Adventures in Spain: Barcelona Day 2

What better way to start our second day in Barcelona than at the world famous Boqueria Market Place? I highly suggest that you go early when the market is first opening. All of the stalls won’t be open, but you will beat the mass of tourists that flood in later in the day. I did months of research in preparation for our trip (if you are interested in my Google maps, just email me. I have tons of great recs), but one blog that was particularly useful was Barcelona Hacks. Back to the food! They had seafood a plenty. Fresh, in decadent display.

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The seafood is just the tip of the foodie iceberg at the market. There are fresh fruits and vegetables (the smoothies/fruit juices are a steal and come in every flavor imaginable) and ham sliced razor thin. I absolutely started the day out with a cone of meat and cheese. It was delicious! The rich ham and creamy cheese was a great way to start the day.

Next up, oysters! These giant bivalves are shucked fresh for throngs of tourists. Yes, they were really that huge. The brininess of the fresh oysters was savory and succulent.

Having entered the market through the back, we walked out the front to snap a picture. From there, we started on the Barcelona Self Guided Walking Tour that I found on the blog Practical Wanderlust. Since we had already seen La Boqueria, we took the tour backwards. We started out at the Plaza Cataluna, the central hub of the city. Here there are fountains and works of monumental art, including the above pictured, Monumento Francesc Masia. This monument was designed in honor of the first president of Catalonia, Francesc Macià. The unfinished staircase design is meant to evoke the feeling that the history of Catalonia is still being written.

From the plaza, our tour of the city took us down Las Ramblas, the main street of Barcelona. We ducked onto a side street to see the Plau de la Musica, a music hall designed by a contemporary of Gaudi. The ornate details were spectacular.

While we didn’t take a tour or see a concert, we were still able to step inside to take a look around at the modernist decadence.

After soaking in a few sites, it was time for a drink break! We stopped at the recommended Espai Mescladis. This outdoor cafe is actually a non-profit to help immigrants to the city. A beer for a good cause!

Throughout the city are works of art, from street art to commissioned installations. On the perimeter of Ciutadella Park is the Homenatge a Picasso. I was particularly drawn to the weird aesthetics of this piece. The mixture of furniture cut through with spikes is meant to pay tribute to the artist and his proclamation that “a painting is not intended to decorate a drawing room but is instead a weapon of attack and defence against the enemy.”

Continuing with our tour, we walked into the neighborhood of El Born. The winding, narrow medieval streets lead to one beautiful building after another (not to mention cozy cafes, delicious dining destinations, and abundant bars). If you are interested in any recommendations for the city, I have created a comprehensive Google Maps

The Basilica de Santa Maria Del Mar is a stunning example of a Gothic basilica. Built in the 1300s, it is well worth a visit.

Another nearby noteworthy point of interest is the Barcelona Cathedral. Towering above the Gothic Quarter, the Cathedral was also constructed in the 1300s. Unlike Sagrada Familia, this cathedral is fully built!

Near the cathedral, demonstrations were starting to take place, an omen of the unrest to come in the following weeks. A supreme court ruling had sentenced Catalan separatists leaders. It was strange to see the mix of tourists and locals as these events were unfolding across the city.

Near the cathedral is one of the most photographed spots in the Gothic Quarter: the Bishop’s Bridge. Surprisingly, this is one of the newest structures in the area, constructed in 1929! I can confirm, it makes a very romantic picture.

Rounding out the afternoon, we made a stop at the Restaurant Els 4 Gats (aka 4 Cats), which was a favorite of Picasso’s back in the day. He even designed the cover of their menu! We ended up stopping for a snack since there wasn’t a wait, but to be honest, it has become a bit of a tourist trap. Worth walking by to see, but not worth waiting for a table.

Before siesta time, we had one last place to visit…shopping for espadrilles! For these, we went to La Manual Alpargatera, where these classic Spanish shoes have been made since 1940. I bought a red pair of the typical design, which are both comfortable and stylish.

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That evening, we had tickets for Casa Batllo’s Magic Nights. That’s right, we were not finished with major Gaudi sights! Once a private home, the building is now open to visitors. During the warmer months, the museum offers Magic Nights in which there is a rooftop concert following your tour through the house. I can’t recommend this enough!

The tour of the house is through audio and augmented reality guide. You are handed a cell phone that shows you what the rooms of the house would have looked like fully furnished. One really interesting facet was the mushroom shaped room around a furnace for keeping cozy.

The large windows create an open space throughout the home. Even without the guide, it is easy to imagine how opulent this was once.

On a night with a full moon, the rooftop was indeed magical. The fairy lights twinkled above us as everyone sipped cocktails. The performance on the night we went was Luna Llena, a traditional Spanish guitar group accompanied by Flamenco dancers. The classical music under the night sky with the taps of the dancer, the evening very much lived up to its promise of a magic night.

If you were thinking it was time for more food, you would be right! Right by Casa Batllo is Chef Charles Abellan’s Tapas, 24. This basement spot, set up similar to a counter-style diner, serves up funky twists on classic Spanish tapas.

We sampled a variety of dishes, and all were super tasty. We had the Bravas, potatoes with spicy sauce and aioli. The pan con tomate was also a must-try, it is a classic Spanish tapa. The fried ink squid sandwich was decadent, we probably could have ordered more! Although Paella isn’t native to Catalan, they have their own version…a giant pan pasta dish served with sausage. This was truly an outstanding meal. There was plenty to try in small yet sharable portions.

Next up, we head to Madrid! If you missed day 1 in Barcelona, you can read all about it here. If you check out my Instagram (@athenacp), I have some videos and pictures posted in my stories (and highlights) that didn’t make the blog.

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