Remember when we were discussing surprises?
I was telling you all about how difficult it was to surprise me, how I absolutely love being surprised, yet can’t help but fiercely play detective in efforts to put the clues together. However, had the amazing surprise of dining at the top of my beloved building earlier this month. Well, I was soon stumped again and left seriously doubting my Sherlock skills.
I was told we were going away for the Bank Holiday weekend and persisted relentlessly for clues until I was given five countries: France, Portugal, Turkey, Spain or Denmark. One by one, with deductive reasoning and a cleverly laid trail of breadcrumbs, which I foolishly lapped up, I cracked the case. We were going to Turkey. I was so pleased with how clever I had been, that I considered purchasing a shiny badge and maybe even a hat for the trip. I packed my bags at midnight with an early flight and settled in for another night of insomnia, this time riddled with excitement. But then, it was decided the surprise would be revealed. With the grin of a five year old completing a magic trick to an audience of knowing adults, I opened the tickets. This was immediately followed by a gasp, a look of disbelief and my shouting BARCELONA?!
We left at the crack of dawn and sparing you the predictable travel details, we arrived in a moody, overcast Barcelona. After arriving at our place, we threw all our things in the room and quickly changed into something a little more comfortable for the incredibly muggy weather before setting out for a casual wander. Instantly distracted by delicious looking pastry shops, I decided the need for tapas was imminent. Those of you unfamiliar with tapas, wait, you’re unfamiliar with tapas? Let me sit down. That is just wrong. Inhumane, really. Tapas, and I don’t say this lightly, are the best. Their literal translation defines them as different snacks and appetisers ordered to share. This is my absolute ideal way of dining. I know you may think I eat a lot, okay I do eat a lot, but I love nothing more than little bites of lots of different things. And if these things happen to be amazing Spanish dishes, well then I may just consider never leaving.
We soon stumbled upon Obarazal. A tapas bar in the front, lined with stone faced men gossiping over their cervezas, leading to a bigger restaurant in the back. The bar was filled with a colourful array of traditional Spanish tapas, such as seafood salad, meats, cheeses, artichokes, tomatoes and more. Big legs of Jamón Ibérico hung overhead, dripping fat into their precisely placed cones. We took a seat ready for a feast and in true Spanish form, we were ignored whilst staff lazily danced around each other, making espressos, wiping glasses, chatting away. I eventually put on my best smile and flagged someone down. Shocking my Spanish skills into action, I began ordering plates to try, asking for recommendations and enquiring as to which dishes were his favourite. We settled on delicious, spicy albóndigas with a tomato sauce. Unattractive, but tasty Croquetas de bacalao or salt cod croquettes. A plate of Spanish gold, jamón Ibérico. And a bunch of baby octopus, grilled on the plancha and simply dressed with garlic, olive oil, salt, lemon and parsley. Which made me very, very happy. Having gotten distracted so soon and now stuffed to the gills with tapas, we continued on our wander down to the marina. On the way, we discovered some of Barcelona’s infamous graffiti. And some skate boarders trying to film their latest tricks before the sky opened up. We made it down to the marina and the sky grew ever more ominous, but the rain continued to hold off, making the air thick and salty as we neared the ocean.
In a little square nearby, a market of cool odds and ends were being sold. Everything from old cameras, to vintage jewels, to obsidian elephants, to rusted horse shoes and more. I kept being told off for taking pictures, so only managed to sneak a few for you.
This box is my absolute dream. If it weren’t for the baggage weight limit, I would’ve scooped up this entire collection of keys. I have a weird fondness for unusual keys as I like imagining what types of doors they open and what lies beyond them. Or maybe they open a chest filled with old photos, or letters or treasure.
We continued to explore the city, admiring sights, artwork, architecture and design. We arrived at the beach, watching cyclists being blown down the boardwalk and trees swaying in the wind. We decided to head back through the towering buildings in search of shelter and obviously, more food. We soon discovered Enrique Tomas, a jamóneria with walls of Ibérico ham. I could go on and on telling you about this beautiful cured meat. How the big, black pigs live in oak studded pastures, gobbling up acorns whilst being caressed by mountain air. How you can tell the difference between Ibérian and Serrano ham by the ‘pata negra’, or black hoof, which is left on during the curing process. And how this delicacy is hung to cure for at least 12 months and often more than 2 years. Instead I’ll tell you that we ate some, and it was glorious. London meat lovers will be excited to hear, they will soon be making their way to our city streets. Stay tuned to their website to find out when and where.We left with our bounty, scurrying down streets and ambling down alleyways until coming to this beautiful plaça.
Tucked in the corner was the darling Bastaix. So darling in fact, we decided we needed to stay awhile.
Which resulted in, you guessed it, more tapas.These Ibérico wrapped prawns were increible. Followed by a delicate, but beautiful plate of ceviche with mango. We nibbled until the sun went down and eventually decided to make a move in search of something sweet. Before we left however, I took one of my favourite pictures of the trip. There’s another one that I can’t wait to share with you, which is definitely a firm favourite, but this one seems pretty special, as well. There’s something about the way the little boy is stood there at the bottom looking up at this towering piece of metal holding a flame and I can only begin to imagine what grand, incomprehensible thoughts he’s pondering. Intoxicated by the thick, Spanish night air and a few too many tapas, I followed a ‘feeling’ I had about a particular passageway and have never been more pleased by my intuition. At the end of the street was a beacon of pastry. Bubó stood gleaming, its doors opening to a world of all things patisserie and sugar.
Including an impressive macaron case, of which we ordered one of each and greedily consumed until giggling and sugar high.I’d like to tell you that the evening ended shortly after, with us tucked up in bed, resting away the pains of travel in preparation for a long day ahead. Instead however, the weather had other ideas. We began our long and much needed walk back to our home away from home. With another half hour of walking to go, drops began to fall from the sky. This was amusing in our sugar infused state and somewhat welcome as the temperature finally began to cool. But as we continued walking, the sky opened up and water began bucketing down from above. The kind of rain that you expect to stop momentarily, because there’s no way that the sheer force of downpour could be sustainable. And yet, it went on and on and on until we took shelter in a glass box which led to an underground parking structure. After half an hour, I made it my mission to hail down a taxi. Standing on the side of the road, I waived my arms wildly at any car with a green light. After another half hour, completely soaked through, our saviour finally pulled over and rescued us from the rain.