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Barcelona in January

We just got back from seven nights in Barcelona. The short story is we liked it. Some cities we just like being in. Some cities have stellar sights. Some cities have great food. In Barcelona we found all three. We will go back, I'm sure.

We, we being a couple in our mid fifties, arrived about 4 pm Saturday. I'd booked us an apartment on La Rambla, but we were so jet lagged that we got a block or two down Portal de l`Angel before realizing our mistake moving over a block. Both streets felt crazy full of people at that hour. It was an easy walk though and it felt so good to move after the plane flight. We had no trouble checking in.

The apartment is plain, clean, with a view of Mercat Boqueria. It had great counters but much less in the way of cooking equipment than I've dealt with before.

After checking in we went across the street to buy groceries for dinner and Sunday. The market is both beautiful and full on gorgeous and intreging seafood, much of it still twitching. But I was afraid to get much of the meat and seafood because my available knives were all large cheif knife shaped but serrated. Definately not handy for cleaning and cutting fish or poultry. We got salmon steaks and just oogled the whole fish. We sampled and the bought a variety of local cheeses, cured meats, and olives from various booths. We also got, broccoli, onions, and mushrooms. We couldn't find lettuce or eggs.

Next to our apartment door there was a 24 hour convenience store where we got olive oil, vinegar, salt, paper towels, soy, aioli, and wine.

I made us a quick salmon and broccoli dinner and then we went walking to keep ourselves awake until bedtime. We walked down to the harbor and back and then collapsed in a jet lagged stuper.

We woke up feeling pretty good the next morning. After coffee in, we did Rick Steve's La Ramblas and Barri Gotic walks, detouring often, taking photos, stopping for more coffee, ducking in and out of shops, looking for an open grocery, and generally being lazy. We saw many Catalonian flags hanging from balconies which became an all trip feature. It is a pretty flag. We also noticed that the Spanish were all dressed in heavy black winter coats. Giggling over being the only people walking around in shirt sleeves and hoodies as opposed to arctic gear became another running theme.

We headed back to the apartment for lunch where we feasted on cheese, olives, cold meat, and wine. Then we headed off the the Piccasso Museum where we had tickets for 2 pm. In January, reserved tickets really weren't necessary. We occasionally had whole rooms to ourselves. It was heavenly. My husband professed not to like Piccaso before we went. Now he's revised that. He doesn't much care for Piccaso`s cubist period.

Heading back toward the cathedral to visit the Barcelona History Museum we found an open health food grocers. No meat, but there was lettuce and eggs. We debated waiting to shop until after we'd seen the museum, but the store closed in hour so we put the groceries in our backpacks and stored them in the museum lockers.

The museum is free Sunday after five. We were afraid it would be crowded but, it being January, it wasn't. We really enjoyed the Roman ruins in the basement and then kinda rushed the middle ages upstairs.

Back at the apartment, I poached eggs in a chilli sauce made from bullion cubes and ground chili I brought with us. That, salad, and yet more cheese made dinner. After dinner we went on another walk through the Berri Gottic.

Posted by
745 posts

Thanks, Jen.
I'm reading your 'Barcelona Adventure' with interest - we'll be there in less than two weeks.

Posted by
646 posts

Monday morning I went to the Mercat early and came back with shrimp and premade burgers, more cheese, and a head of cabbage and green beans.

After coffee (Yes we are fueled by coffee) we headed to the Sagrada Familia where we had tickets for 10 am. We got there at 9:30 and spent the extra time making a circuit around it. We are not really fans of the exterior except up close, but the interior is sublime. The light is incredible and beautifully colored by the stained glass windows.. We spent almost three hours there including a tower, and the crypt.. Then we ate a packed lunch in one of the parks opposite church.

We stopped for coffee on our walk to The Hospital de Sant Pau. Sant Pau was a trip highlight. It was also empty, so empty the staff outnumbered us. We walked back to the Sagrada Familia before taking the metro home.

At home we had shrimp which I sauteed with a salty ham and green beans. The shrimp was fantastic.

After dinner we went to The Palau de la Musica for a concert. The stained glass sky light was worth the trip. The music, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, was fine but we were so very tired, that we left after intermission.

Posted by
3551 posts

I too was in Barcelona in January. Fabulous stay with La Sagrada, palau de la musica etc. paella eveywhere and delicious. Weather vg also.

