Barcelona

Rome Vs Barcelona

I’ve been to Barcelona twice and recently come back from Rome (I’m a lucky girl!) and really enjoyed them both.  I think Rome was my favourite but there’s plenty to do and experience in both cities.  There are a lot of similarities too, but some differences…

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Rome                                    Barcelona

Both cities are historic and full of beautiful architecture.  But not much (in Europe) beats Rome for antiquities, some of the structures in the Roman Forum date back to the 7th century BC.  The city of Barcelona purportedly dates from 250 BC but some of the most striking architecture in Barcelona was designed by Antoni Gaudi from the 19th century.

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Rome                                 Barcelona

One of the reasons I liked Italy better than Spain is because getting vegetarian food was sooooo much easier!  Of course it depends where you go but there wasn’t a single place in Rome that I struggled to find a delicious option, and it’s hard to go wrong with pasta, cheese, and pizza.  On the other hand I spent most of my time in Spain buying overpriced cheese sandwiches.  But it did force us to find some vegetarian restaurants and get some dedicated veggie cuisine.

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Rome                                    Barcelona

Of course I visited the Olympic stadiums in both cities.  As you can see the biggest difference between the two places is that Rome was ridiculously hot and in Barcelona it was pissing it down.  It’s hard for me to remember the Barcelona stadium without just thinking about how soggy it was.  We couldn’t go into the Rome stadium which was a shame, especially because it’s kind of out in the sticks but at the least the stadium is still being used for football matches.  In Barcelona, it all seemed somewhat neglected.  But there is a little Olympic museum next door and terrible cafe.

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Rome                                Barcelona

And both cities had odd quirky things, Rome had a elephant statue while the good people of Barcelona were keen on cats.  And I like standing in front of animal statues and pointing.

 

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Postcards from the Olympics

A while back I shared the postcards I had received from Europe, but there are a few more that are Olympic themed.  I have been trying to visit as many Olympic stadiums as I can, not all have little gift shops but I picked up a few along the way.

olympics

I picked this up at the London Olympics (the 2012 ones not the 1948 ones…but all the contemporary postcards were awful I seemed to recall).

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My 5 Favourite Places

Here are my favourite five places from the last few years of traveling.

  • Mljet, Dubrovnik, Croatia

The whole holiday was awesome, but the island of Mljet is particularly beautiful.  Most of it is a national park so it’s very green, we rent bikes and rode around the island until we reached a swimming lake which was a lot of fun to swim in.  You do have to pay for the ferry, and to enter the national park, and to rent the bikes if you want them so it did get more costly than anticipated.  Still I recommend.

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5 Best Things About Barcelona

  1. Monserrat.  The mountain is about 1hr outside of Barcelona and offers amazing views of the city.
  2. Cafe Camilla in Gracia. A Veggie cafe in the hipster part of town, what’s not to love.
  3. El Carmel Bunkers.  It’s quite a trek to site of the old bunkers used during the Spanish Civil War as anti air-raid batteries.
  4. Parc Guell.  The amazing park designed by Gaudi with mosaics a go-go, great view of Barcelona but now you have to pay 😦
  5. Cat Bar.  It’s a cat themed veggie restaurant, with pictures of cats everywhere.
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Barcelona veggie restaurant

I found La Cereria on the ole trip advisor, it was the 2nd highest rated veggie place (the first being rather more pricey and needing reservations) and we headed down the windy streets around Las Ramblas to check it out.
All tables were set up in twos and the capacity was only about 16 people but its a veggie place in Spain! Our waiter/the owner was doing everything single handedly so the service was slow at times but he spoke great English and had English menus for us.

La Cereria I ordered the rice, black beans, and guacomole which was nice. Although it took me a while to figure out the sweet taste in the guacamole was banana, presumably to replace the cream as it was a vegan dish. I remained unconvinced about banana guacamole. Boyfriend got cannelloni which he liked, and a glass of red wine which he liked more. It all came to about 27euros.

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Barcelona off the beaten track-veggie cafe in Gracia

Being a vegetarian in Spain is a difficult and noble challenge. I think in the more rural areas they chop them up and add them to the tortillas, whilst listening to flamenco music.
Anyway, without tracking down some veggie places I would been restricted to patatas bravas (brave potatoes, wedges in slightly spicey sauce) and tortilla sandwiches (that’s an omelete sandwich and its weird).

