Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Beauty of Barcelona - Spain (Part 3)

I woke up pretty early today since I’ve made my mind up about going back to St. Josep La Boqueria to have breakfast there. I took the metro at about 9 a.m. in the morning to head to the market and thank God they’re open. I decided to take a quick tour around the market and decided to have some food at the very first food stall I found, named Ramblero. It serves some tapas selection that you can pick from their display. I decided to try out two seafood dishes.

Musclos (EUR 8.00)
Steamed mussels served with simple seasonings and added with garlic, thyme and served with a lemon wedge on the side in a little pot. The mussels were served fresh and were cooked really well. A simple dish made simply but still tasted good.

Pinxos (EUR 2.25)
Selection of pinxos (read: pinchos) is an array of foods in small bites, typical to the Spanish tapas-style dishes. I picked one of the available dishes which consists of smoked salmon, some kind of creamy custard (like the gray stuff in Beauty and the Beast!) that is spread on top of a slice of toasted bread. The dish is actually pretty sweet with the sweetness of the custard and the smoked salmon that went along pretty well.

After that small breakfast, I continued walking around the market, checking out the stalls that caught my eye. Some of the must try is the selection of jamon (read: hamon) which is basically a smoked pork dish, usually served on its own or with cheese and crackers like a charcuterie. As I don’t eat pork, I can only take pictures. Lucky I was allowed to take pictures in one of the stalls. Jamon Serrano (EUR 3) Or some other refer it as serrano ham. This cold cut pork is served as slices. The shopkeeper said that the taste is really salty and super rich due to the high-fat content. I can’t attest much to it haha.

Blueberry and Coconut Smoothie (EUR 1.50)
There are lots of stall selling mixed fruit juice. Some of the combination are pretty unique like mine was, but truth be told I picked out that flavor due to its pretty color hehe. I tried ordering a combination of strawberry and orange and they said that only the juices on display are available for purchase — meaning that I cannot order a custom fruit juice :(

Realizing that I only have a 10 euros left for the whole day in Barcelona (yes, I was that broke) (yes, I was that careless) (yes, I spent it on food) before I go back to the hostel to take my spare money in the hostel’s locker, I decided to leave the market and to continue the day doing stuffs that were basically… free. I left the market after having a taste of one of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted from a Morrocan spice shop — a chocolate-covered almond covered in cocoa powder. I swear if I had more money, I would’ve bought a whole bag of that chocolate. Seriously it was so good.

As I plan to continue the day with the idea to spend as little money as possible I brainstormed for a minute while I use a free WiFi service from the outside of a little cafe near the market.  I decided to take a random bus to take me anywhere, as I have a transportation pass for the rest of the day, I walked to the nearest bus station and from there I checked out some route that passes some landmark places. I decided to take Bus 150 and figured out this is the best way to live like a local, for free, while sightseeing the city. My lazy bum was thankful for that decision. So I took that bus and stopped across the Arc de Triomf monument. Similar to its French counterpart, this huge pillars stood tall and has its pavement surrounding it with tall palm trees and beautiful sceneries. In all honesty, I preferred this pillar compared to Arc de Triomphe because the surroundings are more serene and the warm colors of the pillars was an interesting scene. As this arch is also a bit underrated, I feel like this is one of the places to go.

I continued taking the same bus number following their directions. Turns out the bus was climbing to the top of the hill — Barcelona is a city that has seven hills as it’s infrastructure; something I did not recognize earlier on. There at the top near Casal Infantil Guinardo, I hopped off the bus and sat on a bench facing a little field while enjoying the city scenery for a good one hour. I bought some drinks to accompany my moment of silence in the side of the hilly road. The sunny Barcelona is turning cloudy and the wind got stronger. My ideal weather. An hour had passed, I finally decide to go back to my starting point at Placa de Catalunya. I took another bus and we went downhill. When the bus was stopping at Placa de Catalunya, I didn’t feel like hopping off. I decided to stay on the bus, and continued on the trip to a different direction, again away from the center.

I ended up being dropped off nearby Barcelona Olympic Football Stadium. It’s so funny as I cannot afford going inside Camp Nou, the Barcelona Football Club home stadium, and then arrive at the national stadium that has free entrance. The stadium is located in Montjuïc, at the southwest part of the city. There were virtually no one else within the stadium so walking around it and everything becomes such an unexpected leisure. As the stadium is located within Montjuïc, it is also located nearby Castle de Montjuic. Once you step outside the stadium, there’s a park that went downhill to the vicinity of the Montjuic Castle. To be honest, I did not get to take a close look at the Castle, but the view I got from the park was amazing. It was atop of a hill that oversees the whole city of Barcelona. I was not expecting that kind of view in this city, but the one I got took my breath away.

Honestly, Spain just took me by the heart. Both Madrid and Barcelona are so pretty and the people are amazing. At first, I was a bit scared going in since the high warning for pickpockets, but the people and the environment of the city proved me wrong since they are nothing but welcoming. Throughout my travels, I would certainly put this country on the top of my list. It was all just simply amazing. As the sun is almost setting, I went back to my hostel to get my belongings. I am ending my short trip to the Southern Europe. Impressed with all the great food, good memories, new friends, I finally took a plane back home. The airport shuttle bus trip from Placa de Catalunya costs EUR 4.50, and by that time all my money had gone. I wish I had more days in this city, or to explore the other areas Spain has to offer. I was just so in love.