First Stop: Barcelona
It's been just about two months since the wedding and the honeymoon post is long overdue. This post will be the first of a series, detailing our travels through the beautiful country of SPAIN! We spent nine glorious days basking in the Spanish sunlight, immersing ourselves in the rich culture of the world around us. For a country so impressive in music, architecture, and dance, you would not expect any less of its food. To say the least, we were not disappointed.
The first three days of our trip were spent in beautiful Barcelona, a city that has perfected the fusion between old and new, blending medieval architecture with modern shops and restaurants, leaving a surprise in every corner and down every street as you walk through the narrow alleys of the Gothic Quarter. Strolling along the cobblestone roads, every turn led to new sights, smells, and tastes, saturating the senses and painting a colorful picture of life and excitement.
|Placa Reial, Barcelona|
As soon as we landed at the Barcelona airport, after a 10 hr flight from Miami, all we could think about was PAELLA, PAELLA, PAELLA. Our hotel sat right along Las Ramblas, the local and tourist ridden street running through central Barcelona. The street is alive with cart vendors, restaurants, and people, never slowing down until the early morning hours. Given its popularity, Las Ramblas hosts many "tourist trap" restaurants. Tired and hangry, we stopped by the first restaurant we saw on the street that offered a paella and 3 tapas for just 12 euros. Travelers beware! Don't fall for the same trap we did. The food at many of these restaurants is expensive and mediocre. You can find better food for cheaper prices just by walking a few blocks or doing your research. Having learned our lesson, we researched most of the subsequent restaurants we went to.
I recently came across a term that perfectly fits the nature of our travels: "food tourism. " We base our traveling on the restaurants we want to try. Using that as our final destination, we tour the local popular spots on the way to and around it, and at the end of the day we have usually hit all the main attractions. More importantly, our bellies and tastebuds are happy. Using walking as our main method of transport (with the occasional subway or taxi), we are able to experience the streets, the people, and the buildings, all the while burning off some calories in prep of our next meal.
La Plata, Barcelona
|La Plata, Barcelona. From left to right, top to bottom: fried sardines; house tinto wine; bread and tomato paste topped with catalonian sausage or anchovies; onion and tomato salad dressed with vinegar and olive oil|
Sensi Tapas, Barcelona
|Sensi Tapas, Barcelona. From left to right, top to bottom: patatas bravas, duck timbale with potatoes and parmesan, foie gras risotto, baby eel and squid salad.|
|Xaloc, Barcelona. Top to bottom, left to right. Eggs broken over fried potatoes and Iberian ham; Shrimp in garlic oil; Wine bottle decor; Pitcher of Sangria|
La Boqueria, Barcelona
|La Boqueria, Barcelona|
One of my favorite memories of our 4 years in Philadelphia is Reading Terminal Market, an indoor market in central Philadelphia, filled with different meat and cheese shops, produce vendors, and food stalls. As soon as we stepped foot in La Boqueria in Barcelona, we were immediately whisked back to those days at Reading Terminal where we would go to pick out our weekly fruits and vegetables and sample a myriad of cheeses freshly cut from the wheel. La Boqueria is an outdoor market even bigger than Reading Terminal and similarly stocked with vendor stalls featuring produce, cheese, jamon, candy, and gastrobars. The options are endless and for an indecisive person it could take hours to decide which cheese shop was better than the next, or which bar had the best razor clams. It was with bittersweet feeling that we left this beautiful market that had invoked such fond memories of our time in Philly.
Architecture and the influence of Gaudi
|Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi|
Ok fine, we did not actually have a destination wedding. The day before we left for the honeymoon, we thought to ourselves: wouldn't it be cool if we brought along our wedding gear for a photoshoot? We had each only packed a carry-on and had free checked bags, so why not? Our last day in Barcelona, we woke up at 5AM, did hair and make up, and set out on the streets before 8AM. We wanted to get the most beautiful shots with natural lighting and at a time when hopefully not too many tourists were out. Since nightlife in Barcelona doesn't end until late in the night and early morning, that meant everybody was still sleeping in at 8AM. The streets were ours to take! With a tripod and a Nikon Coolpix in hand, we hit the alleyways of the gothic quarter, the Parc de la Ciutadella, and Labyrinth Park.