Since E. was attending a music festival with some of our friends just outside the city, I took the occasion to go and spend a long weekend with my brother who lives there.
The following places to visit and where to eat and drink are a mix of my own wanderings and also where I shared some of the weekend with E. or my brother.
The museum itself displays an impressive collection of Pablo Picasso’s work from his formative years. I had picked a Friday morning to visit and it was rather quiet, This meant I could fully enjoy spending time admiring the various paintings (without people posing for selfies in front of it like I have seen in so many other museums...). From his very early work as a young artist to the Meninas series, the museum offers a great selection of Picasso’s art with enough variety to please people favouring a style rather than the other.
After my visit to the Picasso museum and a small lunch at El Xampanyet (which turned out to be on the same street), I meandered a bit around the El Born and El Gotic quarters. My walk took me to Parc de la Ciutadella and through many little streets where I spent some time looking at architectural details, pretty balconies covered in greenery, small murals here and there, and a multitude of little shops and places where to eat.
In the area of El Born, you can also visit Museu de la Xocolata. I did not go on this occasion but I visited it many years ago. If you love chocolate as much as I do, you might want to add it to your list. I would just suggest to not go there hungry or if you do, treat yourself to a cup of rich hot chocolate at the end of your visit.
On the Saturday, my brother and I took the funicular then a minibus to Tibidabo, a mountain overlooking Barcelona. The weather was great, clear and sunny which meant we had a great view of Barcelona from up there. There was a public holiday while I was visiting that weekend, meaning there were a lot of people out and about, especially around the Tibidabo Amusement Park. We were there mostly to enjoy the view and walk around a bit. We skipped the crowds waiting to go to the various attractions and headed back to the city so we could get some delicious churros and chocolate sauce at the Churreria San Roman (Carrer del Consell de Cent, 211) after our walk.
I was walking towards Parc de la Ciutadella when the wonderful smell of roasting caramelised almonds attracted me to the little turron shop La Campana (Carrer de la Princesa, 36). I love Spanish turron and this place was heavenly. It was definitely pricier than other brands around but the flavours were really wonderful and delicate. The nougat confections in many varieties are made at the back of the shop and wrapped in pretty packaging. Since it was early December, I got a small selection to add to hampers as Christmas gifts and some of my favourite (the jijona variety) for us to enjoy with tea and coffee at home.
You will probably think it is very crowded when you arrive there for a bite and try some of the delicious things on offer but finding a small space in the busy tapas bar Quimet & Quimet (Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25) is worth it. I went there on the Friday night with my brother and we stood in a corner enjoying a glass of white wine and a few tapas: foie gras with black volcanic salt, pan con tomate (not the usual style you will get in other tapas bars, this one is a thick rich tomato paste on toasted bread and a small dollop of black olive tapenade on top), sea urchin and my favourite, smoked salmon on yogurt and drizzled with truffled honey. There is no seating in the tapas bar so we only stayed a little bit before heading somewhere else for dessert. Quimet y Quimet would be a perfect stop if you are planning to try a few other tapas places in the area.
On Sunday morning, I took a small walk on my own before meeting with E. for lunch. I had breakfast in mind but not just any regular one. What I had planned was a small trip to Xurreria J. Argiles (Carrer de la Marina, 107). This churros food truck is located near Parc de la Ciutadella. I showed up at a rather quiet time when only a couple of people were standing to get their order. I got a few small churros in a paper cone and a cup of the most delicious smooth chocolate sauce. I sat nearby in the sunshine and enjoyed my ‘breakfast’. I have been dreaming about those wonderful churros since then.
After eating those delightful churros, I met with E. and we walked towards the area of Barceloneta to have lunch in Pez Vela (Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 19 - 21). Despite being in a very touristy area and you might expect as much of a restaurant on the seafront there, the place was packed with locals. Groups of friends and families were chatting at tables where a whole lot of delicious looking food whetted our appetites the moment we walked in. We decided to get the chiringuito menu as we were quite hungry after our stroll to get there. It consisted of a glass of wine per person first. We picked a refreshing Spanish white wine since it was quite warm that day. Then, we had starters which consisted of pan con tomate and a bowl of mixed salad. They were both delicious but the salad was particularly lovely: lettuce, tomatoes, green olives and white asparagus topped with a nice vinaigrette. Afterwards, we were served a dish of squid, prawn and clam paella to share. The rice was perfectly cooked and the dish met my expectations (which were high after a disastrous paella my brother and I had the day before in another part of the city). Dessert was definitely on the wonderful side of things with a jijona nougat ice cream I still think about. We sipped our tea and coffee while enjoying our sweet treat before heading back in the sunshine and finishing a beautiful long weekend in Barcelona.
Listened to: podcast My Favorite Murder
Book read: ‘Killing Commendatore’ by Haruki Murakami