A morning in El Raval and first night of the festival
Hostal Balmes didn't serve breakfast so we hit the street of Barcelona in search of some. I wanted to have what the locals here might have for breakfast so we kept it simple and had a coffee and croissant for just €2.40, both excellent and well worth the money!
We headed through our favourite district in Barcelona, El Raval. It is the area behind La Ramblas on the opposite side of Barri Gotic. There are plenty of cool little shops and bars there and it feels far less touristy. As we passed through El Ravel these squidgy looking sandwiches caught my eye, I didn't buy one but they stuck in my mind for many days. What can I tell you, I just really wanted one!
No visit to Barcelona is complete without a visit to La Boqueria market!
Many of the stalls towards the rear of the market offer what looks to be a stunning dining experience!
The food here looked really amazing but was fairly expensive, swordfish was their speciality it seems.
We always visit this place offering a selection of reasonably priced seafood snacks.
These prawns looked great but I prefer them in a nice batter.
We considered going for the crab snacks..
The battered prawns were our final decision though along with a nicely seasoned potato fritter, all for just €4.50 and really tasty.
Plastic animals can be found on many of the stalls making it clear what they are selling.
The selection of fresh fish available here is quite amazing.
Seeing this reminded me just how big some of the fish we see neatly packaged on our supermarket shelves really are.
Anyone for chillis?
There are lots of stalls selling fresh fruit smoothies, I have tried many flavours over the years and they are all delicious.
An impressive sausage selection.
We picked up a couple of fruit smoothies on the way out. I went for strawberry and coconut, my wife went for strawberry and banana, ice cold and a bargain at €1 each!
The market is very busy so it is often far better to head to the edge where there is much more space to eat and drink what you have brought. Maybe not the most glamorous place to tuck into some fresh seafood but this is the La Boqueria way!
One final shot of this incredible market, be sure to visit if you are in Barcelona.
We left the market and cut through La Ravel back towards the hotel as it was time to collect our cases and check out.
I was very tempted but was building up an appetite for lunch so resisted.
So many amazing buildings in Barcelona everywhere you look.
Having checked out of the hotel we wheeled our suitcases along looking for somewhere to eat lunch. This diner looked great but it was closed so the search continued..
This place was directly behind La Boqueria market and they were offering a menu del dia.
Menu del dia is popular with the locals, it is usually served at lunchtime and often the menu is just in Spanish. Fathom out the menu and choose somewhere off the main tourist trail and it is possible to get some amazing food at a great price.
The menu del dia here was also written in English, it included a starter, main course, beer or wine, coffee or desert and bread for just €9.90.
We both started with a small glass of beer.
The fresh bread was perfect for mopping the juices off the plate.
I choose the macaroni with tomato pesto as a starter. A really good pasta covered in a tangy pesto and topped with pine nuts and slices of parmasan, delicious!
My wife choose the cheese salad with nuts as a starter, it was topped with a tasty mustard dressing.
We both choose the grilled salmon with aubergine and honey as the main course. The honey had soaked into the salmon beautifully, it tasted so fresh and we suspected it had probably come from La Boqueria that very morning. The fine cut aubergine slices were devine with an almost crisp like texture, the tomato being a Spanish one was packed full of flavour. We had eaten menu del dia on La Ramblas before aimed at tourists that was nowhere near as amazing as this. We would have happily paid €20 just for this main course and considered it well worth it, an absolute bargain and what a great feeling when you have eaten something so incredibly delicious!
We were offered a dessert but being so full up choose an espresso, this place was amazing and we knew we just had to return again someday.
After lunch we headed to Placa Catalunya station, we had a festival to get to, time to move on to Calella!
Whilst waiting for the train I discovered my wife too had become addicted to Candy Crush Saga. Oh well, we would both be entertained on the train journey at least.
The platform was hot and the minutes to when the train would arrive kept increasing instead of decreasing, eventually though the Calella bound train pulled into platform 1.
The train runs along the coast, there was a strong wind today which suited these kite surfers nicely.
Pensio El Pekinaire in Calella was to be our home for the next five nights.
The freebies in the bathroom were branded and nicely packaged at this excellent family run B&B.
The single bed became a great storage space for my wife's things!
I stopped smoking after 30 years in February and started vaping instead, my aerotank mega was filled with red astaire for the night ahead at the festival. If you like cherry tunes you should love red astaire, available from T-juice.
This red and white tiled street "C/Esglesia" runs parallel with the sea in Calella and has hundreds of shops and restaurants. I was going to be checking the food out along here over the next five days.
Our first stop was a bar we visited last year claiming to serve the best strawberry mojito in Calella, I won't argue with that, it was excellent!
Sadly the bikini here was quite bland, not enough cheese or ham..
My favourite drink, vodka & tonic. Just under €4 got you a quadruple sized vodka and generous sized bottle of tonic, nice!
It was tricky finding somewhere that sold Red Bull but we managed it eventually and certainly needed it, the main band didn't finish until 2.30am tonight.
This mix of really hard nuts and corn arrived with the drink, nothing special but we ate them anyway.
This guy was having some tapas, it reminded me that I still needed to track some really good tapas down before the holiday ended.
We arrived at the festival tent just after 9pm.
First stop.. cocktail tickets!
€6 buys you a pint of reasonably nice cocktail, we started with a mojito.
The first band on were The Silver Shine from Budapest, pretty good but not the best sound.
The Grims from LA put on a great show, really enjoyed them!
Time for another cocktail, this time a pina colada.
Sir Psyko And His Monsters from Austria were the band I was looking forward to the most. A fast and energenic set that went down a treat!
We drunk a vodka and rockstar energy drink and headed back to the hotel. There were more bands on tonight but we were keen to pace ourselves and avoid a hangover the next day. Very sensible and a decision that would pay off nicely!
I was insistent that I knew the way back to the hotel but still managed to get lost.
Luckily we found the main street leading back towards the hotel, even after midnight temperatures were still high.
We searched for food on the way back, the only place we found open was this kebab shop.
I love Russian salad but didn't fancy it right now, I added it to my list of things to try whilst in Spain though.
These looked tasty but just not right now.
Turkish delight, nice but nah..
The clue was looking me right in the face
A fairly small doner kebab served in a round pitta for €3.60, I wasn't keeping to the Spanish theme at this moment in time but it was a tasty end to the night.
Day 3 - Lunch in Sant Pol De Mar and second night of the festival, click here.