Barcelona is, like every big city, filled with crowded streets, smelly smokers, and tourist traps. Our job is to yes, go to the tourist traps, but also discover local eateries. That’s where we come in.
Day 1: La Rambla, La Boqueria, and Museu Picasso
We arrived at Barcelona at 9:00 in the morning (“we” meaning Mommy, Karsen, and Anya, as well as 大 E-po and 小 E-po).
Being very jet-lagged but having plenty of time to roam the city, we decided to visit Las Ramblas, a (yes) tourist trap, but also the main street of the city, with shopping areas, muses, and markets.
One of the most famous markets is known as La Boqueria, a very busy market selling everything from fruits, smoothies, to iberian ham (iberian ham, for those who do not know, is a special [very VERY expensive- though not as expensive in its hometown, Spain,] ham similar to prosciutto). La Boqueria is also very well-known for its restaurants- bar-style.
Lo Boqueria and La Rambla: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
The most famous restaurant in La Boqueria is called Pinoxto (Pinocchio). You are considered lucky if you get seats there. We got five!!! Here’s a traveling hint: always go to busy restaurants during their off hours restaurants when worried about stealing a seat. Here is a picture of the people who served us at this very small (yet STILL very busy- even at off hours) bar. Three years ago, Papa and Mommy came here to the same restaurant- and saw these same people! In addition to the traditional Spanish croquettes (one stuffed with fish, the other with meat – and unpictured), we ordered two very delicious dishes: a squid ink “rissoto-like” dishes and chickpeas. Pinoxto: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
After stopping to get quick smoothies at a stand, we departed for the Picasso museums. 1 euro per smoothie, and they were well worth it- freshly squeezed and all. Anya got coconut, Karsen and 小 E-po got pineapple coconut, and 大 E-po got mango-coconut. Mommy (strangely), got some VERY sour lemonade.
Verdict: Anya’s was the best. (DUH!!! Of course!)
The Picasso museum is supposed to be a national treasure because this was Picasso’s homeland. We went into a very long line just to get in the entrance. The museum was pretty good, showing many of Picasso’s earlier works and later transitioning to his later works. However, value for money was not as good. The museum was much smaller than we originally imagined based on the line and amount of people. For a first time in Barcelona, everyone should go just for the experience.
Picasso Museum: 😀 😀 😀 😀
Day 2: Sagrada Familia
Now less jet-lagged, but only slightly, we promptly woke up at 11:00 in the morning and had the E-po’s waiting for us to wake up. Before going to the Sagrada Familia, we stopped at lunch at Tapas 24, a renowned tapas restaurant, though touristy. We ordered the patatas bravas, one of Spain’s specialities; however, it was a disappointment. The potatoes were not quite crispy enough- and we all know how important that is. We also ordered the bikini (haha yes we know), which was recommended to us by our waiter as the house special and is essentially, a truffle sandwich (what’s not to like?) The bombas is also a Spanish speciality: a fried mashed potato with a meat filling. This, needless to say, was also a rather disappointment; it was just not quite there. This dish in Spanish is known as ous estrallast al gust. Everything at this restaurant was overly salty, and nothing was absolutely on the spot perfect. This dish was only half-finished, since we over-ordered, and nobody wanted to finish anything. This dish is known as the valencia paella-very hot, fresh from the oven. This was the pasta of the day- very flavorful, very good, but still-too salty. Filled to our stomachs, we then bounced off to the #1 tourist destination in Spain.
Tapas 24: 😀 😀 😀 1/2
Anya had done previous research on the Sagrada Familia, and gave everyone a briefing before we went in. The Sagrada Familia was by far the most beautiful church any of us had any been in. Construction started in the early 1900’s and will be complete in 2026 (the centennial of Gaudi’s death). The architect: Antoni Gaudi, Spain’s heart and soul. When completed, it will be the tallest church building in the world with 18 spires. We bought special tickets online to see the passion facade, of the three facades (Nativity, Passion, and Glory-Glory is still being built). The entrance is sculpted with intricate designs, sculptures, angels, and the columns sit on turtles and tortoises- representing things set in stone, whereas the chameleons, in contrast, represent change. And when you get inside the church you are simply overwhelmed with a feeling of serenity you cease absolute movement and gape above you (this comes from experience- YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!). The columns inside the church are supposed to resemble trees and branches, and boy, do they. The stained glass (rainbow colored) depicts stories from the Bible. When you look up- you see fruits! You look up to the columns, and they have names on them- names of the apostles. You see a bronze figure, representing Jesus ascending to heaven. The Sagrada Familia, being Gaudi’s most famous work and the number 1 tourist attraction in Barcelona, is where Gaudi himself is buried. There is a museum there dedicated to him, as well. A school was also built in Gaudi’s design for the workers’ children and local people. The wavy roof is typical of Gaudi’s style. We took an elevator to the Passion Facade, and took the stairs on the way down. You could see everything in Barcelona from a 360 view up there- at the very top of the spires. At the top of the spires, creatively, is fruit- all different kinds. The doors of the church were adorned with words from the gospels. The word “Jesus” is outlined and pushed further towards us in the rest of the door. Sagrada Familia: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 – This is a must-do in Barcelona. Everyone agreed that this was the most BEAUTIFUL church we had ever seen.
