Barcelona

By Team Kalamwali in Experiences
Updated 13:19 IST Jul 28, 2019

- BY EESHA PATWARDHAN.

 

We walked through the bylanes of Barcelona on a windy sunday afternoon just soaking in the sights and smells around us. It seemed strange that all shutters were down and most cafes had no patrons . I thought to myself that maybe I made a mistake coming here. Maybe this is off season or maybe I booked us the wrong hotel in some God forsaken location ( Our Uber driver had assured us that we were booked at the right location) . It was best to keep quiet and continue walking down the street ( I had already messed up on the paperwork for our Visa’s and Mr. P was not amused ). So , anyway, as we kept crossing every block , it kept getting better and better. Slowly people ( mostly locals ) started surfacing. Surely that was a positive sign. Google maps kept guiding us and we kept blindly following it . Google maps cannot be wrong, can it?

After a few more streetside cafes and some stores with the cutest knick knacks, we walked into this tiny square besides a Medical College. There was a water fountain bang in the centre of the square . It was almost like an oasis . Having walked atleast a few kilometres by now, it was about time we stopped for a cup of coffee . Even the coffee in Barcelona ( cafe con leche ) tastes better. Having refuelled on caffeine , we set off to explore the streets of La Rambla. Each cafe was unique and so was its window display. Some had their glassware on display , others had art , some even had eggs and old cooking utensils in their window display. It was clear that locals take pride in beauty and in dressing up not just themselves but also their merchandise.

As we continued walking through this visual feast , we saw some sort of ongoing fete . Some tents lined up , a huge crowd , wine glasses ( always a bonus ) and food being churned out . Mr. P , the surveyor , decided it was best to walk along the periphery first . We started with first selecting our wines to drink ( good idea) . Most of us know of French Wines and Italian wines and now Napa Valley wines but Spanish wines , not so much. Well , we were pleasantly surprised with the vast selection of wines. Rioja Wine is native to Spain and is full bodied and robust. Another local wine is Cava , or sparkling wine (Cava is refreshing, light and slightly acidic). Having tanked up on ample amounts of wine ( they were VERY generous with portions of wine ) we moved on to some life changing food experiences. We tasted potato gnocchi with organic vare cheese and shaved summer  truffles ,  bonito filet with garum sauce and kalamata soil , Pork Bao ( not spanish but it was still yummy ) , marinated iberico pork pluma and el put cheese, baked octopus with bacon & chimichurri red quinoa and tender pork belly with salsa . Gluttony got the better of us for sure. Slightly inebriated from the several glasses of wine, we thought it would be best to sit down till the world stopped spinning ( wine can really hit you ).  Being stuffed to the brim did not stop us from indulging in gooey nutella waffles ( totally unnecessary and yet so delicious) . A 45 minute LONG walk back to the hotel where I literally dragged my feet ended our first day in Barcelona.

I love you already Barcelona. Please don’t make me leave.

On day 2 we thought its best to be touristy and ride on the hop on hop off bus . Not before grabbing a bite at a local chain Enrique Tomas for a typical spanish breakfast of slow aged iberico ham on bread along with a cup of cafe con leche. On the tour , we managed to pretty much breeze through the main tourist hot spots – La Sagrada Familia , FC Barcelona , Park Guell , Casa Mila , Casa Batllo , Placa Catalunya and La Mercado Boqueria . The highlight most certainly was the Mercado . We must have  spent what seemed like hours at La Mercado Boqueria. It is a visual feast and definitely a mecca for any respectable foodie. There were stalls after stalls of smoked meats,  fresh fruit, condiments , spices , chocolates, cheeses , a fish market ( surprisingly not fishy smelling ) , fresh meat market , wine shops and what not.I felt as though I had died and landed up in foodie heaven. El Quim de la Boqueria was where we had lunch and judging by the crowds thronging this tiny bar/eatery right in the middle of the market , it was the right choice . The food was incredible, the wine even better . The 2 chefs and the other staff were holed up in a tiny workspace not much larger than shoebox . From there they were serving around 20 patrons seated around a bar . It was a nice place to meet with other fellow travelers from around the world, all so curious to try out authentic Catalan cuisine. All in all , I would rate the visit to La Mercado Boqueria as one of my life’s best experiences and a must visit when in Barcelona.

Our evening started out in typical Spanish style , late . The Spanish like to  eat meals late and as they say when in Rome … So we stepped out after having scouted some of the best Tapas bars in our vicinity . Tapas is not a cuisine, its a way of eating or a culture. Spaniards eat small bites or tapas along with their drinks and they make sure to visit several Tapas Bars in one evening. Tapas comes from Tapa ( cover ) which was used to cover drinks in the olden days to prevent flies from falling into your glasses. The tapa would usually be a piece of bread with some toppings and hence the name Tapas came into existence.

Barcelona turns into another city at nightime. Its all lit up by fairy lights hanging daintily on the awnings of cafes along the street, people dressed in fine clothes and waiters laying out the best cutlery and glassware as locals line up for their daily evening ritual of wine and tapas. Also important to note that each Tapas bar has a special signature Tapas , that way every bar has a unique identity all its own.  Our Tapas trail for the evening went well as we savored some delicious tapas such as olives, deep fried anchovies, gambas ajillo , patata bravas , sardines and the absolutely lip smacking padron peppers.

We enjoyed our Tapas bar hopping so much that we decided to continue the same the following evening. This time our choices were bolder and the the drinks were plentiful. I finally had my first original Sangria ( only to realise what I usually made at home and served guests was just plain horrible) . Our last night in Barcelona was spent hopping through bars , eating some very power packed food and gulping it all down with glassfuls of the red luscious fruity Sangria.

Barcelona you delivered on every promise. A city of culture, architecture, natural beauty, friendly people ,great food and just this lovely vibe. You are forever imprinted in my mind.

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