A Travellerspoint blog

The Barcelona days. . . part 2

Our food and craft beer experiences in Barcelona, and the journey back home

semi-overcast 86 °F

The food:
Our meals in Barcelona were fantastic.
We ate at Ale&Hop, which is part vegetarian restaurant part brewpub.
It was the perfect mix of our epicurean interests! As there are limited vegetarian/vegan options in this meat-centric city, we dined with fellow vegetarian tourists that had also sought out this place.

We munched on house-made hummus and a flatbread with caramelized eggplant and a savory sauce flatbread for an appetizer.
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Heidi had the beet and chickpea burger topped with a wasabi infused vegenaise.
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I had the Mexican burger, a black bean burger with guacamole, caramelized onions, and Gorgonzola cheese (I opted for this over the vegan cheese that accompanied it).
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Both burgers were served with sweet potato fries and vegenaise.
We opted for the beers brewed in-house.

Our other formal meal was at Mirablau, restaurant by day and swanky club by night, set at the foot of the Funicular del Tibidabo with spectacular panoramic views of Barcelona.
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It was lunch and at the time had dinner reservations for a seafood restaurant (due to logistics we never made it), so we opted for a few smaller dishes.

For our appetizer, we dined on padrones (shishito peppers) with sea salt.
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I got a salmon salad and patatas bravas (a dish native to Spain but it’s essentially home fries with a delicious tomato aioli).
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Heidi chose cannelloni with a roasted red pepper sauce. That sauce was so freaking good!
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We both had Spanish cava for this first time. It has an interesting history. Formerly known as “Spanish champagne”, it had to change its designation under European Union law once Spain joined the EU, as France already owned the rights to that title. So “sparking Spanish wine” it is!

The beers
We essentially visited 4 venues that brewed their own beers:

Ale&Hop: our vegetarian dinner place that features local, regional, and international craft beers.
Our favorite here was the Makeando IPA from Cyclic Beer Farm.
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L’Espumossa Art & Cervesa:
It was here that we met a Barcelona native trying to set up own brewery for her beers called OOB (Our Own Beer).
This brewpub sells her bottles (that feature Braille on the labels!) and frequently rotates her brews on draft.
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Of the flights sampled here, the most unique was a passion fruit sour ale (Edbeer Maracuya by Mas Malta).

BrewDog Barcelona:
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It’s a multinational chain, with its base in Scotland. They have a US location in Ohio too. The atmosphere was laid back and reminded me of our East coast breweries. We did some flights here as well, the standout for me was the Clockwork Tangerine Session IPA.
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They had a Sega Genesis, and Heidi couldn’t resist a go at Sonic the Hedgehog!
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Garage Beer Company:
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The scene here was punk, while the quality and production leveled the beers were on bar with Trillium, Bissell Brothers, Thin Man, and Other Half Brewing. In fact, Garage Beer and Other Half have collaborated on a beer!
This brewery is a “must-do” for craft beer lovers.
Since they didn’t do flights, we each got pints. I got Política, their sour Berliner Weisse.
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Remember when you were little and it was super exciting to find keychains and other useless crap with your name on it?
Well, I think the much cooler adult version of that has got to be going to Spain and learning that not one but TWO craft beers bear your name!
BlackLab Brewhouse (Barcelona) has the Claudia IPA, and the Moor Beer Company (Somerset, UK) has the Claudia (a pale wheat ale)!
I was bummed that we didn’t hit up the BlackLab, but anyone in la Barceloneta during their Barcelona travels, please get me a “Claudia” IPA t-shirt!
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If you love craft beer like we do and enjoy rating them, join us on Untappd and see our thoughts on the samplings of the Barcelona craft beer scene! There are around a dozen craft breweries in the city of Barcelona, aproveché!

The Barcelona highlights for me were the architecture, the food, and visiting the unique neighborhoods (though more spread out than in Lisbon). Barcelona has a strong LGBT and punk presence. There is rich history for which residents of Barcelona province (as well as Cataluña at large) are proud and are part of their identity.

Our journey home to Boston began a little stressful. The bus and subway combo we used to enter Barcelona from Torrelles de Llobregat took so long that we risked missing our flight. Seeing as we neither checked-in nor had boarding passes (I kept getting error messages from the Iberia app) with less than 2 hours to takeoff, we completed the trek with a taxi to the airport.