For dinner, Anya had researched and researched and researched until she found the right restaurant- located right near the beach. After strolling on the beach for a while, we finally found La Cova Fumada (the place that Anya had found), a family owned restaurant for a grand total of 70 years. Our waiter, Carles, arrived, told us what was good, and ordered for us. No menu nothing. This is the local way. Long story short: we ate. we ate. we ate. we ate. it was fabulous. The first thing that came was the bread with aioli and the bread with tomatoes. The first thing that comes to mind is: “Geez! How do they make the butter here!?” Since this place is so close to the ocean, their seafood is very fresh. Not getting seafood in Barcelona is like not getting seafood in Japan. These are razor clams- very good- especially with the butter on top! This is the octopus- the sauce was good to sop up with bread! The squid. Not as good for sopping up the octopus- but flavor wise, WAY better. Codfish- a tad too salty- maybe the worst thing we ate- but still delicious. We also got codfish with tomato (as opposed to butter sauce). This was mediocre, not as salty though. After the codfish with tomato, we had the shrimp. Everybody knows how much Karsen loves shrimp. He ate the entire thing- shell and all. The head, the egg (?), everything. CRAZY!! Here is a picture of Anya- the more normal one (obviously). At La Cova Fumada, each guest gets a bomba (fried mashed potato with meat inside)- their house speciality. Turns out this bomba was much better than the one at Tapas 24, which none of us could finish. One for each of us- and delicious. We also learned a particular way to eat a bomba- you mash it (like a mashed potato, spread the sauce around, and wallah! Our waiter, Carles (dear that he is) got us a picture with the chef outside. HOORAY!!! La Cova Fumada: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 – this may be our FAVORITE meal in Barcelona and very affordable – VFM as bhuya would say (value for money)
Day 3: Montjuic Castle, Palau Nacional (National Art Museum), and the Magic Fountain of Montjuic
First thing of the day: Barcelona’s famous paella (paella is a famous rice dish that is cooked for hours in a delicious sauce, had with seafood). But first a little other something: When we decided that we hadn’t had enough vegetables over the trip, we ordered asparagus- a HUGE mistake. No wonder the Spanish don’t cook too many vegetables!
It was determined by the will of the group that these mussels were better than La Cova Fumada’s. Does this make up for the terrible asparagus? Ok, maybe not a “little” something. We also ordered prawns. Yes, Karsen did his thing again.
We also got paella- since this place is most well-known for paella. Paella is a rice dish that is cooked in soup for the day, usually served with seafood.
After taking the Metro to Montjuic, we went on the funicular at the very top of the hill to Montjuic Castle- originally a fortified castle-primarily for defense against invaders. Later, it was turned into a place for torture; now it is a military museum. Cannons- everywhere. Most people probably visit Montjuic for the views- at the top of the hill, you can see the whole city! After eating some ice cream at a local stand we headed over to the art museum (always Anya’s favorite). The Art Museum is also very well known for its architecture- Spanish Renaissance. As much as we like Spanish Renaissance, Contemporary is much preferable. We took some pictures of our favorite pictures, but our pictures weren’t as good as their pictures. First, we went to see the Contemporary exhibit. All of our favorite pictures were in the Contemporary and Renaissance section; they are most well known for their Renaissance and we love Contemporary.
Now this picture is especially significant because it is one of Picasso’s most famous pictures (and also because Karsen drew it for art class). It is of Picasso’s long time lover, Dora Maar, from which many of his pictures are based. To the Renaissance and Gothic sections: Onward, ho!
Unbelievable- they have so many Christian paintings it would take up all the memory space on this computer. It feels like they took a church and ripped it inside out! Here’s a hint for future reference: When a little boy asks you if Jesus is Superman (which could or could not be Karsen), never answer.
We even got a free music concert- right near all the paintings (apparently it was this guy’s final exam). He was very good, and Mommy complimented him on his performance afterwards. Palau Nacional: 😀 😀 😀 😀 1/2
The Magic Fountain of Montjuic attracts tourists everywhere. This light show is even better than Belaggio, according to the E-po’s.
Magic Fountain: 😀 😀 😀 😀
Day 4: Park Guell and Dos Palillos
Dos Palillos is a one michelin star restaurant that fuses Asian (primarily Japanese) and Spanish cuisine and (drum roll please) has its roots with THE El Bulli. Here is a link: http://www.dospalillos.com/
For variety, Karsen got the kid’s menu (which he only said yes to because it didn’t even sound like a kid’s menu at all) and Anya got the adult menu. Apparently, if you are “not” hungry, then you get the Dos Palillos menu. WRONG!!!!! You will be completely sick to your stomach with delicious food having a party in your tummy (Yo Gabba Gabba reference) all day and won’t want to eat anything else.
Let’s do Karsen’s (shorter, better) menu first. The first thing that came for him was the welcoming cocktail. It was Karsen’s first Virgin Mojito, a non-alcoholic mojito, and he loved it.
