Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Barcelona Day 1

Barcelona Day 1

After 4 days in the beautiful and peaceful Seville, our next stop of our trip was the busy and architectural wonders of Barcelona! We booked an early flight from Seville to Barcelona on Vueling, the budget airline in Spain; it was almost the same price as taking the train but duration was 1.5 hours vs 5.5 hours. Our flight was at 8 am so we checked out our hotel at 5 am and walked to Prado S. Sebastian to catch the airport express bus to the airport. At first we were worried about walking alone early in the morning; it was before sunrise and still dark out but the street was well lit. It was very quiet and I was a bit worried but the bus came after around 10 min of wait (EA bus is every 30 minutes starting from 4:30 am, check the Seville tourism website at: http://www.tussam.es/ for details). Few people were in the bus since it was so early in the morning so there were spaces for our luggage. The bus was clean and it took around 30 minutes to get to the airport. Seville airport was smaller so it didn't took us long to get through check-in and security.  We had to wait almost 2 hours but it was okay since I rather to be early and wait than taking the risk of missing our flight.

We arrived Barcelona at 9:30 am, we followed the sign and went downstairs to take the A1 airport express bus to get to Pl. Catalunya. There was a huge line of people and there's a machine to purchase the ticket with your credit card (if it is chip-based).  You can also pay by cash; there's a lady there to sell you ticket. The wait wasn't bad because there was a line of A1 buses waiting to bring tourists to the city center. The bus made 2 other stops and finally Pl. Catalunya, when we stepped out of the bus, we had no clue which direction to take!  We finally asked the lady beside the bus and she pointed the way to La Rambla where our hotel located. The walk to our hotel was less than 10 minutes and we walked in this beautiful revolving door - Le Meridien Barcelona! Our room wasn't ready yet, the front desk lady told us to leave our luggage and come back around 1 pm or so to check again.  Sighhh....anyways we walked down the busy La Rambla to find a place for lunch.  We didn't walk that far because I heard about pickpockets so we were very cautious since we were carrying our valuables!!  

We were looking for a tapas menu and found Choquito....wrong choice!  Well, I was expected high prices and not so good food on La Rambla but we wanted to stay close to our hotel. Our lunch was two plates of tapas and one seafood paella to share and two sodas, bill was 40.67 euros!!! The paella was okay not as salty as I thought, food overall was just okay.  We took our time to eat since we have time to kill!!!  Alright...by 12:30 pm, we walked back to our hotel and check and the lady told us to wait few more minutes.  We finally got our room key and got to our room....it was clean and modern decor. 




We rested a bit since we got up very early today and then we went to the famous La Boqueria to check it out the food market.  Wow it was very crowded and colorful! We were extra cautious; I was holding on tight on my zipped purse!


The moment I entered this food market, there were many food stands selling freshly blended juices and smoothies!  All different fruit combinations, you name it! Mostly are 1.5-2 euros per cup as well as cup of fruits.


Egg stand, doesn't this feel like Easter?


And of course Jamons (Spanish hams)!


We found El Quim, the famous seafood stand/bar!  Since we didn't have a great lunch, we figured let's have some good seafood.  We waited for like 5 minutes and found two seats!  We were so lucky before we were almost the last ones they take orders and close.  The waiter gave us a card and a pencil to fill out, their menu is expensive but it was well worth the money!  We ordered a plate of steamed mussels (fresh and yummy), grilled gamba (jumbo shrimps), and grilled razor calms.  Let me tell you this, they grilled right in front of us and each dish were perfectly made!  It was the best grilled seafood we ever had! The bill was 41.9 euros and we felt it was totally worth the money! Sorry I couldn't show you pictures because.....well continue reading!

Then we headed back to our hotel which is just a few blocks away from the market. We also bought some fruits for later tonight so after we put the fruit in the fridge, we went back out to an official FC Barcelona store, located right near La Rambla, for jerseys.  I bought tickets for the Joan Gamper Trophy when it first became on sale online and the game will be taking place on Friday!!  Hubby wanted to buy jerseys for both of us so we can wear them to the game LOL!  Hubby got Neymar while I got Messi hahaha! It was expensive but it's like once in a life time that we have the chance to watch a game at Camp Nou!

When we got back to the hotel, we stopped a few min and took picture of the colorful revolving door.


We got in the elevator and two guys run in the elevator...we waited for a few seconds and then hubby pulled out our room key to inserted into the elevator to activate it. We pressed our floor button and asked those two guys what floor they are in, they said same as us.  We got out the elevator and we had a feeling that we were being followed......I began to walk faster and quickly got back into our room. The guys passed us so we thought they were hotel guests and their room were down the corridor.  We got inside our room, double locked our door, and rested a bit.  I then research on where to have our dinner, we decided to go to La Paradeta for seafood!  I heard that they take cash only and I don't want to carry a lot of cash so I told hubby watch out what you ordering! We were in our room for an hour before heading out for dinner. We locked up our valuables including cash and lens in the safe and double checked we locked the door.  We thought our belongings would be safer to be in the hotel room than with us. Not this time!! 

We walked to Catalunya to take the metro, bought the T10 ticket (10 trips for 9.80 euros), took the L3 Subway towards Trinitat Nova, stop at Diagonal, change to L5 towards Vall d'Hebron, stop at Sagrada Familia. The metro stations in Barcelona were very hot, no fan, no AC!!!  But the metro was fast, we never have to wait more than 5 min for the metro. We were very cautious in the metro station since I read a lot of pickpockets and I was carrying cash for our dinner.  When we switched lines at Diagonal, there were metro staff there checking tickets so hold on to your tickets, don't discard them right after use, wait until you reached your destination! We got to Sagrada Familia stop at no time, the moment I stepped out and turned my back OMG I saw the famous Sagrada Familia!  It was much larger than in picture!


