Month: December 2014

2014 in pictures

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Picture 2Thank you for reading my blog this year, here’s to more adventures in 2015!

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Thoughts on food: Barcelona

Barcelona is a great place to visit in December. Admittedly I haven’t visited at any other time of year but the sky was blue, the air was crisp and the queues for the main attractions were long enough to convince me that I’d rather not visit in the summer. The food in Barcelona is also perfect for chillier temperatures. Throughout our stay we managed to sample lots of culinary delights and I’ve listed my favourites below…

Note: I’m based in a rural Spanish town which only serves regional food. As a consequence we wanted to make the most of Barcelona’s international offerings because we were in desperate need of a break from tortilla and jamón.

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Milk. On the first day we visited Milk, a cosy cafe which serves delicious brunches. The menu was extensive; think American pancakes, French toast, full English breakfasts, Greek yogurt and granola. Authentically Spanish it was not, but comforting and tasty it most certainly was and, after an early morning flight, it was just what we needed.

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Kapadokya. Another restaurant we visited was a Turkish place on Rambla del Raval in the center of the city. The menu was slightly confusing so we were all a bit unsure what we ordered but our hasty choices paid off. The portions were huge and all eight of us loved our meals. For me, Turkish food is always a winner and their falafel was the best I’ve ever tasted. It was amazingly cheap too!

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La Bouqueria. This indoor food market is located just off La Rambla, one of Barcelona’s main streets. The market is made up of a circular formation of stalls with a huge fish section making up the central ring. As you work your way outwards there’s meat, fruit, vegetables, bread, pastries, sweet treats, smoothies and juices. It’s the type of place where locals can do their weekly shop and tourists can buy delicious snacks – there’s something for every food-eating human. The best bargain? A punnet of dates for one euro!

2Can Culleretes. You might be pleased to hear that we did taste some local food during our stay. In fact, we had a sunday lunch in Barcelona’s oldest restaurant, Can Culleretes (1786). The place was packed full of locals (a rarity in Barcelona) and the walls were lined with photos of famous customers. The waiters all seemed to be generations of the same family; we were served by the Grandmother, who was surprisingly efficient and put my waitressing skills to shame. The menu was all in Catalan so the ordering was a bit of a lottery, however we all ate well and I would definitely recommend this one.

La Pallaresa.photo 1 copy 3 Down the narrow streets of the Gothic quarter there are numerous chocolate cafes. La Pallaressa permanently has a hefty queue outside it’s door, it’s been running since 1947 and is famous for it’s chocolate and churros. We decided to brave the queue on our last evening and I’m really glad we did. As it turns out, the waiters are basically model-standard Spanish men in white shirts and bow-ties scurrying around serving molten chocolate and whipped cream. It was quite an ideal situation all in all. I’m unsure whether the popularity is due to the deliciously thick bowls of dark chocolate or the servers themselves, either way it is totally worth the 30 minute wait.

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Barcelona

I finally made it to Barcelona! This city’s been on my wish list for a long time and I can report that the wait was definitely worth it.

Eight of us language assistants took advantage of the four-day weekend and took a short flight from Seville on Friday morning. Our reason for travel? Sight-seeing, a double birthday celebration and plenty of photo-taking…IMG_8483

On all trips so far I’ve been staying in hostels, however with eight of us it worked out cheaper to rent an apartment through Airbnb. We also thought it’d be nice to be able to leave our valuables safely in our own place (Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets) and enjoy the perks of our own kitchen and living area. Also, three of us had been slightly scarred from a night in a mixed dormitory at a recent hostel in which three middle-aged men snored perpetually throughout the night, one in the bunk above me, two either side. There was no escape and minimal sleep for the price of eighteen euros. This time, for just fifteen euros per night we enjoyed a lovely apartment in the Gothic quarter – it was perfect.IMG_8492

Barcelona is relatively easy to navigate and fortunately we were staying near one of the main streets, La Rambla, so we could access lots of metro stops and visit all the monuments really easily. Some highlights of the trip (which you will see below) were of course the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, both of which were as colourful and magical as I imagined. We also visited an amazing food market La Bouqueria, wandered along the waterfront and visited the fountain at Parc Ciutadella
IMG_8527sag.jpg IMG_8580 IMG_8599 IMG_8608 BeFunky_Tilt-Shift_2.jpg1377302_10152503138992322_9007055549522543887_nSomething that I couldn’t photograph was the Picasso Muesum. It was in a really beautiful part of the city and the museum displayed paintings, sketches and sculptures in Picasso’s amazingly diverse styles. There was also a unique collection of photography documenting parts of his personal life. It was so impressive to see the variety of his work, his early paintings are SO different from his cubism phase, it felt like you were seeing the work of about twenty different artists.

We had the best weekend exploring the city. The only downside was the constant fear of being pick pocketed; you truly have to be so careful. Unfortunately one of our group, Marissa, got her bag (containing phone, iPod, money and PASSPORT) stolen whilst we were sat inside a pretty fancy restaurant. As a consequence, we experienced the delights of Barcelona’s police station at 1am and a lot of stress trying to cancel her credit cards and sort out her journey home. She handled it really well but it was not ideal and it definitely made me appreciate the safety of other cities in comparison. Fortunately, I managed to return with all belongings intact. I was the very definition of paranoid tourist and wore a my bag across my body underneath my coat. It looked like I had a deformed left hip but it’s better to be safe than sorry right?Untitled