Barcelona

Stay

As yet, I haven’t had a remarkable stay experience in Barcelona. I’m usually there for study tours, so location and tour budget usually dictate the choice.  I usually like to arrange accommodation close to the metro line to visit the school. In October 2015 we stayed at Hotel America quite acceptable for our needs. This hotel is in the L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample neighborhood, a 5-minute walk from Diagonal metro station, in an area that feels more residential that touristy.

Eat

Bar Joan 3Bar Joan – There are many great places to eat in Barcelona, but our favourite is Bar Joan. It is located in Santa Caterina markets. These markets are, again, more local rather than tourist. The main market off Rambla, La Boqueria is amazing with its own appeal. We first stumbled onto Bar Joan in December 2013.

We were there on a Thursday – Paella day, so this was where the workers queued to have lunch. We just joined the queue and had lunch of fresh regional dishes.

Again in September 2015 we returned and weren’t disappointed. This time it was Friday, we went all the way with the Menu del Dia for €11. Before eating we walked around the Santa Caterina Markets and observed as the women made their purchases for the evening’s meal, cut fresh from the fish by the fishmonger wielding an-almost dangerous weapon.

Bar Joan 2So, of course we had fish, it was Friday, after all. But the conclusion of the meal was the highlight – a coffee flavoured cream caramel – I didn’t want it to end. So I took a photo of the empty plate.

Paco Meralgo – When I plan for the Study Tour we always start and end with a meal somewhere local, reflecting the local culture. Travelling with up to 16 people means that we can’t just arrive at a restaurant and hope for a table. I undertook my research prior to the tour – close to our hotel, fixed price menu and a generally favourable response on review websites. This is how I found Paco Meralgo. They were very helpful in arranging the booking for our group and provide a wonderful tapas meal for our inaugural night together. On our first visit I was quite gratified to see a queue of people waiting outside for a table. But don’t forget, this is Spain, we don’t eat before 8pm.

Drink (coffee)

Each of these are cafes with reliable coffee – most with food.

CAfe el magnifico BCNEl Magnifico – Roaster and cafe in the El Born with single-origin coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Java, Nicaragua, Colombia and India. It’s just coffee.

Caravelle– Just off Rambla, this one is easy to find and has a great range of breakfast/lunch offerings available as well.

Nomad Coffee BArcelona
Nomad Coffee Lab

Nomad Coffee Lab- This was the most recent find in Barcelona in 2015. It’s just all about the coffee. Tricky to find, but worth it.

Federal Cafe – Named after a small town in Australia “Federal is a small town on the Binna Burra rd, halfway between Possum Creek and Goonengerry in Northern New South Wales, Australia.”

Experience

20121217-150115.jpgNeed I say Basílica de la Sagrada Família. This as yet unfinished cathedral is probably one of my most favourite buildings in the world – the openness and Gaudi’s attention to detail. As well as exploring the main chuch, taking note of every detail, also take the elevator up the tower for the views of Barcelona, the spiral staircase and the shapes and patterns.

Outside the church visit the school originally designed by Gaudí in 1909 for the children of the construction workers. It looks like a fairytale cottage. Inside is the reconstructed school, as well as Gaudi’s plans and diagrams.