I couldn't wait to take a picture of it so we walked across the street to take some photos.  We'll be back tomorrow morning!!  We then walked to La Paradeta which is located on the back street behind the church.  It was not hard to find at all! We got there at 7:30 pm and the restaurant opens at 8 so we had to wait but I was the first in line LOL!


When it opened at 8, there were like less than 10 people in line and of course I was the first :) I walked in and take a quick look at the seafood before deciding on what we what!  The "waitress/cashier" spoke enough English to let us know the choices. This seafood restaurant, I should say cafeteria, is special in a way that you pick the seafood you want, pick your style of how you want to be cooked (usually three choices: grill, steam, fried), oh tell them for how many people and they'll make the correct judgement on the amount, and you paid by the weight (sometimes each for crab). I found out from a review that must try their tomato sauce mussel so we did!  We ordered A LOT!! Three different clams/mussel, two with tomato sauce and one grill, a whole crab (it's already cooked), grilled jumbo shrimps (they are two of the most expensive we ordered), grilled razor clams, fried calamari (two of them was too much for two people), and grilled Finland lobster (the most expensive). The ordering process went on very fast so decide ahead!  With two sodas, bill came to 67.9 euros hahaha it could be less without the lobster and shrimps!

Here I was ordering :)


I strongly recommend that you ordered the grilled Escopinya Berberecho, the middle one of the clams, those are very light weighted (price by the weight) and very yummy!



After ordering, we picked a table, it's a self-served cafeteria style, see picture below:


Our bill and we were number 1 hahaha! The yummy clams that I strongly recommended cost less than 1 euro!! We really wanted to go back for more!!!  The Finland lobsters were 17.65 euros....we never had that kind of lobster so wanted to try.  Well..if you are like us from New England or any place with great lobsters, you'll be disappointed.  Their Finland lobsters were frozen so the meat wasn't crunchy. Well we had to try or else we'll never know right?  The jumbo shrimps were 11.54 euros, they were very good. 


We waited a few minutes and I heard someone called number "uno" that's our food!  I sent hubby to go pick up the food lol.  See the two windows? One for pick-up and the other one is for trash after you are done :)


The whole crab (pre-cooked) for 8 euros, it was okay.


Here came the mussels in tomato sauce, first time I had it with tomato sauce and turned out to be great!


Another clam with tomato sauce!


Two calamaris turned out to be this huge plate, 1 should have been enough!


The excellent grilled calms for less than 1 euro!!  It was the best!  The grilled razor clams were okay according to hubby, not as good as the ones we had at El Quim earlier but still good!


I kept going back and forth to pick up our food LOL, see our table is getting crowded?


The most expensive two...Finland lobsters and jumbo shrimps!


By the time we were finished, there was a huge line of people waiting outside!  Be there early!!!


We had a great dinner, it was a great experience as well!  We took the metro back to our hotel. La Rambla at night is still very busy filled with tourists!  We got back to our room, hubby walked right straight to the desk to turn on his laptop, and I noticed our safe was broke open on the floor next to our bed! OMGGGG I felt like I was having a heart attack!! I looked inside and EVERYTHING IS GONE except our two passports and our house keys!!!! I yelled OMG hubby we got robbed!!!!!  My husband turned to me, he paused, and then gave me a hug.  He said calm down, he walked to the closet where the safe was, it was damaged!!! I went to call the front desk and told them what happened!!!  Few minutes later, the front desk manager came in and then she called security.  The door wasn't damage at all, how the robbers got in without breaking the door????? I told her the whole story and the two suspicious guys who came in the elevator with us earlier.  She called the police and the police came in.  She translated for us and we requested another room since we were no longer feel safe in this room!  She moved us to another room in a different floor.  We grabbed our belongings and got to the new room.  I was still shocked and couldn't believe what happened!  We lost almost all our valuables...most importantly our lens since that was the one of the most important reason for our trip - photography!! My camera was also stolen and that was why I also lost the pictures I took during the day!!!  Now we were left with one camera and one lens! I was speechless....it was the most horrible moment in my life!!! My husband stayed calm and he kept telling me that most important is that we are safe, thanks hubby!!! We tried to sleep since we booked Sagrada Família at 10 am tomorrow and then have to go to the police station afterwards!!  It was so hard to fall asleep, every time I closed my eyes, I saw the broken safe on the floor!  The whole night, I felt unsafe knowing that robbers are able to access our room without breaking the door!!!!  We had traveled to Europe for the third time now and been to poorer countries like Mexico and have been very cautious of our valuables. Never in my life that I felt so unsafe! This totally ruined our trip! Big lesson learned...never get into an elevator with other people when going back to your room and do not think that the hotel room safe is the safest place for your valuables!

2 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed reading your blogs and the amazing photos. So sorry that this terrible thing happened on your trip. I know how that feels as we also had a few incidents in Barcelona and Madrid during our recent trip in July. But our loss was nowhere near what you lost - expensive camera and lenses. And the photos are priceless!! I hope you got some compensation through insurance.
    Lisa.
    P.S. loved your photos of the food in Seville - we were so affected by the heat exhaustion that we didn't enjoy it... oh well maybe next time.. if you ever have a chance to go back to Spain, check out San Sebastian - I dare say it has the best food in Spain!! :)

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  2. Thank you! I'll definitely keep San Sebastian in mind for the future!

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