Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Barcelona Wanderlust (II) : La Roca Village & City tour

Continuing on our Barcelona trip...

When in this city, how can we give La Roca Village a miss? It was a little tricky to get to this outlet shopping place by train & bus but we did it anyway. And so we took the train (which was just below our hotel, how convenient!) from Barcelona Sants and alighted at Granollers Centre Station. From there, we had to locate the bus stop where a direct bus operated by Sagal├ęs will bring you to La Roca. 

We had a hard time trying to find that particular bus stop because there wasn't any signs to direct you there and we had so much difficulties trying to communicate with the people at the station. When we eventually found the bus stop, we missed the bus by a minute! That resulted in another hour of wait. Felt extremely helpless and pissed off especially when according to the picture below, the bus stop wasn't far away from the train station. However, there were a few bus stops around so that made things confusing!

Though it was much of a hassle, we did save quite a bit compared to taking a taxi. 

Bagged home a Furla setchel at a steal! Hm bought a few pairs of Oasics sneakers at less than $50 and i think that was our loots for the day. In general, I personally felt that Houston premium outlet was a better place to shop till you drop but it all depends on what brands you're looking for though! 

Back to the hotel to drop our loots before heading out for again. Dinner was at Cerveceria Catalana , a restaurant that is highly raved by many and a popular place among locals and tourists. Locating this place was easy as it's a short walking distance from Diagonal/Passeig de Gracia metro station. Furthermore, you can spot a large crowd from afar. No other restaurants around was as crowded as this place! 

Had to take a queue number and even when there were only the both of us, we had to wait for at least 30 mins. Tried as many tapas as possible but they weren't cheap. Bill was about 65euros for all these small bites! At least the food didn't disappoint but one visit is enough for me. 

We spent the last day doing a city tour around Barceona on foot and all by ourselves. Started off with a Camp Nou experience! Hm was here just last Oct but he was more than glad to come back again. Tsk. 

FC Barcelona's proud achievements!

I just had to...

Largest stadium in Europe and can seat close to 100,000. How not to feel tiny here?

Park Guell next! I really didn't expect the journey there to be so tedious. Had to take steep slopes up one after another. Felt so tired even before we reach the entrance. I hope I've shed some fats after walking all day. 

Spotting where we came from and only half way there.. These escalators were built at the right time and place!

Spot sagrada familia!

Park Guell only admits a certain number of visitors every hour and we just had to be stopped and admit only an hour later.  

Sagrada Familia checked! This UNESCO Heritage Site is just too amazing having been built since 1882. Construction is still going on and anticipated completion date to be by 2026. 

Our week long of holiday in Florence & Barcelona was too short! Nevertheless, I'd love to explore more cities together with you. Till our next adventure! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Barcelona Wanderlust (I)

Flew from Florence back to Barcelona via Vueling, flight was smooth, swift and on time! Upon arrival, I headed to the information counter and asked where we could take the Metro but was told that there isn't any Metro that links to the airport. If we want to take the Metro, we have to take the Airport bus to the city before transferring over. 

Here, I was a little confused because I am pretty sure that our hotel is situated just right above the train station. Right, the TRAIN station! Did I just mixed up the Metro and the Train? Yes I did. I thought it works like Singapore's MRT TRAIN. Metro/train, sama sama isn't it? No, this is not Singapore...

It was a little too late to realize this when we were already on our way to the city via the airport bus. Arrived at bus stop just outside Catalunya Metro station and the nightmare didn't end there. We dragged our heavy luggages up and down the stairs to take the Metro and realized we had to change train. Once again, pulled our stuffs from one end to another. After all the grandmother stories, we FINALLY arrived at Sants Estacio station, where our hotel is situated. I could have saved us all the trouble if only I asked for the correct directions where we were just 2 or 3 stations away from the airport -_- Lesson learnt here!

Checked into our space themed hotel, Hotel Barcelo Sants and this was our crib for four nights! We had a good stay here all thanks to the good location (both Metro and Train station just directly below our hotel), clean, spacious and have all our necessities met. Definitely a recommended place to stay. Cost us about 120euros/night! 

Dropped our stuffs and headed out immediately! We bought the 10-trips ticket (about 10.90euros) at the Metro station and it was very worth it. Sufficient to last us for 3 days when we were out and about. 

Our first stop was La Boqueria, a large public market and also one of Barcelona's tourist landmarks. This place has a diverse selection of goods from fresh fruits to pastries, sweets, seafood and etc. You'll never go hungry here. 

Unfortunately, the fried food that we tried were all cold. Not sure if they like to eat it like that? They don't seem to heat the food up for you. We wanted to try some seafood at the counter but everywhere was jam packed with tourist with only a few seats available. Didn't want to waste the time queuing so we just settled for finger food instead. 

'Marilyn Monroe' spotted opposite the market.

At the Columbus Monument, where this monument served as a reminder that Christopher Columbus reported to the Queen & King of Barcelona after his first trip to the new continent, America. Tourist information board helps! 

Part time street artist?

Casa Mila, designed by Catalan architect Gaudi whereby this was his last civil work. 

Walked to this tapas place where Hm visited last year and he was raving about the fried chicken strips so we decided to have dinner there. My conclusion for our first tapas meal, it was unsatisfactory. No doubt the chicken strips were good but the rest of the tapas were just plain bad. 47euros for a lousy meal that wasn't filling at all. Boo! 

Brightly lit at 10pm. Enjoying the long daylight hours, close to 20hours of daylight during summer!

Woke up early in the morning for our Montserrat & Cava tour today! Joined a tour group of 12 and our tour guide Lisa, filled us in with some history and interesting facts of Barcelona & Monseratt on our way up. It was an hour's drive between the two places.

Monserrat is a mountain top monastery in Catalonia, Spain. It also literally means "saw mountain" in Catalan, based on the rock formations from a great distance. 

Tried the locals' favourite dessert, honey with goat cheese. 

According to Lisa, we could get a good view of the local landscape at the Montserrat cross so we took a mini hike up the steep slopes and uneven roads to take a look.

True enough, the view we got was clear and spectacular. Having a picnic and spending a lazy afternoon there would be perfect!

Left Montseratt and continued on for a cava tour next. 

Visited the cava maker's house and this is how a typical Catalan's kitchen look like many years ago. It's rarely in use now. 

We were brought around to see how they make Cava, a type of sparkling wine (or also referred to as Spanish champagne) produced in Catalonia. Cava is often consumed in Catalan/Spanish families over dinner/celebrations etc.

Of course after going through the tour and knowing more about the cava making process, we had to get a taste of it! I personally didn't quite like the sour taste of the cava or I would have gotten a few bottles of it to bring home. They are largely affordable from as cheap as 9 euros/bottle!

Lisa recommended this local restaurant to us to go for their paella so we specially made our way to Barceloneta but only to find that the restaurant was closed?! Had to settle our dinner at a random restaurant nearby instead :(

There are plenty of restaurants along the boardwalk of La Barceloneta (this place is well know for its sandy beach) so we decided to walk into one of them with the most diners. Lol.

We had seafood & lobsters paella and thankfully, dinner was good! I love how this dish was beautifully rich in flavour and they were generous with the ingredients. Bill was about 75euros but it was definitely way much better than the bad tapas meal we had.

Before we end our long day, we caught the magic fountain in action where music was incorporated with the light show and the fountain. There's a show everyday at 9pm. It was barely 930pm that day but we were already so exhausted. Back to the hotel to recharge for outlet shopping the next day!

To be continued...