There were a lot of, let’s just call them “Americans”, that we’re very vocal about the chaos ensuing. All the “I want to speak to the manager”, “I have a flight to make” (as if the rest of us just showed up at the airport to stand in this line for no reason), “things are way more organized in the United States” phrases were exhausted to no avail. Since more than 75% of our flight’s manifest was in that customs line, a representative from our airline came over and that helped the staff move things along.

The 8h flight was long, but uneventful. WiFi is for purchase only on Level airlines. I had the time to start working on the Lisbon blog posts, rediscovered my love for old Rilo Kiley albums, watched two movies (Lady Bird and a Spanish movie about sexuality). Unfortunately, neither of us were able to sleep (but thankfully, this helped us avoid jet lag and were able to attend a sour and wild beer festival called We’re Funk’d the next day!) The unintended bonus to checking in so late without seat assignments was the we got a middle section row of 4 seats to ourselves!
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Our honeymoon was not perfect (I failed to mention that I got a bacterial skin infection and had to go to the hospital), but we had an incredible time and our relationship grew stronger. We did not have a set itinerary for anything aside from the souvenir painting in Lisbon and horse back riding in Mallorca (which we had to cancel after my infection got worse).
This flexibility worked out great as we were able to work around setbacks, delayed buses, craft breweries that said they’d be open but weren’t (I see you Sullerica Cervesa Artesana in Soller), or being too hot or hangry to compete with tourists for admission.

Heidi and I love each other so much, and are pleased with our choice to forgo a fancy classic wedding in favor of a lifetime of wanderlust.

We hope you enjoyed reading about our honeymoon adventures and will check out our other travel blogs at baecation2016!

Claudia & Heidi ?
?? ?

Posted by baecation2016 17:44 Archived in Spain Tagged craft food beer honeymoon barcelona spain vegetarian brewery cava oob Comments (0)

The Barcelona days. . part 1

The sights seen and the modes of transit to see them

sunny 86 °F

Thankfully, the Vueling flight to Barcelona ended up going pretty smoothly in comparison to the flight to Palma de Mallorca.
After a very expensive taxi ride, we finally arrived at our Airbnb in Torrelles de Llobregat, “la Terrasseta” (aptly named for its huge terrace overlooking the hillside town adorned with terra cotta roofed homes).
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The next morning we got some food at the supermarket, made breakfast, and enjoyed the terrace for a few hours.
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I had read about Catalunya en Miniatura, as it’s sort of THE touristy thing to do in this tiny municipality of Barcelona province. There are 14 miniature building exhibitions in Europe and apparently this is the one of the largest in the world! Prior to our trip, I started following the park on Instagram and kept mentioning it to Heidi enough to pique her interest.
As our apartment was nearby it, we walked over to the park.
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Boy, it sure didn’t disappoint! This place was freaking adorable, and it provided a great way to see the Cataluña region and “all of Barcelona” at once.
I took like over 100 pics but I’ve done my best to condense the highlights into the following collages and images:
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That evening, we had tapas at our neighborhood bar and watched the Croatia-England World Cup match with the locals.

It was NOT an easy task using public transit from our province to the city of Barcelona. After some missteps, we regrouped at a cafe with free WiFi, got back on course, and finally made it to our desired destination (a bike rental shop) nearly 2 hours later!

We rented a tandem bike at Happy Bike Rental. Almost immediately, we realized that we were in over our heads. It’s WAY harder than it looks to coordinate a tandem bike!
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The bright side was that Barcelona has great dedicated bike lanes equipped with their own bike light signals.
There are also bici boxes to safely store your bike without fear of someone stealing the tires or seat!
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We biked to San Sebastía beach and celebrated us not falling or running over any pedestrians with water and craft beers.
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The original plan was to tandem bike around the city to do all our sightseeing. NB: Everything in Barcelona is super spread out!
So, this idea was quickly abandoned and we opted to use our 2 day Barcelona city transit passes.
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Sights seen:
Port Cable Car
La Sagrada Familia (exterior)
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Park Güell (exterior)
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Arc de Triomf/Park De la Ciutadella
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Funicular del Tibidabo
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Parc d’ Atraccions Tibidabo
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In order to get into La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, you need to purchase tickets. In fact, this might be the case for the other Antoni Gaudí works, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Given that it’s peak tourist season, we probably would’ve had to have purchased them MONTHS in advance. F that noise, the exteriors were still super cool to see.

