This four part blog post series documents my second trip to Catalunya in August and September of 2016. This is the trip I started to really discover what the region is all about, or rather how it ebbs and flows.
My last trip to Barcelona was absolutely thrilling and amazing, so when I found out that I was set to visit for a week and a half, I was more than excited! Of course, I quickly researched about other things to do in Barcelona. I had actually done quite a lot of things in the city and so Victor’s family suggested some trips outside of Barcelona and even outside Catalunya. Nonetheless, there’s a saying about London that if a man gets tired of London he is tired of life… well the same is true for Barcelona (perhaps even more so).
On the first day, Victor and I headed out to Monestir de Pedralbes. The monastery is about 30 minutes outside the city center, and you’ll probably have to do some walking and take a bus. It’s so cool to walk around, so don’t miss out like I did the first time I went to Barcelona! Read more about my trip to the monastery here.
Towards the evening, we headed to Montjuïc. The hill has a lot of cool attractions on it, some of which I’ve visited, including the Fundació Joan Miró, a modern art museum centring on the works of Joan Miró, and the Olympic park. This time, Victor and I walked to Montjuïc Castle. The castle is actually an old military fortress, dating from 1640. Next to the castle also has some pretty good views of the city.
Also on Montjuïc is Palau Nacional, which is home to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). I have yet to go inside, but why I mention it is because of what is in front of the museum: the Magic Fountain. Tourism as its finest, the Magic Fountain is beautiful light show with shooting fountains and epic music playing the background.
Another major thing I had not visited in Barcelona is Parc de la Ciutadella. It is a beautiful park and probably of the top things to do in the city. It’s not just known for it’s green spaces, but also for its monuments and architecture.
High on my list was the beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana. And wow, what a sight! Both the interior and exterior are astonishing. A totally different style within modernisme, it really takes your breath away.
Food-wise, Victor and I went to a delicious restaurant right outside Palau de la Música. We were a little skeptical at first, considering the place should be prime location for tourists, but we were pleasantly surprised. My favuorite patatas bravas came from here!
Barcelona has a great cafe/bar culture, where you can get a beer or coffee anytime of the day. I visit three different ones this time, one for a beer, another for a cocktail, and the other for chocolate milk!
In the Gothic Quarter, Els Quatre Gats is a gorgeous cafe that was a central meeting point for Barcelona’s most prominent modernist figures, such as Pablo Picasso and Ramon Casas I Carbó. The atmosphere is terrific, and really sends you back to a time like any other.
Tucked away in the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter is the second cafe I visited, Bosc de les Fades, Barcelona’s own fairy tale forest. Seriously, it is gorgeous inside. Though I wouldn’t recommend their margaritas, I highly recommend ordering something from here so you can enjoy the magical world.
The third cafe I visited is across La Rambla into the Raval and was one I picked based on something it is famous for: Cacaolat. Granja M. Viader is the birthplace of a delicious smoothie of milk and cocoa (Cacaolat). It’s kind of like stepping back in time to another era, just like Els Quatre Gats, but kind of an old school time.
Barcelona, like many cities, has its share of markets. There are a couple historic ones, and then some more modern types of markets (though those are up in coming). Just a couple minutes away from Granja M. Viader is the famous Boqueria market, which Victor and I quickly ran through before it closed. Lots of hustle and bustle for sure!
Another market I visited is well-known to Barcelona locals, and perhaps lesser known to tourists: Mercat dels Encants. It functions as a flea market, where you can find the cheapest of cheap. Clothing, toys, furniture, fabric, music, art, you name it. Mercat dels Encants is in fact the largest market of its kind in Barcelona.
Kind of an interesting history, Mercat Encants used to be elsewhere in a small area in the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes. They then built a second market in the same neighborhood of Glòries called Encants Nous. The reason they built it was because the first market was kind of *illegal* and not an entirely great experience. Encants Nous was more legitimate, but still pretty small to accommodate all the buyers. Because of its history and reputation, the City Council has been trying to redevelop the Glòries area. One of their main initiatives has the been the Design Hub. A third attempt for Mercat Encants, the City Council built a brand new plaza where there are permanent kiosks and lots of space for plenty of merchants.
And so my first revisit to Barcelona was indeed successful! Read Part II for my next adventure: oohing and aahing at more of Gaudí’s amazing architectural gems.