Our flight from Paris to Barcelona was at 10.40am, departing from Orly airport. So we arranged with the apartment owner to meet us at 8am so we could be in a cab at by 8.15am. I had thought we would make it to the airport in good time since the drive to ORly airport would be about less than 30 mins. So we got a cab at the taxi rank and headed onto the highway. I had neglected to check if the highway is prone to traffic congestions. 😮 Indeed, there were congestions at certain points of the highway. The good news was the congestions were at only certain points. The bad news was the congestion made sure the vehicles were crawling. 😦 Luckily, we had a cab driver who was savvy and he got us to the airport about 45 mins later. 🙂 It was at the point of paying the driver that I realised my French is non-existent. He had given us an additional 10 euros in change. Given how relieved I was to reach the airport in time to check in, I wasn’t going to cheat him of 10 euros. So I tried to convey that he gave me more change than required. He didn’t understand me and thought I was questioning his charges. I was about to pull out a calculator when he finally understood what the fingers I was holding up stood for. I must say, I felt good that I didn’t take advantage of him. 😛
We were in good time for checking in. After what felt like a relatively short while of waiting, we boarded the plane. Btw, we took Vueling and we didn’t have any bad experience, hence I would still take Vueling the next time round too.
We had a fuss-free time at the Barcelona airport and took a taxi to our hotel, Silver Aparthotel.
From the taxi, it was obvious that Barcelona and Paris are two distinctly different cities. Paris has its culture shimmering from every bit of it while Barcelona seemed like some effort was required to peel open the layers to discover its true self.
Along the way, we first experienced the warmth of the Spanish people through the cab driver. After driving for a while, the driver asked if we could speak Español (he asked in Spanish) and I (who have taken Spanish lessons for a year), said ‘Si, un poco’. And from there, we started to converse in Spanish. My Spanish was still quite elementary but I could catch some words in the driver’s sentences. Essentially, his name is Juan and he asked about our sightseeing plans. So I told him we intend to see La Padrera, La Seu, Parc Guell and also Montserrat. Then Juan chipped in Familia Sagrada. Yep, we didn’t intend to give Familia Sagrada a miss. Juan didn’t seem very impressed with Montserrat; he said it was just ‘montanas’. Juan then wrote us his contact number and said we could give him a call if we require any transport service for sightseeing. As we neared our hotel, Juan said he could pick us from the hotel to the airport on the day we were to leave, saying it would be cheaper than if we asked the concierge to arrange for transport. So we set the time of pick up to be at 2.15pm. So it was ‘Hasta el domingo’ to Juan.
The husband was stunned that I could hold a conversation with a Spanish! 😛 More importantly, the Spanish could understand my Español! 😀 He was visibly impressed. 😎
The reason why this hotel was chosen was because its very near to a metro station (Fontana) and its a serviced apartment. There’s a small kitchenette with a table for dining. Plus the rooms looked really clean on the website, and with good reviews on Tripadvisor, we were sold.
And again, Tripadvisor did not disappoint.
During the check in process, we were given a slip of paper warning us of the rampant pickpocketing in Barcelona. I had read about the pickpocketing problem online and had warned the husband about it. But we were put on our guard earnestly when we read that slip of paper. The situation seemed scary! We had thought if we could ‘escape’ the pickpockets in Paris, we would be fine in Barcelona. But with that slip of warning, we weren’t very sure anymore. 😯
So we decided to just take one camera out to see just how unsafe the streets would be. We were feeling a bit hungry so I brought us to Quimet & Quimet. Quimet & Quimet is a tapas bar which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor. The location of the tapas bar was about 10-15 mins walk from the metro station. While heading to Quimet & Quimet, we felt the full warmth of the Barcelona sun. We definitely welcomed the warmth after being ill-dressed for the cold Parisian chill. The husband who wasn’t feeling well in Paris felt a whole lot better in Barcelona.
When we reached Quimet & Quimet, it was packed! It is a standing bar, with a few scattered tables. We got a menu from the counter and in the midst of deciding what to order, an empty space at a table came up and we planted our feet there. 😛 Honestly, I could do with some seats after that walk from the metro. So my basic spanish allowed me to understand what some dishes were so I placed an order for the famous salmon montaditos, patatas fritas and another fish tapas.
It was the first time we had tapas, so we had nothing to compare this experience with. But our taste buds had encountered many kinds of cuisines before so we knew the salmon montaditos were good. The patatas fritas were a bit unexpected in the sense that its some kind of potato chips with some honey drizzled over it. Although we didn’t order a lot of items, we really quite liked Quimet & Quimet. The place was very cosy and the crowd was clearly having a good time. It was a quintessential Spanish tapas place! 🙂
Along the walk from Quimet & Quimet to the metro station, we passed by KFC. We decided we could do with one more snack, so we entered KFC. 😛 Upon entering, we saw a man with like over 10 winglets/drumlets and he looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself. So we followed his lead! We got a few winglets/ drumlets and boy, these were good!!! Juicy and tender! We had to refrain ourselves from ordering more since we weren’t sure what awaits us at Las Ramblas.
So then, Las Ramblas! It got really crowded as we walked up the street.
It was here that we really paid more attention to our belongings. There’s obviously quite a number of ‘scams’ going on at Las Ramblas. The most common ones were where men were setting up mats for some card games and they seemed really excited about it, trying to get the crowd to join in. 😮
At the entrance to La Boqueria, there’s a lot of stalls opened. However as one moves into the market, some stalls were closed. In addition, the cost of the items for sale decreased progressively as one moves inwards. For example, a cup of fruit juice cost 2 euros at the entrance but inside the market, we came across a stall selling a cup for 1.50 euros.
There’s plenty of stalls selling spanish ham, or jamon. I was rather keen on trying jamon prior to this trip but upon seeing the jamon on sale, my guts flew out of the window. I just couldn’t bring myself to try. The husband didn’t mention anything about trying jamon either. 😉
When we reached this store that sells a lot of nuts, there was a tourist who was choosing nuts and had some packed for her. However, when it came to payment, she got shocked at the amount of money she had to pay. And she then declined to purchased all that she had chosen and walked away. I think her would-be purchases amounted to like 30 euros. So we took fancy to honey cashew nuts and decided to buy just 100g of it. So the lady proceeded to pack the nuts for us and when she handed us the package, she said ‘5 euros’. Wow! That’s a very expensive bag of nuts!! 5 euros for 100g of nuts!! That is a crazy price! No wonder the previous buyer stopped short of paying for the nuts. But we proceeded to pay for the cashew nuts because we wanted to eat it (and see if it justifies the 5 euros price tag). It didn’t deserve the high price tag. Tourist trap! 👿
Some closed stalls around.
We were a bit taken in by the jamon on display. I have seen an episode of Anthony Boudain where he was in Spain and he introduced jamon. Apparently, it takes a fair bit of skills to cut the jamon into thinner than paper slices.
When we got out of La Boqueria, we continued the walk along Las Ramblas. And then we came across a small stall that sells pets. There were tortoises, chicks and maybe even fishes.
By early evening, we were done with Las Ramblas and decided to head back the the hotel. Along the way back, we talked about the yummy KFC and decided to have KFC for dinner while watching the Euro Cup. But we didn’t see no KFC along the way 😕 and only came across McDonald’s. So we got McDonalds instead.
The husband got a standard McChicken while I was keen to try something different. So I got the McIberica.
Oddly, the McIberica wasn’t nice at all. 😯
And lucky us, we got to watch Spain vs …..some country. And Spain won of course! We’re Spain football supporters! Vamos! 😛 😛