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646 posts

Tuesday was Gaudi day. I had splurged and got us fastpass tickets to both La Perdita and Casa Batllo. That turned out to be a very good thing as we over slept and didn't reach La Perdita until 11. As with the Sagrada Familia, we weren't all that impressed with the exteriors, but we really enjoyed the roof of La Perdita, and the interior of Casa Batllo. Following post house coffee, we took a L'Exampla walk from Barcelona Walks. It took us past Gaudi's first house, Spikes, and a number of other Modernists goodies. It also took us through some inter-block passages we would never have found on our own one of which went through a row of what looked like English Recency homes. We reached The Place de Catalonia just as the light faded.

Burgers, leftover beans and broccoli, and a cheese plate for dinner.

Wednesday was reserved for Nick Lloyd's Spanish Civil War tour. His partner Katherine was our guide. There were just two other tourists, a young man from Minnesota, and a middle aged woman from London. It's a five hour tour with two pub stops. Those were five very fast hours. It's an engaging if not uplifting topic. I highly recommend it if you have an interest in the Spanish Civil War.

We had a very late lunch at the apartment and then headed to the Santa Maria del Mar which we inevitably followed with coffee. Then we headed for the Marcat Santa Caterina where we got lamb chops and rabbit medallions. We had the rabbit with mushrooms, onions and baked goat cheese that evening. Heaven.

Once again we spent the evening walking, this time stopping for wine out.

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646 posts

Thursday we took a fast train to Figures for the Dali Museum. It was the one day it rained on us. We arrived a couple hours before our museum slot so we walked rather than bused to town. On the way we passed through a local weekly market. It was all clothes, much of it fake design or brands. The locals shopped, and we people watched. Then we had a lunch of baked cod, sausage, and cheese plate. Very good and quite cheap. I also had thickest richest hot chocolate I've ever had in my life. It was the stuff of dreams.

The Dali Museum was grand. We particularly liked the rock people series. After the museum we had coffee and walked back to the station.

Lamb on a bed of cabbage for dinner.

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646 posts

Friday, our last day, we had intended to spend walking down from Montjuic via the Miro Museum and The Catalonian Art Museum, but the light in the morning was flat and gray and it looked like rain so we spent the morning at The Maritime Museum instead. The galleon replica there is well worth the trip. Then we had, wait for it . . . coffee, and assessed the weather. It looked iffy, so we decided to head streight to the Catalonian Art Museum. But when we got to The Place de Espanya it cleared. We took the elevated to the top of the bull ring mall and walked around. Then we just got tickets to the roof of the museum, and walked up to the Castell de Montjuic from there. The views going up and at the top were to die for. Then we walked down to The Colom. More spectacular views.

We ate out on The La Rumba coming back. We had paella which we found bland. We repaired the meal by buying cooked shrimp at the Marcat and eating it dipped in aioli at the apartment. We went out for wine and then packed.

It was all good but too short.

Posted by
958 posts

Nice trip report, Jen. It reads as if you had plenty of time each day to soak in your surroundings. I enjoyed reading your report and about the foods you prepared. Off season travel seems to be a bonus no matter where one goes.

Posted by
646 posts

It was a great trip. I want to thank everyone who has helped me plan it and our coming Andulasia trip. Going to Sant Pau was the very best advice.

Posted by
1889 posts

I was just yesterday thinking about the Nick Lloyd tour there in Barcelona and it's inspiring me to re-read Orwell and Hemingway now. Amazing to be able to learn history while standing in the spots where it took place!

Posted by
5 posts

I also traveled to Barcelona in cold January. We stayed in the gay district. I really enjoyed eating around 2 pm. It was a 2 course meal usually costing about €10-12 euros. We usually got offered a nice soup, fried calamari, wonderful stews...the Cataloneans are good cooks. I spoke Spanish so that helped us. I never went to Las Ramblas till the end if our trip. It felt more creative to me to just walk and explore, by foot and bt bus. I felt very safe. I met Spanards and got them to let down their big city guards by smiling, petting their dogs and just saying Buenos dias. In Madrid the residents weren't as trusting or friendly. Maybe Madrid is like the NYC of Spain. I did get lost and found a small tapas place, the food was so so, but the owners were very nice ,in a conservative, cold city. They slightly warned me in Barcelona about Madrid. Barcelona is like a sexy, avant-garde woman, and Madrid is like the grandpa (necessary, full of history). I was spoiled by going to Barcelona 1st. Now I want to live there, or in Portugal ( because of better house prices). Have fun traveling...hope I was helpful