Travelling Before COVID-19 Hits: Barcelona, Spain

Plaza Real, Barcelona; Catalunya, Spain February 2020
There's so much to write about - as usual, life happens faster than we can ever record. I am endlessly thankful for many things. Again, fate and the man up there in the clouds have blessed me with so much luck and goodwill that I am beginning to feel like I don't deserve it. One of the luckiest things that happened in 2020 (aka the "cursed" year of COVID-19) is that I got to travel really extensively in the first two months before flying becomes just an idea now. I was overseas right to the moment before I had to be quarantined for 14 days if I came back any later. I was taking an extended eat-pray-love trip from Xiamen, also, that's a story for another day that I may not ever write.

Of course, I didn't know better that COVID-19 was going to hit us like a freight train. Sending everyone and everything scattering. Life as we know it has ended, gently, and cruelly.

Not every tragedy happens loudly. And the worst of the lot happens silently. 

There is no one to share the grief or unhappiness with, we're all jailed in our homes, our minds, and we're expected to be strong. We are strong. We are still here after all.

Everyone has their own coping mechanisms, some do it "better" than others. For me, I cope by counting my blessings. I know there's a lot in life that could be better, could have gone in ways that would place me in positions that'll make me tons happier, but what's the point of focusing on 'have beens'? I count my blessings. What's your coping mechanism?

I digress, as usual. This post is about my trip with my Mom to Barcelona, Spain in February 2020. It felt incredulous to be there then, and now, for different reasons. I really enjoyed Barcelona's vibes - it's artsy, a good spangled mix of bustling and calm in some pockets of the city.

Mom and I stayed at an Airbnb in Plaza Real, which is located on La Ramblas itself. Even after the trip, I do think it's still the best location to stay in Barcelona itself, being close to the beautiful Gothic Quarters winding lanes, main Barcelona attractions, subway station, amenities, restaurants.

The only drawback is that it gets noisy in the Gothic Quarters at night even till 2 or 3 in the morning because there are bars in the back lanes. This is a common problem in European cities' apartments that I stayed in before where their walls and doors tend to be fairly thin. Every sound reverberates throughout the apartment.

Cathedral of Barcelona
There are many free walking tours around Barcelona, but they tend to start at Plaza Catalunya - unless you're staying there, it's kinda a hassle to walk there at a specific timing. So we conducted our own walking tour instead! It's not too difficult. You can mark out the locations and go to each of them yourself. There are some apps out there, including, Rick Steves app, which helps to narrate the history and significance of the places. You can use my Day 1 walking tour map here (or built your own!) which marks out the attractions within the Gothic Quarter vicinity.

We didn't do all the attractions in the same day because we arrived in the afternoon, so we just walked around to see Plaza Catalunya, La Rambla, Plaza Real, Cathedral of Barcelona, Gothic Quarters, Arc de Triomf, Cascada Monumental and went off for a dinner at Viana.

Arc de Triomf
Unlike the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this arc is built as an access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. It is right in front of the Parc de la Ciutadella. Barcelona is a generally "young" city, with many teenagers playing with skateboards and running around.

Arc de Triomf
Great weather to be in Barcelona in February - it was a cool 18 degrees, slightly warmer than Nice where we flew from.

Although Cascada Monument is not often mentioned on the must-visits in Barcelona, I find this place really beautiful especially in the evenings when the sun is about to set. The golden rays hitting the stairs behind the waters makes for such a pretty sight to see. I really love it here! 

This epic fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella is designed by Gaudí (whom we quickly found out designed many corners of the city).

The gardens were really relaxing and beautiful to be in. Even though there were quite a lot of tourists, it still felt spacious enough to run about. There were some people selling space cupcakes (as we suspect) because they certainly weren't selling to kids. Cannabis is considered legal in Barcelona for personal consumption, so it is not unusual to see that.
Finally, we end off our evening with a dinner at Viana. It is a highly-rated restaurant, although personally, it is a meal of acquired tastes... The tapas and mains were done very artfully with beautiful flavours and of course, the plating is gorgeous as well. I am impressed that Mom was more attuned to the flavours than I am, and she ate much more too. I am resigned to the fate that I have an increasingly "asian/Chinese" palate that I have to admit I prefer.

We ordered the Patatas Bravas Viana Style, Tuna Tartare and a Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks with Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Puree. Turns out my favourite was the beef cheeks & sweet potato! The beef cheeks' flavours are very intense, and the sweet potato complements it so well. It is way more filling than it looks! A Korean couple ordered similarly to us (aka this definitely falls under the 'touristy' restaurant type) - and they barely finished it. We did though, the walking took out most of our energy!

There are many restaurants we would love to try in Barcelona, except that their opening hours are so erratic. Their meal times for lunch and dinner don't start until at least 1pm and 7pm respectively - or even later for some. It was fun experiencing Barcelona nevertheless.

Till the next time - hopefully not too far into the future.

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amieishungry and Facebook page


a travel and food blogger with a constant longing to be somewhere to makes her feel alive ☆ life's an adventure

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