If you consider yourself a foodie and you're ever in Barcelona, I highly recommend you visit the Mercat de La Boqueria!! We ended up there twice in one day (breakfast and dinner) and again for breakfast the morning before our flight to Lisbon.
The market has existed since 1217 and features an array of stalls, including sweet smelling fruit stands with freshly squeezed juices in every colour imaginable (even neon pink and mint green); seafood stalls with plenty of fish from the sea (including oysters the size of my head); meat stands with melt-in-your-mouth ibérico ham (a Spanish specialty); and candy booths featuring gourmet chocolates and massive gummies. As the place mat pictured below says, "if unicorns existed this is where you would come to buy them". It is truly a paradise for all senses!
The market fills up fast with tourists who seem to play bumper cars as they gawk and take pictures of each stand's beautiful set-up and unusual offerings. We made sure to arrive early for our first visit to avoid major crowds and snag seats at the market's legendary Bar Pinotxo, which has just 14 stools. Despite being 8:30AM, we enjoyed a plate full of chickpeas and glasses of ice cold cava (Spanish champagne). Let me tell you...we dreamt about these chickpeas that night and couldn't resist going back for another plate the next morning! They're served hot and have a bit of a sweet flavour. I couldn't quite pick out the ingredients but I think it was a mixture of sausage, raisins and balsamic. Muy Bueno!
For a mid-morning snack we ventured over to another bar called El Quim so Dev could try their famous huevos con chipirones (baby squid with two fried eggs). While I don't think I could have personally devoured an entire plate (especially not for breakfast), I do have to admit it was surprisingly delicious!
We enjoyed our morning and the food we tasted at the market so much that we decided to go back for dinner. This time we sat at Bar Central for a variety of seafood and some server entertainment. While we didn't opt for the fresh lobster (holy moly they were expensive) we did enjoy some garlic shrimp, scallops and razor clams. Neither of us had tried razor clams before and although they scared the crap out of me when the plate was first placed in front of us, I am happy to announce that they were a hit! To me they taste a bit like a shrimp/mushroom hybrid (if that would ever be possible).
As you can probably tell, La Boqueria was definitely the highlight of Barcelona for us! Don't get me wrong, the touristy spots were cool and interesting to see, but the food and vibe of the busy market definitely won us (and our bellies) over.
Here are some other photos from our time spent in Barcelona:
Can you spot La Sagrada Familia in the background?
Tapas! Just one plate of many...
We decided not to venture into the century old basilica, famously designed by Gaudi, because we were switching hotels this day and therefore had to lug our bags around. The scale of this church, however, is magnificent...even from the outside! And while it verges on being ugly, it is actually pretty majestic.
Beach + Seaside Dinner
Exploring the Gothic Quarter
I have mixed feeling when it comes to the Spanish "siesta"...
I'm a Nap Queen and I embrace any chance I can get to snag some beauty sleep. But it was quite frustrating to find shops closed at random, especially in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona every afternoon. For example, one day we were on the hunt for a restaurant we had seen on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and it was basically impossible to find. I had a screenshot of the address and even plugged it into Navigon, but we found ourselves walking in circles trying to find the place. Feeling quite annoyed and ready to give up, we decided to ask a policeman who pointed up the street to a spot we had walked by probably a dozen times. We didn't recognized the place because it was closed!! We should have been more observant and paid attention to the store signs, but instead we walked aimlessly for what felt like hours. Lucky for us, they were just beginning to open.
For the record, the restaurant is called Can Conesa and they serve sausage on a bun, which is cooked on a super-hot panini press before being dressed. They were tasty but not quite worth the 25,000 steps we clocked looking for the sandwich shop.
The churro bakery we found along the way, however, was 100% worth the aimless wandering! I got a giant one filled with Dulce de Leche and it was ahhhhh-mazing!!!!
Chicken curry empanada
(DELICIOSO...we went back for more)
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the first post in this little European Adventure series. It features photos from the first leg of our trip, Paris!
Stay tuned for the next and final destination: Lisbon.