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    Spain: Foodie Penpals September

    Sangria dappled sunlight, incredibly organic architecture and steaming roadside cauldrons of Paella greeted me from my doorstep this month.  All in one compact parcel wrapped in packing tape. Not bad, eh?

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    Every single month I wrestle with the thought of poking through my favourite foodie shop for another batch of goodies into the post for my Foodie Penpals. Every single month I am then overwelmed by the wonderful consideration my penpal – in this case the lovely Katie – takes to prepare a scrumptious packages of goodies for me in return. Every month I then write a post remembering just how much I adore Foodie Penpals.

    This month was no exception.  I always ask my penpals to send me a taste of home, and in this case it was a delectable selection from Katie’s second home Espana. Full of spice, sizzling flavour, exotic recipes and very few particles of Gluten, my parcel was transformed into a scrumptious weekday meal that transported us back to our last visit to Barcelona – Paella, food of the gods.

    Oh, and crowned with my absolute favouritest (is that a word?) flavour recipe ever!!

    Not all of the ingredients quite made into the dish, but enjoyed in al fresco bite size chunks by my husband shaped mouse. Absolutely delicious – thank you again Katie it was the best slice of late summer sunshine I could have wished for from the Postie (though I’m a little worried that my packages might start being delivered with nibble marks – that’s how good it smelt!)

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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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    Barcelona, Spain – the must-see Tourist Attractions

    I just had to share with you the other places we saw that were amazing. This will be my last post about Barcelona, I promise.

    Sagrada Familia: No question, this place is incredible.

    Park Gaule: Fantastic place to wander, watch the parrots and take a picnic.

    The La Boqueria Food Market, off Las Ramblas (a tourist attraction in it’s own right):

    Take a half day trip to Montserrat – you can do this easily by train or with a coach tour:

    Nb: Definately catch the Furnicular/Cog Train up to the Monastery:

    Listen to the oldest established boy choir in Europe and explore the Monserrat Basilica:

     

    Explore Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter – discover all some of the nooks and crannies:

    Check out the Barcelona Cathedral:

    … say ‘Hey’ to the 13 Geese there

    See some Picasso artworks in the Museum and on the buildings:

     

     Above all, enjoy the amazing weather, the tasty Tapas, Slurp Sangria and relax. We also managed one of our 101 in 1001 – no phones, no internet for 4 days.

    Really good Tip: Pickpockets are rife on the Metro; don’t have you valuables easy to snatch, try and keep to the middle of the tube trains (Pickpockets tend to haunt the ends as they can get away quick) and above keep a really good eye out. If someone stands really close to you or asks something out of the ordinary (especially in English) be really aware that they may be pick pockets.

    We really enjoyed Barcelona, it’s a great city break.


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