After discovering Barcelona on foot within three days (which was totally impromptu hence not enough time for research), I thought it would be best to compile a list of places you must visit when you are in town. That way, I can be helpful while providing some entertainment too.
Before I go into the list, I have to warn you- so over the years of international traveling (for both work and fun), Trip Advisor has become my best friend which means I’m heavily reliant on it when it comes to selecting hotels, things to do, etc.; however, this time, my folks at Trip Advisor failed me… failed me good…
Since I only had three days in BCN, while looking through the site, I came across Things to do in BCN in 3 Days under their Travel Guides section. Being a royal customer, I jotted down all the places it recommended, and unexpectedly and surprisingly, although wasn’t really planned, we landed at one of the restaurants from their list called Les Quinze Nits located at one of the famous tourist spots. Funny thing is that we weren’t specifically looking for the place, just happened to be there.
Since there was no line, we decided to check it out to satisfy our hunger… and first thing we noticed was that the person behind the counter was Asian… and then the waitress comes over, who is also Asian. Yeah, I know, we should’ve known by then but felt bad to just leave without ordering, you know, so decided to stick around… reluctantly… and then the horror began.
Not only was the food awful, level of service was just beyond bad. We must have called the waitress at least three times to get us the bill, and the food literally took forever to get to our table when all we ordered was a plate of ham (which looked like it had just come out of a market-sold plastic container, not sliced fresh like at the usual Spanish restaurants), soup (tasted like canned kind), and fried cod (worst fried thing ever). But what was most bothersome was the way they were strategically (in a very sneaky way) lining people up outside.
I mean, once entering the restaurant, you’d immediately notice that the place is filled with tourists, no locals are to be found (I now know why)… but because it looks full from the outside, you become curious, you know. And I bet 90% of people who were eating there were there because of Trip Advisor, which is why I’m so upset with them. Using this as an advantage, they were lining people up outside (every single one a tourist of course) although there were empty tables. What they were lacking was people working inside and some REAL Spanish food. They advertise as if you are getting a deal on authentic food but the truth is that they are all just frozen premade stuff that can be found at a super market.
So this turned out to be a huge disappointment and the biggest mistake we made in Spain, and we were being super nice by not leaving midmeal. Really hesitated paying too, actually, wanted to tell them how horrible the food was, that it was the worst Spanish food I’ve ever had in my life (This was my second time in Spain, and I had already been there for two weeks by then just on this trip). It actually wouldn’t have been so bad if service was good, but it had neither- plus, the way they were scamming tourists was just unbelievable. (At this point, we couldn’t help but assume that they had somehow paid Trip Advisor to include the restaurant on the list.) So what did we do? As we were walking out, we announced to those waiting in line that it was the worst Spanish food ever, and that they’d regret waiting for it. Not sure if anyone listened and left but we did what we could to save them from something that could potentially ruin their day, because you know what, it did ours- yes, it was that bad. We couldn’t even sleep well that night because we felt like something bad was in the food.
but you know, the very next day, all the beauty Barcelona had to offer made it all better, and the food… I mean the REAL Spanish food helped us forget about it, which is why I’m going to share my most amazing dining experience in Barcelona as well, at a place called TICKETS BAR. More than anything however, tomorrow is a new day, right? No reason to keep reminding yourself of something unpleasant. but yeah, if you happen to be in the area when traveling Spain, please please avoid the restaurant called Les Quinze Nits! There are plenty of other options if you are hungry. Trust me!
So here we go with the list. I’m going to be quick because the central area isn’t all that large and totally walkable (if you enjoy walking like we do) so you can easily spot them on the map they give you at the reception desk or information kiosks.
1. La Sagrada Familia: A must see. Please refer to my previous post for some of the reasons why you must see this amazing piece of art. I recommend either purchasing tickets online or going early in the morning around 9 AM to avoid lines. We went around 9:30 and the line was really short. Do make sure to rent the audio kit. It’s totally worth it. You’ll miss out a lot if you don’t.
2. Parc Guell: Another work of Gaudi that’s mind blowing. A must see. It’s a bit far from everything else but we enjoyed discovering little streets along the way while walking towards South. We actually ended up taking the train to the other side of the park so didn’t get to enjoy it the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed but kind of liked observing the neighborhood. I must warn you however: a lot of walking is expected so make sure to put on your most comfortable sneakers!
3. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC): While I was a bit disappointed with a rather little number of art works, the museum itself was so beautiful we spent good three hours or so here. It turned out even more perfect because there was a mini piano concert in the front at sunset… and when it got dark, the water fountain lit up and started dancing to music, literally. I recommend going around 5 PM and staying around until the fountain show starts which is 7 PM. Then walk towards West to Parc de Montjuic which is filled with smaller museums and nature. Note: Free after 3 PM on Saturdays.
4. Parc de la Ciutadella: Wow, another one we came across rather unexpectedly, but turned out to be great, like really great. Amazing place that’s full of surprises. It’s right next to Arc de Triomf.
5. Casa Batllo: by Gaudi. Need I say more? Oh, don’t forget the audio kit.
6. Museu Picasso: If you are into art and love Picasso, do not miss this one. The line gets super long but it’s so worth it because it’s free on Sunday afternoons! Expect the waiting time to be about 1 hour.
7. Tickets Bar: Many would recommend Ramblas (a shopping street) but I personally didn’t think much of it. It was a bit too touristy for my taste. Plus, I was warned multiple times to be cautious of pickpocketers so it really didn’t have a positive image to begin with. But if you are into souvenir shopping and stuff, please feel free. but what I do recommend is to make a reservation at Tickets. I hear it’s really hard to successfully save a spot for dinner so I recommend lunch, Spanish lunch, that is. If you are not familiar, Spanish lunch starts around 2-2:30 PM and dinner around 9-10 PM, and it’s huge, I mean huge. Think ten different types of appetizers all tasting like heaven. And there is usually a main dish but you can skip it if you want. This restaurant serves something more like modernized Spanish tapas meaning more fusion than authentic. If you are more into authentic, ask the locals. Otherwise, highly recommended. And do not miss out on their olives. They look ordinary but once in your mouth, extraordinary. You will thank me.
I’m sure there are a lot of other amazing places to visit in BCN but my list ends here mostly because it’s a concise version as we only had three days there.
but do walk around the city… you will see more than what you would have seen by following so called “guides”… It’s an amazing city full of passion, energy, art, and history there is nothing to be disregarded.
but more than anything, enjoy… enjoy every moment of it.
On another note, doesn’t this ceiling remind you of this Balmain dress from a few seasons ago, say… Fall 2012 Ready to Wear? I know it’s a bit off-topic but just had to mention it because… Seoul Fashion Week kicks off tomorrow! (You didn’t see that coming, did you?)
Expect frequent updates- strictly dedicated to introducing talented Korean designers and hot trends for Fall/Winter! Now, I know you’ve been missing fashion posts!