Next was the wontons- three with a tad of sauce on the side. As you may already know, a wonton is a type of dumpling typically used in Chinese cuisines. This wonton was one of the best wonton’s Karsen had ever had. The outside was slightly crunchy, and the sauce matched it perfectly.
The next dish was the worst one throughout the entire kids menu-rollito de pollo crujenta, or a crispy chicken roll. However, Karsen doesn’t like chicken very much, so maybe his opinion is biased. The smashed peanuts around it were a little overdone and too crunchy, and everything else just wasn’t quite right.
Then, the start of the really really good dishes started. The lotto o gamba, or 3 shrimps, arrived next, already peeled and with some crunchiness mixed into it, it was the best shrimp Karsen had on this trip.
Following that was a very Japanese-style dish- temaki de atun. Basically a make-your-own sushi, this dish was delectable. They give you 3 pieces of fresh tuna on rice, and 6 pieces of seaweed on the side. You wrap 2 pieces of seaweed around a tuna and some rice, and eat it in 1 or 2 bites. After that came the smallest burger Karsen had ever had- the Japanese burger. The perfectly toasted bun is like the bun with Peking duck, except with some sesame on the top. The meat is perfectly cooked, and the sauce went with it really well. Perhaps the reason why Karsen loved this so much was because it reminded him of Peking Duck.
Subsequently (SUBSEQUENTLY??? That must have been a dictionary word, guys) came the yakitori, Japanese grilled chicken, and, despite being perfectly cooked, was Karsen’s 2nd least favorite because of his distaste for chicken.
Finally, the last, and the best-dessert. Dessert was a mochi-like outside-soft, squishy, and warm liquid chocolate inside. This creates an explosive reaction inside your mouth, as you must eat it in one bite. The adults got this too- let’s see their reaction.
As a whole, Karsen thinks the kids menu is the most sophisticated kids menu he’s seen, and is very impressed. The size is just right, providing the perfect lunch.
Karsen did that section all by himself! I (Anya) put in the Yo Gabba Gabba reference by the way.
Our welcoming dish (the adult one that I didn’t have- but tried) was a fruity passion rum drink. Ours- again a virgin mojito- was delicious as well. Here is a picture of the adult welcome drink.
As in all great restaurants, they gave us something to eat first to quench our taste. All that pickled?- it DEFINITELY quenched our taste, let me tell you.
The jellyfish came out first- spicy- slightly crunchy. Not for everybody. For foodies, this is a good choice.
Now this- believe it or not- is white asparagus (trust me, it is WAY better than the one we had eating paella). Also, it is topped with some dried soy sauce- which, amazingly, it does not make me want to puke.
Ok- this was probably one of the best things we got.
On the top of the picture is ankimo, or monkfish liver, and shitaki mushrooms. On the bottom is mackeral and (see those tumbleweed things?) seaweed.
Here is a dish that looks absolutely beautiful but is only for those who have refined taste. Seaweed, mollusks, and sea snail.
The pork neck. For our faithful sophisti-kid readers this pork neck is very similar to Roka Akor’s, a sushi-grill restaurant in Scottsdale.
This is the crab- one of Mommy and my favorites. This soft-shelled crab os served with warm white sushi rice and melts in your mouth- just like uni!
This is a warm coconut, although it doesn’t look like it. Inside is coconut meat with peanuts, and a delicious coconut gel. When most people think of coconut, they think cold, fresh, fruit, and Hawaii. This dish is quite the opposite- warm, meaty, and a little spicy.
Yes, this is the same burger that Karsen had. Apparently it is a very popular item on the menu. JAPO BURGER!!!
And now.. to the dessert. We had 3 desserts- shaved yuzu, mochi with orange essence, and the same chocolate dessert Karsen had, only his was better because we had chocolate ice cream in ours instead of his warm filling.
The shaved yuzu- my favorite dessert- came first. It’s like shaved snow, but with yuzu and not condensed milk. When you put the snow in your mouth, keep it on your tongue for a couple of seconds, an d by then, it will have already dissolved.
The next dessert was the orange essence. Mochi with red bean< mochi with orange essence. They got it right.
Now the worst of the desserts- but still delicious- chocolate gumdrop. Ok, they don’t really call it a chocolate gumdrop, but I do, because that’s what it seems like. Put it in your mouth, and it explodes. Just like that.
Anya: 😀 😀 😀 😀 1/2
Karsen: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
We took the Metro to Park Guell, also built by Gaudi, like the Sagrada Familia. Unfortunately, from the time my parents went there, some parts were closed off.
It’s okay though: we could stills see the gumdrop houses below- just like Hansel and Gretel.
The view was also spectacular- you could see our hotel from there!
The rest of the park was also very similarly structured. Lots of pathways, trees, and bridges. It is a very beautiful park just to stroll around. Maybe next time we’ll bring food and enjoy a quick lunch watching the scenery.
Park Guell: 😀 😀 😀 😀
The next day we departed to the noble city of Paris, happily eating macarons.
Barcelona, being the first time we went there, was a very memorable experience. Some of the highlights of the trip were Sagrada Familia, La Cova Fumada, and (for Anya), the National Art Museum.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to look for our next post: Maison de la Truffe.