Some cool neighborhoods visited:
Sant Pere Santa Caterina i la Ribera
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L’Eixample (Barcelona’s gayborhood)
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Gràcia
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Horta
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El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou
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Sant Gervasi Bonanova
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Posted by baecation2016 11:58 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona la en catalunya sagrada familia guell tibidabo neighborhoods parck miniatura Comments (0)

Mallorca #3

Birds and Trains

sunny 93 °F

Taking our second crack at hiking through the bird sanctuary, this time we were not going to let the heat (or anything else) hold us back.

We set out much earlier in the day with a solid plan for arriving by noon. We proceeded to get lost on the train and miss our bus, so we called a cab and arrived around 2 in the afternoon. With birdwatching, the earlier you start, the better chance you have to see a variety of birds. So arriving in the early afternoon was not exactly ideal, but we were cautiously optimistic.

And boy did our efforts pay off!

Parc Natural S'Albufera is the largest wetland area in the Balearic islands. It is a migratory and breeding hotspot for hundreds of different bird species. From the moment we stepped past the gate, we knew we made a great decision.

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We quickly noticed the sounds of many large birds chatting with each other animatedly. As we made our way down the path further into the sanctuary, we began to see the astonishing amount of cattle egrets who were making all of that chatter.

Little did we know we were walking right into a mass breeding ground for these gorgeous creatures!

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We never imagined we would come across something so grand, and we were completely blown away. And that was just along the entrance to the park! After obtaining our free permit from the visitors center, we chose a short path that we thought would be productive.

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The path turned out to be somewhat productive in terms of bird sightings, but completely barren in terms of shade coverings on a 90+ degree day. Our fresh bottle of water lasted about 30 minutes, and we had to turn back. But before we did we spotted at least 4 more different species, including this cute little Pied Avocet!
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We would have loved to stay and explore a lot longer, but the heat once again proved to be too exhausting for us to safely continue. So, feeling absolutely ecstatic with the views we did get to enjoy, we headed back out to find some paella in Port d'Alcudia.

Paella is the national dish of Spain, and on Mallorca they are specifically proud of their arros negre (squid ink paella). Since we had already tackled one bucket list item on the island that day, why not knock another one off as well?

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Squid ink paella
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Seafood paella

Our final day in Mallorca, we needed to be out of our AirBnb by 11am. Our flight wasn't leaving until 7pm, so we bid a fond farewell to our sweet little Sa Pobla and brought our luggage on the train to Palma. large_A894747F-8EF4-4432-B600-227B3F7E86FE.jpegThere we were able to store our bulky bags for a mere 7 euros so we could spend the rest of the day unburdened.

Mallorca has a very famous ferrocarril that runs from Palma to a small town called Soller. It is a small-gauge train that was constructed in the early 1900s, and is the only remaining ferrocarril on the island.

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The ride itself lasted less than an hour, and provided some of the most breath-taking views of the entire trip. The open-air carriages made us feel fully submerged in the western countryside.

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Arriving in Soller, we discovered an idyllic little town completely surrounded by lemon, orange, and fig trees just brimming with fruits. We found a local gelato shop to sample scoops made with the luscious local citrus, and set out for a stroll to savor our last moments on the island.

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After stopping for a delicious seafood lunch, we ventured to a brewery that was supposed to be open. It wasn't. So we had a couple beers in a nearby bar, and then made our way back to Palma to get our luggage and get on our plane to Barcelona!

Posted by baecation2016 17:41 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Mallorca #2

Beer and Naps

sunny

Day 2 in Mallorca we could not wait a moment longer to check out the beach!

Our host had suggested a few beaches that are pretty close to our little town, and not too crowded with tourists. We chose a gorgeous little part of the bay of Alcudia called Platja Aucanada (mostly because it sounds like "Oh Canada!").

Travelling in Mallorca is typically done by car because the public transit system is limited to a small portion of the island. We opted not to rent a car, figuring it would be just as easy to take cabs everywhere. We had not, however, accounted for not being able to use our phones to call said cabs. But being that we were staying in such a laid-back, quiet town, we were treated warmly by the waiter in the restaurant next door, and he gladly called a local taxi driver to come pick us up.

The driver Lorenco was delighted to tell us all about the island on our 20 minute drive, and even directed us to the best parts to avoid the tourists. The 30 Euro ride was well worth it when we arrived to our perfect patch of public shoreline.

