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    A few musings on Barcelona (in conjunction with Thomson Cruises)

    5 years ago we visited Barcelona.

    We spent a long weekend exploring the undulating architecture of Gaudi, nibbling pintxos and soaking in the sunshine. Hours were spent admiring the incredible Sagrada Familia arches, we meandered along the city beaches and rode the furnicular up into the misty peaks of Montserrat.

    Thomson Cruises contacted me recently about sharing a new video series that Larry Lamb has filmed, where he meets a host of ‘cruise mates’ sharing their home cities of Barcelona, Ibiza and Palma. They have genuinely inspired in me one of the most wonderful problems of travel blogging; to return, or not to return.


    It is one of the cities I have regrets about – there were experiences we missed and places we ran out of time to discover. Travel shouldn’t be about box ticking – and a series of fateful roadsigns seem to be pointing me back to Barcelona to delve underneath the surface of this vibrant Spanish city.

    We nibbled our way through delicious cuisine, discovered for ourselves whether Gaudi was a genius or a mad man (I say both in equal measure) and saw all of the tourist highlights. But, we didn’t get under the skin of this famous city.

    5 years of travel experience later and more than a soupçon of inspirational research, who knows what could be discovered (not to mention photographed with a much better camera.)

    Oh, Barcelona.

    A native man sang in a foreign tongue,

    I still ache to know the song that he sung,



    Barcelona.




    Have you visited yet?


    Thomson Cruises kindly sponsored this post (interspersed with my own Barcelona photos) in order to keep our wanderlust strong and the travel fund topped up for future fun and blog posts coming.

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    The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona #travelthursdays

    The Sagrada Familia, oh how we adored thee. We started our adventures in Barcelona with a walking tour of Gaudi’s most famous works and our tour guide asked us: Genius or Madman? (Warning, you may want to make a cup of tea and get a biscuit, this is quite a photo heavy post, sorry!)

    Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism. His architecture reflected his passions of architecture, nature and religion. (Wikipedia)

     

    He created/modified some of the most amazing buildings, using nature as a basis for everything he designed. The Sagrada Familia was his masterpiece, and is still not finished nearly 100 years after his death, even though he spent the last 12 years of his life exclusively working on it.

    We spent nearly 5 hours to wander around. It’s really funny, we meant to spend a couple of hours max (including the tower tour) but it just sucked us in.

    The Passion Façade:

    The Nativity Façade

    Up the on the bridge between the Nativity Facade towers:

    Park Güell: (great views over Barcelona, and fantastic to take a picnic to)

    Personally, I think he was both a genius and a madman, in order to be great you have to think outside the box.

     

    Hint: book your entry tickets online in advance – the entry queues are phenomenal otherwise, and book your tower tour when enter the site!

     

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    Barcelona, Spain – Food glorious food #travelthursdays

    Whenever travelling, we like to try a variety of local and tourist delicacies. Spain when exploring it a few years ago was no exception. My best ever, ever tip is to have a list of the things you want to try, and if you can, try and avoid the touristy traps as you normally get ripped off and eat bland rubbish food.

    We nibbled our way through delicious cuisine whilst soaking up the sunshine of the barcelona beach, exploring the glory of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, strolling the world famous La Boqueria Food Market and climbing the breathtaking and mysterious Monserrat.


    Pinchos (aka Tapas): These are delicacies speared with a toothpick and are generally eaten whilst socialising. I love this idea of this, and they are fairly filling too – most are speared to a slice of Baguette and you can great really creative with them – I think I’m going to make my own at some point. The restaurant charges you based on the number of sticks (, literally pinchos translates to “thorn” or “spike”) you’ve used so it can get fairly pricey if you’re not careful though…

    Football Crisps: These cracked me up – they’ve taken promotional gear to a whole new level – we saw crisps (or as they are correctly called Chips – in the UK they are called, wrongly I might add, crisps), sweets, cheese – all emblazoned with the two main team insignias.

    Proper Continental Breakfast in the craziest hotel breakfast room I’ve ever seen: Cold Mushroom Tortilla, Ham, Spiced Sausage, Chorizo, Mozzarella, Bread, Vegetables, Fresh Fruit.

    Picnicking Barcelona style en plein air: So good. Chorizo, fresh bread, cheese, sausages, salad, cucumber, red pepper.

    Paella: Proper homemade paella, rich and unctuous with Prawns, Mussels and Chicken. We found a proper off-piste local bar where they didn’t really cater for tourists and we don’t speak Spanish (apart from the really really basic words) thinking that we’d end up eating good food, and boy were we so right. I ran out of battery, so didn’t get any pics sadly.
    
    
    Tortilla with Potato and Tomato Passata: So simple, and yet so good – this one was a basic Bubble and Squeak, but the Passata was so scrummy and cut through the creamy fried mash potato.

    Flan(?) & Creme Catalonia:

    A combination I must remember – scrummy chicken burger patty with asparagus and apple – a combo I’m going to try at home!

    Ending with Xocolata Chocolate at Montserrat, infused with liquor made by Benedictine Monks since 1206:

    Verdict?

    Sadly no Sangria as I was on antibiotics, but hubby assures me that is was delicious, and refreshing; as were the beers. We were on holiday, how could we say no?

     

    Have you been to Barcelona?

     

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    Barcelona, Spain #travelthursdays

    We started with a walking tour of his most famous works and our tour guide asked
    us: Gaudi – Genius or Madman? (Warning, you may want to make a cup of tea and get a
    biscuit, this is quite a photo heavy post, sorry!)

    Antoni Gaudi
    (1852-1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism.
    His architecture reflected his passions of architecture, nature and religion.
    (
    Wikipedia)

    He created/modified some of the most amazing
    buildings, using nature as a basis for everything he designed. The Sagrada
    Familia was his masterpiece, and is still not finished nearly 100 years after
    his death, even though he spent the last 12 years of his life exclusively
    working on it.

    The Passion Façade of the Sagrada Familia

    The Nativity Façade

    Up the on the
    bridge between the Nativity Facade towers:

    Sorry that was so
    Photo heavy – the buildings were just out of this world. I think he was both a
    genius and a madman – you have to be both to be great I think.

    Top tips:

    • Pickpockets are disgustingly rife. Be wary of anyone who speaks English to you or gets too close especially on the tube. Make sure everything is zipped securely.
    • La Sagrada Família: we took 5 hours to wander around. It’s really funny, we meant to spend a couple of hours max (including the tower tour) but it just sucked us in.
    • Best tip we were given? Book your Sagrada Familia entry tickets online in advance – the entry queues are phenomenal otherwise, and book your tower tour when you enter the site.
    • Definitely catch the cog train/furnicular to Montserrat. It’s gorgeous.
    • Try Pinchos. You pay by how many sticks there are on your table

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