Barri Gotic, Barcelona

To celebrate successfully completing my MBA applications, I decided to treat myself to a week of self-care in the form of travel. I chose Spain for a couple reasons – primarily, constant sunshine and beauty, and great wine and food. I’m no stranger to Spain, having spent June 2013 based in Granada, traveling across Andalusia to cities like Seville, Cordoba, and Malaga (and other beach towns). Although I’m in Barcelona the next several days, I flew into Madrid and proceeded northward from there.


Today was a mixed bag, in complete honesty – I purchased wifi for two hours of the flight, of which I was able to maintain connectivity for 40 minutes; I hadn’t pre-purchased a ticket for my train from Madrid to Barcelona (hedging in case there was traffic or a flight delay) and ultimately was hours behind my desired arrival time; I am 100% sure I insisted on paying 30 Euro for a taxi due to a miscommunication, and the cabbie let me pay him. Not great for the wallet, but hopefully everything that could go wrong financially on this type of trip already has.

On the flip side, there were some easy wins: an on-time departure and limited turbulence, despite thunderstorms out of Newark; Barcelona is nowhere near as sketchy as travel blogs suggest; Spanish sunshine has given way to cooling rain and is the perfect backdrop for a reflective blog post.

Anyway, on to the good stuff – Madrid (briefly) and Barcelona! The photo above is Madrid’s beautiful train station, which I briefly enjoyed while waiting to catch my train northward. The view from the train ride itself was beautiful – although I unfortunately wasn’t able to capture many photos, there were many instances of beautiful red-roofed towns nestled against the mountains, fulfilling exactly the picturesque ambiance I was seeking.


That’s not to mention the vibrant contrast between the vineyards, olive groves and open fields.

Once I arrived in Barcelona, I proceeded to meet my host, who lives in a beautiful building tucked away behind the facades of Barcelona’s Barri Gotic.


After getting settled in and having a much needed shower, I wandered out into the Barri Gotic – it strikes me as a combination between New York City’s SoHo (especially Broadway, with all of the shops) and Brussels, with its labyrinthine medieval road planning and sprinkling of medieval buildings. It’s also home to beautiful hole-in-the-wall cafes.


Unfortunately, I realized that my camera’s viewfinder has been irreparably damaged (how remains unknown…), so the caliber of photo I’ll be able to achieve on this trip is sadly less than I would have preferred. That being said, I captured a couple photos highlighting the neighborhood’s charm.


The neighborhood is bustling with tapas and pizza restaurants (many of which have both indoor and outdoor seating options), churches (including a beautiful cathedral) and shopping galore. It’s also incredibly hard to navigate – I found myself lost multiple times.


In slight despair over my camera’s sad state and my inability to align my position with my map, I allowed myself to be shepherded into my first tapas restaurant of the night, Avinyo 10.

I tried the pan de tomat, which is delicious, focaccia-like bread smeared with a tomato paste, sea salt and delicious olive oil. Of course, I had to try a Sangria to complement it.


Despite being initially skeptical (especially since I was drawn in not by a recommendation but by street advertising), it was a delicious start.

I then progressed to the highlight of my day: tapas at La Alcoba Azul. I, of course, ordered way too much food – and enjoyed every moment of the deliciousness (and have left overs for tomorrow!).


The restaurant itself has an amazing ambiance – a tiny little bar, with wooden tables / chairs and other features, dim lighting, and a huge tapas and wine menu (tomorrow I’m hoping to visit one of their neighboring restaurants, one of Barcelona’s oldest wine bars). I started with a glass of wine (4 Euro!), red bell peppers stuffed with goat cheese and topped with a honey sauce, and manchego cheese. The red peppers were perfectly cooked – not charred, but tender with enough texture to offset the smoothness of the goat cheese.

Then, I had an amazing cod carpaccio – again, it has the tomato spread, olive oil, and salty elements (caperberries and some type of caviar) as well as texture from red onions and radishes. Lastly, but deliciously, I enjoyed the calamari, which was spiced with yellow curry powder, some type of browned meat (probably ham) and arugula. Each bite was absolutely delicious.

To be honest, it was the perfect place to relax, read a book, and enjoy each piece of the food. I’ll probably go back!

Now I’m preparing to sleep, given I’ve been up for roughly 28 hours. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to explore more of Barri Gotic, and also explore Gracia and Eixample.

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