Friday, 17 November 2017

In and Around Barcelona

The vineyards at Oller del Mas Castle

By now you all know that I love to eat food and travel as well looking at the blog and the Instagram profile and the Facebook page and the twitter account. If you don't know, I'll say it again, 'I love eating, traveling and exploring new areas and also eat food in those areas.'

I will start with a long background now and directly get to the point which was what all went into the planning for the trip. I read about where all I can visit, what all can be done and started noting down. Took me about a month to plan a 16 day trip across Spain.

The places covered were Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Valencia and Buñol. The days of my travel were divided as below -

Barcelona - 4 nights & 4 days
Seville - 2 nights & 2 days
Granada - 2 nights & 2 days
Madrid - 3 nights & 4 days
Valencia - 3 nights & 2 days

Let's begin with the first place - Barcelona.
Stayed at Kabul Party Hostel as I was alone and to be honest, the place was good. Centrally located in La Rambla which is the most happening area. Majority of the bars, restaurants and the nightlife is there.
The multi-peaked rocky range of Montserrat
Day 1 was a trip to Montserrat which is about a 1 hours drive from Barcelona. You can take a tour package like I did and I'm glad that I took it (You can check Castle Experience for the same). The tour commenced from a pickup point to Montserrat via bus. Montserrat is a multi-peaked rocky range and is mainly known as the site of Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary.

Cottage cheese and honey
Local liqueur
Post the tour around the place, I visited the small farmers market in the area nearby where you could find some organic honey, homegrown cheese and not just normal cheese, flavors and lots of varieties. One of them that I had was cottage cheese mixed with organic honey. This was pretty good and different. The cheese was crumbly but yet soft and went very well with the honey. There was also a liqueur tasting in which, you get to try 4 different liqueurs and then they give you a sweet bread which was soo soft, light and really good.

It was time for some Spanish lunch along with a tour of the local vineyard which showed us the process of how the wine is made and not to forget the wine tasting.
The lunch has some classic dishes like the Gazpacho Soup, Ham and Cheese toast, the local cheesecake and more.

This was also complemented with wine. The tour took the next step and we did walk up to the vineyard and it was good that there was this walk as it helped us digest some food. Post the wine tasting, we headed back to the bus and to the city where the tour ended at Plaza Catalunya which is the city center.

The vineyards at Oller del Mas Castle

It was already evening by the time I reached the city so I decided to explore the local area i.e. the streets near Plaza Catalunya a bit before heading back to the hostel.
A tip - Invest in a travel card there which will give you access to the buses, metros if any. You can travel as many times you want in the public transport.

Day 2 - Time to check out the beaches of Costa Brava. Here also I took a tour by Julia Travels and they took care of everything i.e. from travel to showing around and guiding with other things to see in the area.

Lloret de Mar

The tour started with reaching Lloret De Mar, walking the waterfront for some time, admiring the beach and the clean waters. Next, it was stopping in the middle of the sea with the help of a ferry/boat, it moved along with coastline in the sea and stopped so that one could actually the fishes in the water. Trust me it's that clear.

Tossa De Mar - View from The Walled In Old Town
Next stop was Tossa De Mar, this is in the north of Costa Brava and where you can go and check The Walled In Old
Town - Vila Vella enceinte which is the only example of fortified medieval town still standing on the Catalan coast. There is a lighthouse up there which is now a restaurant but you can still see the view of the beautiful sea from there.

The new Fisherman's Village street

While coming down, take the route through the town, you will see some old shops, houses and the lanes which were amazing. Eat lunch at the new fisherman's village or at any restaurant facing the beach. The food at all the places smells delicious.
The other option that you have is to go take a dip in the sea and enjoy the clean waters.

Varieties of Salts you can find at La Boqueria 
Day 3 - I like ham and wanted to try out different types of ham so visited this places - Jamon Experience located in La Rambla. You can try various types of ham and if you want to take the guide also where they will teach you how it is made and how it is cured. Just nearby this on the opposite side is the La Boqueria, its quite a famous market here and you can actually enjoy a lot of things eating, drinking and tasting if you like visiting such places. For me, it was just like a heaven filled with lots of ingredients and food.

Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
After a good time spent, it was to explore what else Barcelona has to offer.
On the list, there was Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, one great cathedral and it was huge and it was beautiful. At a walking distance of about 10-12 mins, there was Museu De La Xocolata and Museu Picasso. Do not miss the hot chocolate at the Museu De La Xocolata, it was just amazing. Go for the big cup and not the small. All art lovers have to check the Museu Picasso but remember there is always a big queue to enter. So if you have the time and patience, it is worth visiting.
Arc De Triomf
Other places on the list were the Parc De La Ciutadella, it is one of the largest parks in Barcelona, take a walk, lie down on the grass and soak up some of the sunlight for Vitamin D. If you are there go and see the Arc De Triomf and at times there are artists performing over there. I was lucky to see some of it and the music they played was really good. Take a walk and sit beside the water at Moll De Bosch I Alsina, there are some food stalls as well to eat. If you want, visit the Museu d'Historia de Catalunya (I skipped the museum).

Trophy collection at Camp Nou Museum

Day 4 - Last Day in Barcelona and I kept the important places for this day. Started with Camp Nou and this is a must visit place for all football fans. The tour of the whole place will take at least 2 hours and you get to see the field as well. DO not forget to click many pictures here :P

Camp Nou

Next on the list was a trip to Montjuïc, from here you can get a view of the town and also a view of the docks.
La Sagrada Familia
Lastly, it was one of those places that a person should not miss if you are in Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia. If you have a single day in Barcelona, then this is the place to go for sure. It is the most beautiful works of architecture I have seen. The detailing and attention to each and everything taken to make this Gaudi wonder is just mind-blowingly amazing. Each and everything that is present in the building has a reason for the same.

It has been almost 135 years and the church is not complete yet and will take more 9 years for the same. The Gothic building is a UNESCO world heritage. One can actually spend hours in the church. (My images did not turn out that good, the weather was a bit cloudy but still, I managed to click some so apologies for the not so good images here.)

This was the last thing I did in Barcelona and was off to Seville after this and to know more about that, a detailed post on Seville and Granada are coming up soon on the blog, so subscribe now if you want updates and want to know about the coming parts of the trip.

Oh, I forgot to tell you how did Spain happen and why I wanted to visit the place. There is a small backstory to it.

Like last year, how I had taken a trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok, this year for my trip I had Spain in my mind. After a lot of confusion, thanks to some friends, office colleagues (They tried to brainwash me and confuse me with multiple places).
Spain was a place I wanted to visit from the time I saw the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) (sounds filmy right ?). What they showed in the movie was something I wanted to explore, the country and the cities, understand the food there, the culture and learn more about traveling alone and enjoying.

Btw there will be a detailed post coming following this post in a couple of weeks on the individual places/cities.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

My Itinerary In Spain

The Alhambra

So before we start, I would like to mention that this is my itinerary and what all places I visited. At most places, I stayed in Hostels and was traveling via public transport or on foot but you can alter things according to your convenience and the time you have.
The total duration that I was in Spain was 16 days (including the internal transfers, arrival, and departure from Spain) and the break up for the same are as follows - 

Barcelona - 4 days
Seville - 2 days
Granada - 2 days
Madrid - 4 days
Valencia -  2 days

In Barcelona, I stayed at Kabul Party hostel located in La Rambla. You can check a hotel suitable for you. 
What all I visited in Barcelona - 
1. Montserrat - It's a Monastery located about an hour away from Barcelona on the multi-peaked rocky range.
2. The local vineyards near Montserrat along with some Spanish Lunch and a tour of the Vineyard. 
3. Once back in the city, roaming the streets of Plaza De Catalyuna. 
Tossa De Mar
4. You can take a bus from Plaza De Catalyuna to Costa Brava i.e. Lloret De Mar, take a walk on the beach and then a ferry to Tossa De Mar where you can tour the Old Town Village and the new Fisherman's Village. Lunch options are huge there with lots of varieties and good alcohol. 
5. Take a walk down the streets of La Rambla while sipping on some coffee and post that dinner can be done at a good restaurant in the same area. 
6. Ham Tasting can be done at Jamon Experience in La Rambla. 
7. Walk till the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar one great cathedral you can check it. 
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
8. All chocolate lovers need to visit the Museu De La Xocolata and then sip onto the rich, dark, creamy hot chocolate. 
9. Picasso Fan? Stand in the line to enter the Museu Picasso and enjoy the art. (I didn't have the patience to stand in line for about almost an hour and a half).
10. Just close to this is located the Parc De La Ciutadella. It's huge, take a walk, and go and see the Arc De Triomf. 
La Sagrada Familia
11. Don't forget to eat and post that sit beside the water at Moll De Bosch I Alsina. Close to La Rambla. If you want check Museu d'Història de Catalunya if you are interested in knowing the history of Catalyuna. 
12. Camp Nou is a must for all football fans. Take the tour of the whole stadium. 
13. Limited time in Barcelona? One place which you must for sure visit is the La Sagrada Familia, it's beautiful. 
14. Love food? check the La Boqueria market.
15. Montjuïc - A hill in Barcelona and the view from there is very good. You can see the docks, the city.
That's all folks for Barcelona - Check the detailed blog for more suggestions. The blog will be out soon.

