Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hola Barcelona.

Hola!

If you've read my previous Paris post, I mentioned that I would share some of the things I found during my very short 3 day trip to Barcelona. So, here it is.

We arrived at Barcelona Sants at approximately 2 pm, and after a 6 hour train ride from the French capital, it is fair to say that we were famished. Naturally, the first stop was the nearest tapas restaurant, which in this case was about a 5 minute walk from our bed and breakfast. They had the typical paella, patatas bravas, allioli...


Of course, before my travels I researched which dishes are already or can easily be made meat, dairy, and egg free. I found that these include what I had, which is vegetables grilled in generous amounts of olive oil. Others include patatas bravas and allioli (surprisingly, as I originally thought they were made with mayonnaise), setas al ajillo (mushrooms with garlic), and pimientos de Padron (green peppers from Padron fried in olive oil), to name a few. To be honest I was still hungry despite eating this entire plate of vegetables, so I was pleasantly surprised that the local supermarket had a bottle of gazpacho. Fresh tomatoes, yum yum yum. 


The late afternoon was then spent wandering around the foot of the Montjuic Mountain. I got to finally visit the Pavello Mies van der Rohe, designed for the 1929 Exhibition that took place in Barcelona. Just down the road was a mini version of Spain, known as the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village). Basically it was an open air museum that showcases the variety of architecture in Spain combined with shopping. The cobblestone alleys were lined with shops that sold olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chocolates, ceramics (!), jewellery.. You get the drift. I myself got a ceramic tile inspired by Gaudi and some organic rose, mango, and goji berry dark chocolates.


The following day was partly dedicated to the Modernisme master Antoni Gaudi, starting with the most famous icon of Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. Seriously, words cannot express how amazed I was. 

Through his brilliance, Gaudi translated his studies of nature to extraordinary geometries: hyperbolic paraboloids, hyperboloids, helicoids... And the list goes on and on and on. Even without that knowledge I think it becomes pretty obvious through his architecture that Gaudi was a nature kinda guy- does the out of this world staircase not remind you of a shell? Or perhaps a Romanesco broccoli? Fibonnaci sequence, anyone? 


We then moved on to another of Gaudi's masterpieces just outside the city centre, the Parc Guell. As well as providing spectacular views of the city, it also showcases Gaudi's use of trencadis, aka mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles. I loved all the patterns, colours, and textures created by this technique that I may have to try it here at home. 

A short ride to La Rambla later, we arrived at Barcelona's most famous market, La Boqueria. Here is where all the eye candy begins. 


Tons of cheap fruit and vegetables, freshly made juices, refreshing smoothies, nuts of all varieties... EVERYWHERE. I was in raw vegan heaven. I myself had a kiwi coconut smoothie and an organic melon mint juice, plus lots and lots of macedonia (fruit salad). According to mother dearest the melon mint juice tasted just like a mojito, and if that is the case, then I want some! 


I've never seen so many mushroom varieties in my life! I want to eat it all.


Goji berries for 2,50 Euros a pack, which to me is relatively cheap. This, paired with the small bag of walnuts and macadamias I got, was the perfect energy boost for all the walking that came afterwards. 


To my surprise, at the very back of the market was a small vegetarian stall called Organic. At the time I was there they offered some 'orgasmic' paella, falafel filled pita breads, stuffed baked potatoes and sandwiches. It was one of the only places I found which had vegetarian paella, so if you'd want some, I highly recommend that you go and give it a try; I myself regret that I didn't. Be warned though that to get there you'll have to get through shops selling chorizo, cheeses, and other animal products; I suppose  that is why I didn't think of looking there as I wandered around to find lunch. It is also worth noting that this stall only offers take away food, but from what I remember there is another branch nearby on Carrer Junta de Comerc where you can have a sit down meal. 

Not all is lost though, since I did discover another vegetarian sit down restaurant just a couple of minutes away. 


The place was called BioCenter, which serves organic vegetarian food with a range of vegan options. As well as having an ala carte menu that features dishes like gazpacho, gnocchi, raw lasagne and burgers, they also have a salad bar that entitles you to get as much salad as your heart and belly desires. That includes lots of leafy greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes... Mmm. As you can see above, I was not at all embarrassed to show how hungry I was. 

They also had a selection of cakes, including a dairy and egg free chocolate cake and pumpkin walnut cake. I, with my undying love for pumpkin, went straight for that option. Although of course, I do love chocolate too; but that cake you can find virtually anywhere. The verdict? OMG, why did I never think of making this kind of cake before? It was superb!


On our way to the Picasso Museum, we met two hungry travelling artists whom we got post cards from. Mine isn't show in the photo, since the artist was still finishing it off. Seriously loving all the street art in Europe.


Later that night, my family and I celebrated my younger brother's 9th birthday by watching a Flamenco show at Los Tarantos. It was conveniently located a couple of minutes away from CAT Bar, home of 100% vegetarian food and artisan vegan beer. Hands down, it was the best burger and patatas bravas I have ever had in my life. This huge plate of food wasn't too costly either, at only 8,50 Euros. I went for the Original burger that comes with a mixed salad and chips or patatas bravas, but there are other variants that sound just as good. How about a Green burger with spinach and pesto, a Black Cat bean burger with aubergines and garlic sauce, or a spicy Mexican burger with jalapenos? Ugh, just thinking about it makes me want to go back for more.


Our final day started with a bit more Gaudi, this time in the form of Casa Mila. The building, locally known as La Pedrera for its resemblance to an open quarry, was originally designed as a family home but with apartment spaces for renting. Its roof also provides a stunning view of La Sagrada Familia. 


Later on we got on the Barcelona Turistic Bus, which allows you to soak up some vitamin D while soaking up some of the Catalan views. We ended up at a mall along the coast, but since it was a Sunday, none of the shops and only a few of the restaurants were open. Luckily for me, one of those restaurants happened to be Udon. Some options include tofu skewers, sushi, noodles, and salads. 


Since we were around the area anyway, I went on a little side trip to the 2004 Forum Building designed by Herzog & De Meuron. They do a lot of experimenting with textures and materials, so if you're interested in a bit of modern architecture, then you should look 'em up. 


Our last stop before going back to France was the Casa Battlo, another Gaudi building. Although the Casa Mila is more known and visited by tourists, I personally think Casa Battlo has a lot more personality. Everywhere I looked, the sinuous lines and trencadis technique made me imagine a fantasy underwater world ruled by dragons and dinosaurs. I hope that makes sense. It does, right?

Oh! Another fun fact for you: Gaudi was a vegetarian for health reasons. I didn't actually know that up until my handy little audio guide told me so. He and his father were apparently obsessed with fresh air and water, and to be honest, I don't blame them. Interesting diet though... It consisted mostly of lettuce leaves, a bit of milk, olive oil, nuts, gently stewed chard stalks, honey on bread, and water. 

Anyway, before I get way off topic, I'm going to sign off now. Until then, keep smiling and stay healthy. 

Much love,
Ysabelle 






5 comments:

  1. Great pictures...thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for the feedback, always happy to share! :)

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  2. Thank you for coming to the Cat Bar! :) Hope to see you again!

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    1. No problem! Ahhh I hope to return to Barcelona and to Cat Bar too. Such an interesting city. :)

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