Barcelona like a local, Girona like Game of Thrones
I’ve been to Barcelona multiple times over the years, but each time I discover new cool spots that I just have to share. I’m not going to cover the amazing architectural highlights (Gaudi anyone?), the beautiful parks, the museums, the never ending construction on famous churches, in this post. Instead, I shall focus on another cultural aspect (and my personal favorite): food. Sprinkled with a bit of drinks and shopping, for your consumption pleasure.
A completely accidental find, I must admit, and such a cool place. Set in a historic theater, you can find a diverse set of bars and restaurants under one stylish roof. The first bar on the left, usually tended by an attractive a man-bun, serves delicious concoctions such as the Moulin Rouge (two drinks in one!). Definitely worth a visit if you’re an explorer, thirsty, or just tired from shopping. Yay.
Paseo de Gracia 24, Barcelona
Words cannot describe the love I feel for this place. It’s a local hotspot and tapas mecca, so you should call ahead or even better, make reservations online. The seafood is very fresh and delicious as are the meats, croquetas, patatas bravas, pan con tomate, jamon iberico, fois gras and more. You won’t go wrong asking for recommendations from the staff; most speak at least a little English, but don’t expect small-talk, they’re very busy. I especially love the croquetas Obama (ehm, no comment on political correctness here). These are delicious, dark, filled with cuttle fish. Filete de tuna crude – also delicious. Decent selection of wines and lovely desserts as well. Yay.
C/ Muntaner 171, Barcelona
Barri Gòtic – El Raval: Walkable tour of brunch, beer and bombelone
The MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) is a great starting point for our little tour. If you’re hoping for a discussion on the blurred distinctions between high and low art, the integration of pop culture, reckless borrowing without credit and the general recycling of cultural icons…then I am terribly sorry but you need to look further. Instead, this post is about the stuff next to the MACBA. I’m not sure why I love sitting outside of the MACBA, next to an unofficial skater range and people watch, but I just do. At cafe Kino you can get good coffee, try the cortado (Espresso with a foamy little milky hat) or a Clara (Beer with Lemon soda, similar to Panaché or Radler for folks form the german speaking parts of the world). All the waitresses have a grungy-chic style, which I personally love (go Ramones). Perfect for a lazy afternoon, reading a book, or catching up with a friend – this a sweet spot to do it. Yay.
Carrer de Ferlandina 23, Barcelona
Very cosy brunch place, friendly service and super large portions perfect for a hang-over, or champions breakfast. Delicious cold drip coffee and the occasional hipster. They also have their own craft Beer. What’s not to like? Yay.
Carrer del Pintor Fortuny 31, Barcelona
Always in search a good novelty t-shirt, we stumbled upon this gem while trying to escape the touristy mess that is La Rambla. Hidden in the Barri Gotic, this cute store has tons of interesting shirts made of Portuguese preshrunk cotton. It’s a bit of a hipster heaven with the occasional deconstructed bicycle or camera, but I love it. Great for bringing a souvenir back home that doesn’t suck! Yay.
Carrer Elisabets 5, Barcelona
If there’s one thing I love more than trendy umlauts in product names, it’s chocolate. This place combines both! Very cute little concept bakery & chocolaterie. This charming chocolate boutique is a feast for the senses: lovely assortment, bright colors, the smell in the air, and of course tasty creations – absolutely amazing. Various flavors of donuts (the bombelone for example filled with chocolate), vegan options and truffles. There are pretty chocolate bars, which also make great presents (don’t worry, we won’t tell if you get them for yourself). Yay.
Carrer del Carme 3, Barcelona
Recommended for Beer only, if you want to eat here then try the Flammkuchen. It looks super touristy from the outside, but it’s beaming with locals and tourists alike. The beer is great, atmosphere loud and lively. Great spot to grab a drink before heading to dinner. Be sure to visit the basement (on the way to the loo) and you’ll find yourself immersed in a 60’s style beer themed acid trip. You’ll know what I mean when you go. Yay.
Ronda de Sant Antoni 39 – 41, Barcelona
A mere hour north east by train, in fair
Verona Girona, where we lay our scene. For Game of Thrones fans this is especially interesting, as you’ll immediately recognize the setting as Braavos (no spoilers don’t worry). It’s a charming medieval town, deeply Catalan with a few highlights to experience. The massive Cathedral of Saint Mary impresses with it’s baroque facade and sheer size (and cameo on GoT).
Then there are the various bridges of Girona (11 to be exact) and one in particular might remind you of another famous European icon. It was built by Gustave Eiffel, as in Eiffel tower. Interestingly Girona is also a foodie destination, but some of the places we experienced were very underwhelming, or the service exceptionally rude (this is what happens when you follow random reviews people. I’ll focus on the highlights:
For those unable to get reservations at Celler de Can Roca, welcome to the club, they are booked a year in advance. But don’t be too sad, as this place is a concept ice creamery from famous dessert chef Jordi Roca. It’s very cute, there’s friendly, attentive service and unique flavors to try out, like Baked Apple. Just to be sure that it’s really good, we went back and also tried their sorbet. Worth a visit. Yay.
Completely randomly stumbled upon this tiny little museum, very well curated and informative. If you’re looking for a different kind of siesta, then take a 1 hour break in this lovely Museo during the hot afternoon. It offers a thorough history (in an air-conditioned environment) of film, starting with ancient shadow plays in Asia, the invention of the camera obscure, the Lumière brothers and more. Fun interactive stops liven up an extensive collection of all sorts of cameras and equipment. It’s also an amazing value, for a mere 5 Euro. Total gem. Yay.
Stylish, minimalist decor and lovely service make this restaurant worth a visit. We ordered the tasting menu coupled with wine pairings. This is where it gets a bit tricky to describe, as some dishes were excellent, and others were so-so. There’s a heavy asian influence throughout the otherwise catalan tasting menu (lots and lots of roe for example). A few dishes felt a bit pretentious but overall a culinary highlight in Girona. The service was excellent, the waiters explaining each dish and very generous with the wine tasting. If you’re in town, worth a visit and better than some hyped restaurants nearby. Yay.
One of which I shall very briefly mention:
Famous for their diner setting on ancient cobble stone stairs (also on Game of Thrones for this reason). Sadly, despite the lovely ambience, we didn’t enjoy our visit to this hyped place. The rude service and mediocre food were truly disappointing. Laudatory reviews are abundant for this place, so by all means feel free to give it a try, but from our perspective it was by far the worst meal of our trip. The duck, pizza and monkfish were all meh. Winter is coming.