Winter Sun: Barcelona

(January 2012)

Christmas 2011 was dawning and still I didn’t have a clue what to get Rich as a present. Every time I asked for an idea, he said “I don’t want anything”. (Yeah right!) So, five days before, I decided that we should re-live our Spanish adventure from September, this time heading to the capital, Barcelona.

Ideally we wanted to travel between Christmas and New Year but as usual, the prices were extortionate compared to every other time of year and so instead, we decided to head out on 6th January for two nights. I returned to my favourite trusty travel site – Lastminute.com and found a deal departing Friday afternoon from Gatwick and returning late in the evening on the Sunday for just £160 each!

City break or beach break?

Travelling in January, I was expecting nothing more than freezing cold weather and packed accordingly. We arrived early evening on the Friday and after finding our hotel, (an hour metro ride from the airport and half an hour from Las Ramblas) we headed out wrapped up in jumper, scarf and jackets.

We jumped off the metro to Monumental and took a short walk down to the Marina where we were spoilt for choice with the restaurants lining the main street. We finally settled on a place that had a three course set menu for around 10 euros and swiftly ordered a jug of sangria. A bowl of mussels, delicious seafood paella and an ice cream later, we decided to head back to the hotel for an early night, ready for a big day of sight-seeing the next morning.

Full from the hotel breakfast, it was time to head to Las Ramblas, but not before I had checked out the beach. Again, despite seeing the sun shining outside, we’d wrapped up warm expecting the freezing cold temperatures of the night before. But as we strolled down to the beach we were soon peeling off the layers and by the time we arrived (just a 10 minute walk from the hotel), we were both in our t-shirts and jeans.

As always, I was keen to make the most of the good weather and so instead of catching the 20 minute metro ride into the city, we decided to stroll along the beach instead. It was around an hour walk in total but with the sun beaming down on us, we were glad of the fresh air and had the chance to discover the numerous restaurants lining the beach front.

Las Ramblas

Having read about Las Ramblas online before arriving, I was expecting more of a picturesque, cobbled old street and was slightly disappointed by the bustling modern road that greeted me (complete with its own McDonalds and Zara.) But once we ducked off the main path, I was placated by the winding side streets with tapas bars on every corner.

After wandering around the side streets for an hour or so, stopping off in every little shop imaginable, it was about time to head for lunch. Now, I usually try to avoid the main tourist street or square when picking a restaurant but a good friend had recommended a restaurant that I was dying to try (thanks Leonie) and so we headed back to Las Ramblas to Attic.

The food was just as delicious as Leonie had described. I had a tuna steak with tomato salsa and salad whilst Rich opted for the Hake with a pureed mash…mmm mmm. We left feeling pleasantly full and decided to head up to La Sagrada Familia to walk off lunch.

It was just as stunning as I had imagined and once I had taken in every nook and cranny possible, we decided to head back down to the harbour for another sangria by the sea.

Dinner by the beach

Having spotted several restaurants along the beachfront during our morning stroll, we made our way back for dinner that evening. Once again, we were spoilt for choice but Agua was standing out amongst the crowd.

The beach front restaurants weren’t exactly cheap but we decided to go all out and make it a night to remember. The food was delicious and with our table overlooking the ocean, it was the perfect spot for a romantic evening for two.

After dinner, we decided to try our luck at the casino but unfortunately we’d left our passports at home and so it was to the bars around Las Ramblas instead.

View of the city

On our final day, it was a toss-up between hiring out some bikes to cycle around the city or taking the cable car up to Montjuic to take in the views. After our mammoth walk the day before, we decided to take the lazy option and headed for the cable car.

Heading up over the harbour and then taking in the spectacular view of the city, all on the cold crisp winter’s day was the perfect way to end our trip. We sat on the terrace at the top of the mountain, sipping on a diet coke and taking in the scenery.

If it wasn’t for our rumbling stomachs, we could have sat there for hours but it was time to head back down and have our final gastronomic delight before we had to head back to the airport.

Lunch by the harbour

Compared to Madrid, we were spoilt for choice with the selection of fantastic restaurants on offer in all the main hotspots and so rather than heading for somewhere cheap and cheerful, we decided to blow the rest of our budget with lunch in one of the harbour-side cafes. The sun was shining and so it was a jostle for a prime position but we waited it out and managed to find the perfect spot in the sunshine. A final glass of wine, fresh fish and yet another ice cream filling our bellies, it was time to bid a final ‘adios’ to Barcelona.

Next up, I head for a girly break in Greece with two of my closest friends…

3 thoughts on “Winter Sun: Barcelona

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