¡Me encanta Barcelona!

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I absolutely adore Barcelona. The last time I was here I did all the touristy stuff: visit the Sagrada Familia (which still remains one of my all-time favourite architectural structures), have a picnic at Park Güell, see a game at Camp Nou and stuff my face at the La Boqueria markets. So this time round I wanted to really experience Barcelona like a local (but of course continue to stuff my face with juices, fruit, seafood and bolognese calzones at La Boqueria).

My friend has been living in Barcelona for a few months now so she showed me a few hidden gems you might not see if you’re a tourist. She showed me the best churros place off Las Ramblas – Xurros de Xocolata – I highly recommend it. It was like €1.20 for 100g of freshly fried doughy chocolatey goodness. Delish.

If you’re after a nice meal and some wine to go with it, check out Els Quatre GatsIt’s also just off Las Ramblas (I love how everything is within walking distance!) and they have both tapas and restaurant food. Of course I sampled both and can say they’re both scrumptious. It’s a little bit more expensive than your average feed, but worth the experience. Els 4 Gats, as it’s also referred to as, was frequently visited by Pablo Picasso’s early in his art career. So if it’s good enough for him, well, you know.

For something with a bit more value for money you can’t go past Restaurante Pitarra – €13 for three courses. Ridiculous. And they’re not even skimpy sizes either, I’m talking big, generous-sized portions. And I finished them all (but not without some difficulty). From the classic seafood paella to cannelloni to flan, it’s well worth your last buck. Oh and did I mention the meal comes with a free bottle of wine? I know, ridiculous. God I love Europe.

And if you’re really trying to save then Cien Montaditos is your best friend. It’s like a euro for a sandwich so you can order like eight plus a litre of sangria and still be under €10. And on some days it’s buy one sandwich, get one free. It’s a student paradise. Pretty much ate here most days/nights because there’s so much on the menu and it’s just so bloody cheap.

Drinks-wise, I highly recommend Le Cyrano. It’s a self-service bar that really gives you a bang for your buck. For about three euros you can order a mixed drink and control your own ratios. And by control, I mean go crazy. And when you leave they give you bottles of water to sober up. What lovely people.

If you’re more a pub-type person and love your tapas, fùtbol and ceverza, then I suggest you head to L’Ovella Negra. I was there for the UFC final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid – the atmosphere there was intense. Even if you didn’t follow the sport you’d find yourself yelling at the screen, your friends and randoms. It’s awesome.

My Spanish this time round was much better so found myself conversing with a few of the locals – one of the goals that I had for this trip. And by converse with the locals I mean talk about food and ordering food at restaurants and markets. Oh and asking how much things cost.

The shopping in Barcelona is unbelievable – I spent over five hours by myself walking up and down Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya. Armed with a backpack and a thirst for a bargain, I stumbled into about seven different Zara stores, convincing myself each one was different from the previous. And then you’ve got the usual European suspects: COS, & Other Stories, H&M, Mango … Oh my.

I ended up buying more or less the same things I already owned – lots of black, denim and stripes. Typical.

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