, and the wine even better. I'll have to start keeping an eye out for Spanish wines when I get back home.

Besides sounding grumpy about some of the touristy places we saw today, I really am smitten with Barcelona. It's like God took the best grit of Rome, mixed in a little elegance from Paris and added a bucketful of Spanish flair. We're so excited to see what's next.

Have a great day, Bloggy Friends. I'll chat with you mañana.



rightupmytweet said...

I know what you mean - I guess you have Parque Guell on your list and you'll like that. To avoid tourist traps altogether try Gracia quarter (up Paseo de Gracia and it starts off on the other side of Diagonal) day or night, as well as the more central Born and Raval - home to immigrants for centuries and still full of old-fashioned shops.
It's also worth going on a short trip out of town to Sitges.

Bill Fogle said...

Enjoyed your writing about getting stuck in the touristy part. Interesting what Laurie says (on Facebook) about the Spaniards not minding the street performers as much as U.S. people do. I'd have hated it. Can you picture me pouting? I know it's difficult.

This trip sounds like it is going very well! Laurie is keeping us amused on Facebook with photos of her paella pans and Spanish wines. It's like we're all in Spain with you! Sortof.

Barcelona Budget said...

I apperceive what you beggarly - I assumption you accept Parque Guell on your account and you'll like that. To abstain day-tripper accessories altogether try Gracia division (up Paseo de Gracia and it starts off on the added ancillary of Diagonal) day or night, as able-bodied as the added axial Born and Raval - home to immigrants for centuries and still abounding of ancient shops.

It's aswell account traveling on a abbreviate cruise out of boondocks to Sitges

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