3 DAYS IN LA BARCELONETA
Friday, 4 September 2015
Last week I spent a long weekend in Barcelona with two girlfriends. Barcelona is a beautiful city full of incredible architecture and landmarks, but we had all been before and seen the 'must-see' Segrada Familia, Park Guell, etc. so we gave ourselves permission to just relax, after all enduring pretty stressful summers. We decided to stay in the La Barceloneta neighbourhood, because BEACH. Our three day itinerary worked pretty well, so I thought I would share it here - Barcelona is one of those awesome places where you get the relaxed Mediterranean vibe and the people are super friendly, but there's also a great food scene that goes beyond mass-produced paella and tapas churned out by the boatload. It was really nice to pick some of the beachfront restaurants - which I would often avoid as they're the most touristy - and know that we were getting good food at reasonable prices (we did the whole weekend on the cheap). And THE WINE YOU GUYS. So great. Anyway, here's what we did in La Barceloneta on a budget:
ARRIVE: Catch an early flight and get to La Barceloneta (35 euros taxi from the airport, fyi) by 11am. Can't check into your place yet? Get a couple of jugs of sangria at one of the many bars right on the beach.
LUNCH: Go to Makamaka for cheap burgers, fresh fruit juices (or cocktails) and the best skin-on fries I've ever had. The staff are super-chilled and all speak English.
AFTERNOON: Check in (we stayed in this Airbnb 30 seconds from the beach), change and get straight out onto the beach for the rest of the day.
EVENING: Chill out with some sangria and Pringles in the apartment (or on the beach) before heading to Barraca for dinner. This restaurant, at the end of the strip towards the Olympic park, is on the pricey side (but still really reasonable by London standards) but is beautifully designed with huge windows overlooking the beach, an open kitchen and wishbone chairs. A lot of care and attention has obviously gone into the menu; share paella and fried rockfish (pictured above) stuffed with deep fried garlic and onions. Including wine and service (no dessert), we paid around 30 euros each.
MORNING: Sleep in, you're on holiday! Walk around the marina and into the town centre (about 30 minutes) and head for brunch at Caravelle.
MIDDAY: On the walk back, stop in at Carrefour on Las Ramblas to stock up on supplies; we planned a beach picnic dinner for my friend's birthday that night and all of the sangria, cava, fruit, delicious cured meats and fresh cheese came to around 20 euros. Also pick up a couple of avocados (they are SO much better than anything I've ever had in the UK, and huge) for breakfast the next day.
AFTERNOON: You guessed it...beach!
EVENING: Head down to the beach as the sun is setting - the colours are beautiful and the W Hotel at the far end of the beach reflects all the colours of the sky and looks like shimmering fish scales. Light a few candles, pop the cork and dig into your picnic.
MORNING: Make brunch at the apartment. Those super-fresh avocados made an appearance with some crusty bread, fried eggs and fresh tomatoes.
BEACH: On our third day, we made the beach a major priority for some serious tanning before heading home. If you're going for the whole day, set yourself up with some loungers and a parasol at 8 euros a-piece. Get pizza slices and cans of coke from the little market on the corner for lunch and you don't have to move until sundown.
CITY: If lazing around on the beach isn't really your thing, find the hop on-hop off bus for a full tour of the city for around 15 euros.
EVENING: Find yourself some tapas. El Pacifico does all the classics (calamari, tortilla, chorizo, etc.), plus a few interesting extras like octopus ceviche and La Bomba, a Barceloneta special. We also loved their rose sangria with kiwi and banana. Game-changing.
MORNING: One last breakfast in the apartment! Spend a leisurely morning packing, pop out for coffee and then catch an early afternoon flight to get you home in time for tea.
I honestly can't recommend La Barceloneta enough if you're just looking for somewhere to chill out with great food and good weather. I'm definitely planning to go back! If you're going with girlfriends, put money into a shared kitty and use that to pay for all your meals and shopping; it avoids any tiffs about who has to pay what and takes all the hassle out of splitting bills. For all our meals, taxis, drinks and other little extras we ended up spending 180 euros each (around 45 euros per day); DON'T FORGET to save some euros for the tax-free, Spanish-priced Zara in the airport!