Barcelona- Cafe CameliaSo I found Cafe Camelia in Gracia, Carrer de Verdi. It was very cute, with cloth placemats and camelias painted on the wall tiles. I got the quinoa veggie burger which came with a couple of potato and parsnip wedges. Boyfriend went for cheese pizza which he said was nice but too small. I find portion sizes hard to predict in Spain generally. I got a nice roobos tea and boyfriend got fake cola, and it all came to less than 22euros.

Afterwards we wandered through Gracia back to Las Ramblas passing a few vintage and whole food shops- this was hipster territory!

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Barcelona- Off the Beaten Track; Parc del Laberint and El Carmel Bunkers

Both boyfriend and I had visited Barcelona previously and done the usual tourist things, so I decided to find a few things to do in Barcelona that were off the beaten track.
Parc del Laberint d'HortaWe headed out to Parc del Laberint d’Horta near the university, and Mundet Metro station. It, as you may have guessed, is a park with a labyrinth in it.  The park is 2.23 euros to enter fully and there are some nice fountains, pavilions, and woods areas to see.  The eponymous labyrinth is a bit lackluster to be honest, but its a nice park especially if you want to avoid the tourist crowd.Parc del Laberint d'Horta

El Carmel BunkersCollages4Our next stop was to the el Carmel bunkers. During the Spanish civil war an air defense thing was put on top of the hill (Barcelona is hilly).  Subsequently, it was used as barracks and then as shanty towns after ww2. So you can trek to the top of the hill and see the remnants of the structures, and an epic 360 view of the city.  It’s quite a climb to get up there so get your walking legs on!

Once again there was hardly anyone there.  It is also quite close to Parc Guell which was mobbed with tourists as usual. Surprising since you now have to pay 8euros to see the main chunk of the park- basically all the gaudi mosiac bits. The wooded bit near the top is still free and I got to spend 10mins queueing for the toilet, then we left.

Parc Guell

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Nice Architecture Abroad

Here’s a few buildings from my travels that I liked, including Park Guell in Barcelona, Gdansk Town Hall, and the old town of Dubrovnik. nice buildings

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Barcelona- Monserrat

MontserratThe best part of our trip to Barcelona was visiting Montserrat.  The mountain is about an hour (by train) outside of the city, the train takes you to the foot of the mountain but included in your ticket is either a cable car ride or a funicular railway.  We took the cable car to get the awesome views going up, and they really were awesome.

At the top of the mountain is a Monastery, there is also a hotel, canteen, and shop where you can buy cheese made by the monks, as well as a host of souvenirs and some terrible postcards.

Montserrat

It was quite hot and boyfriend dragged me on a walk up the mountain which was really tiring but enjoyable!  We also had a little looksee in the religious bit and saw some nice candles before leaving to avoid the crowds of pilgramiging tourists and having to pay to go inside.  We got lunch in the canteen, which had few signs in English, or signs at all as is the Spanish style, so I got a cheese sandwich and coke which was significantly impressive than our glorious surroundings.

Montserrat Barcelona

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Barcelona- Park Guell (Gaudi Park)

Park Guell was our first stop in Barcelona, it’s also known as Gaudi Park because it was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi (he’s most famous for designing the Segrada Familia church, but his name crops up on quite a lot of buildings in Barcelona!). There’s a little museum and shop, but we just wandered around the free part of the park in the hot hot sun.

Day one2Barcelona is very hilly and, in getting to Park Guell, we ended up going up an escalator that stood in the middle of the street- the first and only time I’ve seen an outdoor escalator like that!  But once you’re up there you get an amazing view of the city and the sea which can be seen from the large plateau surrounded by palm trees and stalls.

Day one1Day oneBehind the plateau is a woody area on the hill which you can walk through, and there are quite a few people selling things on the floor.  At the top of the hill is a columned structure where people were dancing.  There are also fantastic ginger-bread style buildings that house the museum and shop.  Everything is covered in tiles and mosaics, including lizards that stand at the base of the steps.

Day one1

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