Before we embarked on our Mediterranean cruise, we arrived in Barcelona early to explore a bit.
It was a sensual place – summer downpours that made the Gothic architecture slick and glittery under city lights. An azure sea that dotted our paella with its fresh offerings. And everywhere you went, locals were at leisure. At 10 pm you’d find them languid at sidewalk cafes. They’re laughing with their children, sipping sangria and enjoying a long dinner followed by a cigarette.
Whether you’ve been to Spain or not, you’ve likely enjoyed tapas at a restaurant. Eaters beware; Spain knows you enjoy tapas, and restauranteurs will charge an arm and a leg for the tiny plates. Darlings, put your menus down.
Be savvy and do what the locals do. Order the menu del dia (daily special). You will be brought course after course of their freshest food and drinks, as the menu changes daily. You’ll enjoy just as much variety for a fraction of the price. In fact, you will never be able to finish it!
All tourists in Barcelona visit Via Rambla, the main strip of commerce that ends at the sea. While there’s plenty of shopping to do, I recommend ducking into the farmer’s markets. See the locals haggling and squeezing melons, enjoy street food from the vendors and buy gifts that are more authentic and reasonably priced than what you’ll find at a souvenir shop. I much prefer handmade Spanish chocolates or a tiny box of saffron to a porcelain bell with the word “Barcelona” on it.
Of course, don’t forget to eat Papas Bravas (spicy potatoes) and drink sangria. In Spain, they like to add a kick to it and always add Sprite. In fact, when you order the menu del dia at any restaurant, it automatically comes with red wine and a Sprite, which is meant to be mixed.
La Sagrada Familia is spooky and ominous, a must-see. And while in the neighborhood, don’t miss Cal Ramon Braseria. The spunky owner is free in-house entertainment and his generous menu del dia will not disappoint.