Category Archives: Barcelona

Hotel review: Arc la Rambla

Our hotel in Barcelona, the Arc la Rambla, was right on La Rambla, so a great central location right, between Port Vell and La Boqueria. Luckily, our room was towards the back of the hotel so it wasn’t loud at all. Plus, there was even a sundeck on our floor, which came in handy when Daniela’s laundry in the sink session went terribly wrong.

The best part about the hotel is that it has air conditioning – a necessity in Barcelona’s 100-degree summer weather!

Overall, our room was clean, quiet, air-conditioned and had a large bathroom.

But we did have an unexpected visitor the last day – a huge cockroach! We ran out and grabbed the cleaning lady, who started off acting calm and collected, spraying the roach with some kind of bug spray. But when the roach went on the run, even she panicked! Luckily she kicked him out of our room and we slammed the door shut. Needless to say, we carefully checked all our bags and inside our shoes the rest of the trip to make sure no other unexpected visitors tried to catch a ride with us.

From pintxos to pescado: good eats in Barcelona

I had two of my best meals in Barcelona – it’s definitely becoming one of my favorite cities for eating!

Our first dinner in Barcelona was mediocre, just some basic tapas at a restaurant in Placa Reial near our hotel. Although the entertainment, consisting of very athletic men doing acrobatics in the square, was cool. And we did meet a fish scientist sitting at the table next to us. Apparently, there was a fish scientist convention in town – and I did hear that Barcelona gets a lot of conventions.

Our second night in Barcelona, we headed out to Barri Gotic to go tapeando. Wandering around those winding streets is fun, it’s just impossible to find anything more than once! Luckily, we stumbled across a yummy wine and tapas spot for our first stop and had some great tapas with salmon, chorizo, etc., with rioja wine.

Then, we traveled down a few somewhat shady streets (it was dark by this time and you never know where one path will lead) and eventually found another tapas spot that was awesome. The long bar was just lined with pintxos that you can choose yourself. You just keep the toothpick from each piece on your plate to pay at the end. I was so glad we had an authentic tapas experience!

Our last day in Barcelona, we had dinner at a nice seafood restaurant in the older port area. Shockingly, I ordered a codfish dish that I loved. The restaurant was called El Emperador, so I ordered the codfish “al emperador.” It was lightly battered and fried, in a garlic sauce with a tomato “sauce” on the side. The food was so good, and paired with a summery white wine and the beautiful scenery, the whole meal was perfect!

Barcelona by bus: part 2

Tanning on the Bus Turistic

Our first day on the Bus Turistic, we used it for touring the city. Our second day, we used it for transportation and tanning (and a little bit of touring).

First, we walked down Passeig de Gracia to visit Casa Batllo. I didn’t end up going in though, because the 16 Euro price tag was a little more than I wanted to spend on something I had already seen. But looking at it from the outside, I couldn’t help but wonder how much Gaudi’s work has influenced Barcelona’s culture and aesthetic style. Even looking at brands like Desigual, they’re pretty visual and different. Or is there something inherently different about the people in Barcelona, that they have a particular perspective of the world?

Casa Batllo

After Batllo, we got on the bus. We got off at Sants Station to buy our train tickets to Madrid. We opted for the Estrella night train, even though several online reviews advised against it. I had taken it before, and Daniela was down for it, so we went ahead and booked it. Except this time we got bunk beds.

Having crossed that off the list, we had the bus take us to Port Vell again. There, we did what we do best – shopped some more. Then we walked to the older part of the port and had an awesome dinner.

Dicking around at Barcelona's older port area

After dinner, we braved the heat (as if we had a choice) and walked back towards La Rambla. But not before one last detour to – what else? – shop. Although, once again, I showed what I consider to be remarkable restraint in not spending money.

At that point we still had some time to kill, so we went by our hotel to do the other thing we do best – drink some wine!

Struttin’ our stuff in Park Guell

One of our stops on the Bus Turistic was Park Guell, the famous park designed by Barcelona’s star architect, Gaudi. Of course it was ridiculously hot so by the time we climbed up the hill to the park, I was literally dripping sweat. Nothing a little ice cream couldn’t fix.

But that sure didn’t stop me from recreating my America’s Next Top Model moment – this time on video! And I look damn good doing it, if I do say so myself.

Daniela also, somewhat reluctantly, took her turn on the catwalk.

Barcelona by bus: part 1

Our second day in Barcelona, we hopped on the Bus Turistic to see all the sights. The bus was a necessary strategy to see everything within our limited timeframe and to make it across the city in the extreme heat! On day one, we managed to visit:

  • Park Guell – more about that here
  • Palau Reial gardens near the university – nice, but not my favorite stop on the route
  • Futbol Club Barcelona’s stadium
  • The Contemporary Art Museum (well we didn’t actually visit the museum, but we took the escalators & stairs up for the panoramic view of Barcelona)
  • Olympic Stadium
  • Port Vell -where we found a place to lounge in the sun along the pedway
Pedway at Port Vell

We also at least got to drive past some of the other big tourist attractions:

  • Gaudi’s big three (or at least that’s what I call them): La Pedrera, Casa Battlo, La Sagrada Familia
  • The World Trade Center (shaped like a boat, kind of)
Barcelona's World Trade Center, although not at a good angle to see how it kinda, sorta looks like a ship

We finally felt like we were back on track to being successful tourists!

Spain is for shopping

Our first day in Barcelona, we were feeling quite exhausted from the easyJet fiasco, but were re-energized by the city’s shopping scene. We hit the streets and immediately checked out some of Spain’s main shopping destinations:

  • Desigual
  • Paramita
  • Corte Ingles
  • Bershke
  • Zara

Spain is definitely the place to spend your money! Shopping here is just more affordable and accessible, and the clothes have a certain character. And there are plenty of funky sneaker shops, which I got to visit firsthand as we hunted down a pair of adidas sneakers for Daniela.

If you’re in the mood for non-accessible designer labels that most of us can’t afford, Passeig de Gracia is the street for window shopping stores like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.