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The beach was rustic and attached to a nice, tree-filled park. We found two perfect trees to string up our two-person hammock, put on our bathing suits, and cracked open some lukewarm beers we brought from the house.

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We spent several hours watching the boats sail in front of the mountain backdrop, and dipping into the sea when we felt too hot. Because this beach was not too close to any resort communities, we only had to share our space with some local families and their dogs.

After some not so great lunch at a restaurant with an outstanding view, we made our way up to a nearby hotel to phone a cab back to our studio for some extreme napping.

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Day 3

Hitting the midway point of our vacation, we were feeling the island vibes and really hitting our stride.

We were trying to reach a famous wildlife sanctuary where there is said to be the best bird-watching in all of the Mediterranean. We took another cab to a resort area nearby, planning to catch the bus after eating, or just walk the kilometer or so to the entrance. But once we arrived in the Port d'Alcudia, the extreme heat and oppressive presence of vacationing Europeans proved to be too exhausting for us to continue on to our hike. So we dragged our butts back to the AirBnb to rest until the sun went down enough to be outside without slowly melting. At least we got a glimpse of the "resort community" that the locals had all warned us about, and it was not pretty.

Feeling refreshed after a 4 hour heat-nap, we headed out to another cool bar in Sa Pobla called Bar Jovent. There we found our first locally-brewed craft beer called Rosa Blanca.

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After a few Rosas, we were feeling bold enough to make friends with a couple of people who were hanging out there with us. We had an especially good connection with Edwin, who lives in Sa Pobla and was eager to hear about our lives and our journey, and to tell us about his life. Finding an "amigo de alma" so far away from our own home was a special experience that we will remember for a very long time.

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Posted by baecation2016 16:31 Archived in Spain Tagged beer honeymoon summer europe mediterranean mallorca airbnb Comments (0)

Mallorca!

Day one in Sa Pobla

sunny 88 °F

It was tough leaving Lisbon after only two days. We were just starting to really get comfortable navigating the language and the city. But the next adventure awaits!!

An early morning turned into a very long day of traveling. We definitely should have had coffee first! We took the discount airline Vueling, a popular choice as it has many daily cheap flights from Barcelona (our connection) to Palma. There were a few hiccups, namely the 2 hour delay for a 30 minute flight followed up by long lines to take a bus, then more lines to board plane-side.

When we finally made it up into the air, a medical emergency on the flight stopped drink service before they got to us, and our connecting flight didn't offer beverages because it was so short. (Side note: Claudia has always said that she would try to avoid getting involved in an in-flight medical emergency, but as soon as the announcement came asking if there was a doctor on board, she jumped out of her seat to help, without hesitation. Luckily a doctor who actually spoke Portuguese had already come to help the person, who turned out to be ok in the end.)

Late that afternoon, we arrived in Palma to find blistering heat and empty stomachs. The first order of business had to be refreshments, stat! After two days of stammering through choppy attempts at Portuguese, it was such a relief when we entered a cafe to find the barista spoke very clear Spanish and understood our Spanish perfectly. Feeling at ease with a language we both speak was crucial to turning that day around.

With our backpacks weighing us down, we had to figure out how to navigate from the southern end of the island to our AirBnb on the opposite end. Luckily for us, we were able to take our all-time favorite mode of transportation: A TRAIN!

The hour-long ride gave us time to unwind and take in the incredible countryside of Mallorca.
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Sailing along the olive trees and dramatic mountain crags up to the green pastures of Sa Pobla, we found ourselves relaxing into another life.

Our studio apartment at first left a lot to be desired (like a bathroom door), but quickly became our cozy sanctuary in paradise.
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Sa Pobla is a small quiet town on the northern end of Mallorca. It is the opposite extreme from the touristy capitol Palma. Local residents frequent the few quiet bars and restaurants, like Sa Placeta, where we enjoyed our first official meal in Mallorca.
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We enjoyed the very rich and delicious food while taking in the Brazil-Belize World Cup match with a few other young patrons. The yummy, cheap beers weren't too bad either! While it didn't exactly match up with the crisp, refreshment of the Portuguese Sagres, our first taste of the popular Spanish beer Estrella Damm did not disappoint.

Despite the rough start, we were eager to begin our Mallorcan adventure!

Posted by baecation2016 18:00 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

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