Last weekend we went to Barcelona, our second visit since moving to Madrid. While the weekend began with one intention, the plans were quickly foiled by a certain 20 letter long Volcano. Certain plans were made and expectations set, none panned out as intended. But you know what they say “when life hands you lemons…”…you go find the best place to cook them up. And that’s what we did…EAT.
Bar Lobo – Lobo means Wolf. This place is a cafe, tapas place, asian-flare restuarant and bar all rolled into one…depending on the time of day you go there and what you fancy at the time. We went for a coffee and enjoyed the atmosphere. The food at the next table looked good though.
La Vinya del Senyor – I think I visited La Vinya del Senyor three times over the weekend. This is a wine bar in the Plaza of Santa Maria del Mar, it’s charming both inside and out in the plaza. They have wines (and cavas) by the glass at 10ml, 14ml and bottles as well as a menu of bar tapas like sausages, cheeses, olives, breads…etc. I loved it and will go back when in Barcelona.
Crema Canela – What I would give to have this in Madrid! It was a small all-white bistro like restaurant near Plaza Reial (close to Las Ramblas). The meals were well priced. I had a Mediterranean salad (green salad with small servings of tabouli, humus, pita and olives) and then tuna which was cooked to perfection and served on a bed of stewed tomatoes and fried basil leaves. Very few items on the menu exceeded €10.
CheeseMe – Anything with cheese in the title calls my attention. On an exhausting day we settled here in the La Ribera neighborhood on Calle Argentina for dinner. On a Saturday night they had a three course set menu open for €20 that was well worth it. Of course every dish contains some cheese but there is an “anti-cheese” plate on the menu if you just can’t do it.
Orio Euskal Taberna – This is basque Pintxo eating at its greatest. You simply walk in, grab a seat or stand at a table or bar, ask for a plate from the bartender, get your drink and you’re off! The bar is covered with a variety of pintxo’s for you to select and take as you wish. Often when new arrivals are sent up the dumb waiter from the kitchen, the staff will bring them around to see if anyone wants the new fresh item before its placed with the others on the bar. Most pintxo’s are veggies, meats, fish on a piece of bread with a toothpick. When you’ve had your fill, the waiter simply counts the number of toothpicks (€1.80) on your plate and charges accordingly.
Outside our weekend of culinary delights I can recommend the following:
We rented an apartment from Top Barcelona Apartments on Calle Taller just barely off Las Ramblas in Barri Gotic. We were really pleased not only with the location but also the apartment and company itself. They were kind and extremely responsive to emails (even on the weekends). Our arrival was made complicated by the volcano but they were very accommodating. I also prefer apartment stay when going somewhere 3 or more nights for convenience and it gives you the chance to tackle foreign grocers for snacks and breakfast items.
Given that this was not our first visit to Barcelona we were able to relax when it came to the sites, and really focus on walking and discovering neighborhoods – La Ribera, Barri Gotic, Eixample…etc. Of course we did do a few sites, one in particular that I would recommend is a visit inside Gaudi’s La Pedrera (aka Casa Mila). An entry ticket gives you access to one large apartment (period furnished), the attic (which has an extensive exhibit in it) and the roof deck which is spectacular and provides great views of Barcelona. The tour gives great insight to the whimsical yet genius mind of Catalunya’s golden boy, Antoni Gaudi. With a student ID I paid €8, I think the standard rate is €10. In July concerts are held on the roof.
I often get asked the question – which do you like better, Barcelona or Madrid? I think that’s not really a fair question. These cities are so far apart regionally, historically, culturally…they don’t even share a common language. The answer is simply that I love them both and am fairly certain you will too.
Bar Lobo – Pintor Fortuny, 3 Barcelona 08001 Tel: 93 481 53 46
La Vinya del Senyor – Placa Santa Maria, 5 Barcelona 08003 Tel: 93 310 33 79
La Crema Canela – Passatge Madoz, 6 Barcelona 08002 Tel: 933 182 744
CheeseMe – Pl. Jacint Reventós Barcelona 08003 Tel: 93 268 11 27
Orio Euskal Taberna – Ferran, 38 Barcelona 08002 Tel: 902 520 522
Top Barcelona Apartments – Rambla Catalunya, 77 Barcelona 08007 Tel: 934 875 119
La Pedrera – Provença, 261 – 265 Barcelona 08008 Tel: 902 400 973