Things to do and not do in Barcelona

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Being a noob in Barcelona, naturally my experience was going to be hit and miss. If you’re planning to go, learn from my mistakes! We did well on some things, though. Here is a taste of both the latter and the former:

Pintxos and Oysters at Orio

Orio specialised in oysters and pintxos, which is a variety of bar snacks very popular in northern Spain. The oysters here are shucked in front of you and are absolutely delicious. Served simply with lemon juice and tabasco, these oysters were the freshest I’ve ever tasted and needed nothing more than the two simple condiments. The pintxos was great, too – the highlights were tuna tart with artichoke, marinated peppers, anchovy fillet and fish roe, and the foie gras croquettes.

Boqueria Market

I love markets as much as the next guy, and there’s nothing better than a market on an overseas trip, particularly when it’s cheap and fresh and diverse and buzzy. This boasted super fresh seafood, fruit and veg, lots of pintxos, olives stuffed with everything imaginable, cheese and of course jamon, and the weirdest egg stall I’ve ever seen, which had everything from quail eggs to ostrich eggs. Worth a look, and to go to the seafood bar, Universal, that I’ve spoken of in a previous post.

Xavier Coll at the Palau de Musica

Xavier Coll blew me away, in the beautiful ornate setting of the Palau de Musica. The soft spoken and humble guitarist described each guitar and each song he performed, which ranged from flamenco to baroque music. He often sang as well, and apologized for his voice, even though it was bloody good. His playing of the Spanish guitar was the best. He was able to fill the huge theatre with music, and his virtuosic guitar skills often made it sound like he was playing four instruments at once.

Pelleas and Melisande at Gran Teatre del Liceu

This opera was PAINFULLY boring. Debussy is wonderful, but I think he should have stuck to the pentatonic piano compositions and avoided opera altogether. The monotony of the music just didn’t do it for me, and even the Gran Teatre del Liceu website describes the plot as “slow-moving” and the characters as “passive”. Add to this the overly minimalist sets and choreography and the confusion of an English-speaking person trying to decipher an opera in French with Spanish and Catalonian subtitles, and you have the makings of an excruciating experience. Avoid.

El Reloj Grupo restaurant

Another Barcelona experience I won’t miss. This bar made great mojitos, but the tapas all tasted like it had come out of a jar in 1988 and had been left on our table since, whic really it’s a good way for octopus to taste. It was right outside this beautiful old church and we should have smelt “tourist trap” from te beginning, but were too gobsmacked by our surroundings to notice. The service was rude and took advantage of the tourist vulnerability like no one else. Again, avoid.

Schilling

This bar/cafe was in a great old building with high ceilings and warm decor in Barri Gotic, and boasted great coffee, friendly service and cheap drinks/food. Also, unlimited free wifi for those of us that feel the need to check Facebook and Instagram every five seconds.

Also, Gaudi architecture and the Joan Miro museum are fantastic, but I won’t bore you with a pretentious rant as it’s dinner time. Adios!

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