Camp Nou
Alcazar of Seville

It's time for Seville -
1. The most important place The Alcazar of Seville along with a tour of the Jewish Town.
2. One of the most beautiful cathedrals is the Seville Cathedral. Located near the Alcazar.
3. Plaza De Espana and Parque De Maria Luisa go hand in hand. Do check this place out and take a walk here as well.
4. Do not miss the Flamenco here and some drinks and tapas in the bars/restaurants nearby.

Plaza De Espana

The Alhambra
Time to explore Granada -
1. The Albaicin which is a small town located about 15 mins from the city center.
2. The Alhambra and the Generalife is the must here. Remember to book the tickets in advance.
3. Do not miss the bylanes near the Granada Cathedral if you want to shop.
4. Food ? check the restaurants and bar near Plaza Nueva. Tip - Granada has a tradition that if you order a drink at the bar, you get a free Tapas.
P.S. Stay somewhere in the city center. I stayed at Hotel Inglaterra.


Let's check out the capital - Madrid.
My friend - Priyanko Sarkar who also writes joined me for the next couple of days. In Madrid, we stayed at Hotel Silken Puerta America. The rooms were really good just FYI.
Things to do in Madrid.
1. Plaza Mayor, the city center has lots of attractions and things to check out in the areas surrounding it.
2. San Miguel Market, lots of tapas, shopping for vegetables and more, some good sangrias and a bar kinda feeling.
3. Do not miss the churros at the Chocolatería San Ginés, it is the oldest place in town serving them.
4. If you are an art lover then you need to spare one day for the 3 Art Museums

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • Museo Nacional del Prado - This is the biggest of the 3.
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. 
Palacio Real
5. The king's palace - Palacio Real and the Cathedral de Santa Maria. Both of them are opposite each other and worth visiting. 
Parque de El Retiro

6. Palacio de Cristal and Parque de El Retiro, they both are located together and you should take a walk in the park for sure. It's really good. 
7. We decided to take a single day tour to Segovia and Toledo which you can do as well. (Check city discovery for the same. They will show you around the two places.)

Time for the last destination of the trip - Valencia. 
To be honest, I couldn't enjoy it that much as it was raining most of the time (it usually doesn't rain during those months I visited)
Mercat Central
1. Visit the Mercat Central for some freshly baked croissants/bread and coffee. You can also find amazing vegetables and ham. 
2. La Lonja - The Silk Exchange - the place will show you the background about how the silk exchange started here. 
3. Iglesia de Santa Catalina Mártir (Santa Caterina) - Located a few mins walking from the Mercat Central. The cathedral has a tower having just 127 steps to climb up and you can see Valencia from there. 

Cathedral De Valencia
4. Cathedral De Valencia - You can easily spend 2 hours here. Take an audioguide to know the story behind all. 
5. Museo Nacional de Cerámica - I enjoyed this place, the art, the designs and the sculptures. It was worth it. (At least we were indoors and saved from the rains)
6. Museo Arqueologico De La Almonia - An innovative way of seeing the remains of the different civilizations that have existed in Valencia.
6. It was La Tomatina time when we were in Valencia and decided to take a tour to Bunol in order to play with tomatoes and have fun there. The festival happens on the 31st of August every year so you can plan accordingly. 

With this, the trip has ended. I wish I had more days to explore other areas as well but with the time I had in hand, I think I covered quite a lot. I hope you guys enjoy traveling through Spain and exploring the places. There might be some places I have missed which you might come across so you can put it down in the comments section below so that other reader can check it and visit them.
BTW, I forgot, you can follow me on Twitter - @HungryBawarchi, Instagram - HungryBawarchi, Facebook - The Hungry Bawarchi for travel updates, food updates and more. I'm soon going to be traveling more.

Lastly, the detailed post about the cities will be up soon, hence subscribe to the blog so you can get updates and check them out as well.

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