Barcelona Impressions – Part I


Our yearly city trip second edition took us to Barcelona. After our trip to Venice, our expectations were very high. Not sure they were fully delivered upon.

We were left with a mixed feeling on the success of our trip. Some things were great, other were very disappointing. As with all trips we learned a lot about ourselves as well… like… we really don’t like crowds, and maybe not as much cities either. Next destination? Probably a wellness arrangement with overnight stay in a quiet environment with beautiful nature, good food and a bit of luxury.

Here’s why…

Our hotel

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We stayed at Anakena House Modernista B&B, very well located close to the Placa Universidat and Placa de Catalunya, yet a bit more quiet. What a find. One floor, 9 rooms, in old school style, delicious breakfast, nice and very accommodating staff, very good beds. We felt at home. So, this one was a good start.

The weather

It is still so cold in Belgium with so little sunshine… what a nice change to have 21 degree, blue sky and sunshine! We get all warmed up and feel so good. What an impact this can have on your overall well being…

Mercado de Boqueria

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Our walking guide (Keetie from BroodEn Tomaat, Dutch guides that take you on a walking or bicycle tour, explaining all the background you need, all the little nice places and reasonably priced – love them!) took us through the side entrance into the market. Brilliant idea. On this extremely busy Saturday there is just no way of passing through the main entrance. It always surprises me how different some things are so closeby (only 2 hours of flight…): the meat… the goat heads… the stomach… a lot of organ meat. Not something that would sell well in our place. We agreed to come back on Monday, when it would be less crowdy, to eat at one of those tapa bar open restaurants. We did, but as you will read in the food section of this blog, again a mixed success. Meatballs good, mushrooms with Porto good, mixed fish dish with mainly scallop things… meh, strawberries on a stick njummy.

The old hospital

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Our guide Keetie also took us here – the old hospital for poor people – where Gaudi eventually died after being hit by that tram. Very cute inner courtyard. Though some dodgy figures hung around as well. Some marijuana fumes coming to meet you here and there. The street to get there from the Mercado stank tremendously of urine and a lot of homeless people were still sleeping in the street. We spend some time in the park to observe the birds.

Placa de Sant Felip Neri

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This square was bombed in 1938 by fascists and killed dozens of people, including a lot on children. The scars are still very visible on the facades. Now kids of the neighboring school are playing back on this square during play time. I probably ask stupid questions, but I was wondering “are they not running away if it is not fenced? are people not afraid they are being snatched?”. In Belgium there seem to be an increased sense of vigilance on anything to do with our kids, them not being snatched by some sort of pedophile (Belgium’s trauma since Dutroux 1996), terrorist attacks on big schools (Belgium’s trauma since March 2016) etc…

Casa Míla

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We were not fully impressed by this building. Maybe because only a part is open, the roof is not as elaborately decorated as Casa Battló, we could not marvel at the nice front door as it was open and the view was blocked by the desks of the hostesses, … Staff was very friendly though and the shop was nice. From the rooftop we saw Sagrada Familía. It didn’t look as far as in reality… we found that out after we did the whole walk by foot…

Sagrada Familía

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Third time I visit the church. Each time a little more is finished. Never gets dull. Love the parks on both sides. If you would sit inside the church for a few hours you could see the light beams change direction and angle. Happy we did the Nativity tower this time… gives a complete different view of the city. If time permitted I would come back in the morning, afternoon and evening. It was immensely crowded, luckily most of the time you are gazing up inside the church. Actually I have the impression overall it was extremely busy this weekend in Barcelona, probably to do with San Jordi, but I can’t imagine it is only that.

The food

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The only good food we had was our breakfast at the hotel, especially the baked stuff. And the cakes at Caelum, Nougat from Vicens, icecream in the form of a rose and SOME tapas. But in general we found that the food was expensive and mediocre.

At the Placa del Pi we had a lunch of 4 tapas and a drink. The tapas were made out of a slice of french bread with some topics. 10 € and it wasn’t even memorable. When I took some pictures of the establishment the owner was signaling that I was only allowed to make one picture. Huh??? What is this? This was day one and it didn’t go down well with me. Maybe we had more luck at dinner? We were so exhausted after our 12,5 km walking that day (yes, I use an app) that we really didn’t feel like going far away. So – on recommendation of our hotel staff – we went to a place close-by, frequented by the locals. It had a very good vibe, nice and friendly staff. Some of the dishes which were very nice, others disappointing. By the time we got to the last dish it became apparent that the vowel canal of the shrimps were not removed. This is so not done in my culture. Anyway, overall it was good, real good wine, but quite pricey. Eventually we returned the next day as we were too exhausted to look for something else and at least it was close to the hotel. The mini hamburgers were brilliant but at 3,5 € a piece hefty priced again.

Day 1 in a nutshell?

Got up at 3:30 am, welcomed in a great B&B, ate mediocre and pricey food, saw some cool stuff, met some nice people, met some unfriendly frustrated people, got a tan, walked 12,5 kms and ended up exhausted in bed by 10 pm.

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