by Harriet Freeman
I remember my first day in Barcelona. I got to the city center on the Aerobus from the Airport of Barcelona. I got off and saw this nice square called Plaza Catalunya in front of my eyes, it was then when I realized that I was in Barcelona! My dream of visiting one of the jewels of Europe had come true.
I was very excited and wanted to get to the apartment in Las Ramblas that I had rented. I was eager to see if it was as nice as I had seen in the pictures. So, I asked somebody where the Ramblas were. Not far! Just at the other side of the square, turning right.
Once in Las Ramblas, I quickly saw the fountain of Canaletes, where FC Barcelona fans celebrate the victories of the best football team in Europe! I must admit that I think “deep red-blue blood” runs through my veins. I started walking down Las Ramblas which were so crowded... What stroke me the most was the beautyof the place and the buildings on both sides of the famous avenue. On the right, the market of La Boqueria was inviting me to enter and see its stalls with the most colorful, fresh fruit and vegetables. But I couldn't stop, I wanted to get to my accommodation in Barcelona and leave my bags. So, I went on my way down Las Ramblas and saw the Gran Teatre del Liceu. I really love opera and this is one of the best opera halls in Europe!
The buildings were not the only things in Las Ramblas that caught my attention. There were loads of street performers, stallholders, peddlers and painters in this emblematic avenue of Barcelona. I could feel the lively ambiance in Las Ramblas, and noticed that having a walk along this street was one of the best things to do in Barcelona.
The human statues were impressive! A beautiful angel in front of me was smiling but didn't move. There were people around her, a little kid got near her and throw a coin into the hat at her feet. The nice angel made a slow, gentle move and sent a kiss to her audience. A little further down, there was a couple dancing a tango. They were dressed up in smart tango clothes and their dance was so beautiful and sensual... When they finished, the people who had got together around gave them a big round of applause. It was fantastic!
I was about to get to my apartment. I just had to turn left, walk through the Plaza Real and along a few narrow streets in the Gothic quarter. It was not difficult to find the place. I got to the apartment and when I came in, it was perfect! As beautiful as I had seen in the pictures and with all the equipment promised. I was so happy! My life in Barcelona had just started and I'm still living here after 4 years...
Today we are featuring Natasha Smith, a full time writer at Spain for Pimsleur Approach, a leading provider of audio-based language learning courses including Learn Brazilian Portuguese and Learn Japanese. Natasha puts her knowledge of Spanish life to good use writing for various travel and culture e-zines.
Barcelona is a city shaped by history, politics and geography. Nowhere is its mix of influences more evident than in the city’s restaurants.
Mediterranean dishes, local Catalan fare, Argentinean barbeque, French nouveau cuisine- Barcelona has all this and more. Italian, Mexican, Japanese, modern, ethnic and exclusive; whatever your budget or palate preferences, you’ll find something to tease your taste buds in Barcelona’s restaurants.
Let’s start with the Gothic quarter. This area of Barcelona, just north of La Rambla, is a stunning display of solid stone sprinkled with small shops, cafés, bodegas and gourmet eateries. The buildings here date back to the fourteenth century and some still bare traces of the old Roman civilisation.
This architectural history brings a unique flavour to the restaurants in the quarter. A good example is Melìc del Gotìc. This restaurant is located on the site of the old Montsió convent, which was built in the fifteenth century. The interior walls are the original walls of the convent and where the nuns were sent to do penance.
This creates an atmosphere in Melìc del Gotìc which is both noble and enchanting. And the menu follows suit. The restaurant serves only meat dishes cooked on an impressive open fire. An array of light side order dishes such as caliu potatoes or mushrooms sautéd with garlic and parsley compliment the meat choices, which includes steak, pork and lamb.
The entrees are moderately priced between $19 and $30. Melìc del Gotìc is located on Calle Montsió, 7.
For something a little more informal head towards the beach to Castelldefels and find Kama del Mar, which is located right on the paseo. With a mix of eating areas and a very varied menu, this restaurant has something for everyone.
The restaurant is split into two separate parts, the main dining area and the terrace. In the main dining area, the menu is a mix of Mediterranean and market fare. Here tapas, grilled meat and dishes of the East are served. Being located right on the beach, they also serve a wide range of seafood.
On the terrace is a large chill out zone with couches and lounger beds. Kama del Mar also do a selection of cocktails. Eating tapas, sipping a mojito and relaxing on one of their large sofas is not a bad way to spend any evening.
Dishes at Kama del Mar are priced between $30 and $53 and the restaurant is located at Paseo Maritimo 248-250.
If the evening calls for a more upmarket fare, head to the newly opened Nex To just off Paseo de Gracia. This is a trendy city restaurant with a sleek interior. It’s ideal for large groups and willing to create individual menus for special events.
In keeping with its modern atmosphere, Nex To’s menu is experimental. Entre dishes include tasty bites such as aubergine timbale with goat cheese and olives and tuna steak with pepper sauce and jam onion.
The menu prices range from $33 to $53 and Nex To is located at Calle Rosselló, 242.
Not totally off the beaten track but well worth a mention is the restaurant El Jardí del Apat. This eatery is located just 200 metres from Barcelona’s Parc Guell and is an outdoor restaurant with tables along its balcony and under the shade of lush trees. Diners also get a panoramic view of the city from the restaurant’s garden.
The varied menu includes a mix of fine Mediterranean cuisine and traditional Catalan cooking. As well as a selection of meats and grilled vegetables, they also serve snails, cold cuts, pates and cheeses.
The menu prices range from $33 to $53 and Nex To is located at Calle Albert Llanas, 2.
Nearly every tourist who visits Barcelona goes to the famous 4 Gats restaurant located in the heart of the Gothic quarter. But for an equally traditional taste of Barcelona minus the tourist throng, head to Can Ramonet a short distance away. This restaurant is situated in Barcelona’s seaside neighborhood, Ciutat Vella.
Family owned for more than 260 years, Can Ramonet is a fresh mix of old meets new. The restaurant’s interior is rustic with large wine barrels used as tables and Jamón Serrano hanging from the ceiling. The menu is a mix of wild fish, Catalan beef and seasonal produce. Tapas, beers and wines are also served and can be eaten either inside or on the restaurant’s terrace.
The menu prices range from $33 to $53 and Can Ramonet is located at Calle Maquinista, 17.
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