A year ago today was the last day of my incredible Barcelona Hen Do, organised by my amazing Maid of Honour Jen and Bridesmaid Kerrie. I was lucky enough to find out the location a week before our departure over a glass of prosecco (🥂 what else?!) and I was super excited to visit Barcelona again, having visited previously with Jen in 2012… and had one of the best meals in the history of my life (more on that shortly). My Hen only cemented my opinion of the city, it’s a vibrant place with so much to see, do, and possibly most importantly, EAT!! 😋 So here are my Barcelona favourites:
1. El Glop, Carrer de Sant Lluís, 24, 08012 Barcelona
We first ventured to El Glop on a busy Friday night back in 2012, on recommendation of Lonely Planet and our hotel receptionist. They have three restaurants in the city, but we visited Taverna El Glop, which is handily located in the quaint area of Gracia (super convenient for Park Güell and worth a nosey in its own right).
We found a restaurant that was full of locals (we were one of only two tables of tourists), and as such was really reasonably priced. We shared starters, but five years having passed and in that time having discovered prosecco, my memory is obviously a little hazy. I can tell you they were good and we enjoyed the cava sangria. Our main meal however, was the dish of dreams, totally unforgettable!!! Essentially a mushroom and cheese paella, with a Parmesan crust – while neither of us were vegetarian (and at the time I wasn’t even that keen on mushrooms – this converted me) this dish was INSANELY DELICIOUS. Total comfort food, carbtastic, cheesetastic, we were literally in our idea of foodie heaven. The picture and my words cannot express the total awesomeness that made me lust over a bowl of rice for the subsequent five years. Which is why on the Sunday evening of that trip, we did it all again, and even made friends with the staff (see sun burnt pics below!)
This meal stuck in my mind (can you tell!? 🤣) and I was absolutely delighted (excited, elated, over the moon – take your pick!) when Jen told me she had booked for the nine of us to visit as our last lunch of hen do. There were some sceptics in the group “you really want to go back there? it can’t be that good!” particularly when there was a little delay on our table and there were other places to eat nearby.
Thankfully we were eventually seated, and the grumpiness swiftly dissipated (Ro! 😜) when this heavenly delight was consumed and utter joy took over! Some went for the meat and seafood options (I went 50/50 with the chicken, which was delicious, but I just wanted more cheesey mushroom goodness!) but everyone that tried the mushroom paella was converted – and literally scraped the dishes clean… (see handy before/after shot below!)
So now one year on, I am still fantasising about the Arroz Con Setas y Costra De Parmesano, and trying to plan my next trip to Barcelona so I can visit El Glop, as I imagine these eight are too! 🤤
You cannot go to Barcelona and not be wowed by the work of Antoni Gaudí. His style is known as ‘Catalan Modernism’ and everything is very unusual, unique, and quite often colourful! While there are many great examples of his work, Park Güell was one of my favourites – situated up on a hill (there are escalators, fear not!) it offers great views over the city and the unusual and colourful mosaics, sculptures and constructions cannot fail to raise a smile in ever the most miserable of tourists!
The Sagrada Familia was equally impressive, which despite building work starting in 1882, construction is not expected to finish until 2030! Bonkers! Wiki Tells me that art critic Rainer Zerbst said “it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art” and I would have to agree – I had never seen anything like it and was absolutely in awe. You have to pay to enter (from 15€) and there are queues but I thought it was totally worth it, and if you can afford to pay the extra and climb the dizzying steps (literally, don’t go if you’re scared of heights) you will be rewarded with epic views of the city.
When you’re fed up of city life, Barcelona has the perfect escape – the beach!
With a great stretch of golden sands and a marina, Barcelona can cater for all tastes, whether you fancy a boozey BBQ boat trip (be warned, lots of hen and stag dos! If that is what you’re after we used this company, and it was great fun), a hedonistic beach club or just to flump yourself down with your towel and have a read you can do it all here!
4. Culture and History
Barcelona is a city rich in culture, with a fascinating past owing to its status as the Catalan capital. (Less than three months after our visit the Catalan independence vote took place, with riots and violence across the city). If you’re visiting and unsure where to start, I would recommend a free walking tour. I love starting a city break with a walking tour – it can give you a fantastic first look into any city. On my hen do, we were particularly lucky that our guide as well as showing us the sights, gave us some insight into the city and its history, in addition to helping us get our bearings and discover places a little off the beaten track.
We took the Gothic Quarter option with Free Walking Tours Barcelona which works on a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ basis, and while I can’t remember his name (sorry plucky Irish dude) we had a very friendly, well informed guide, who gave a highly informative and entertaining tour, despite our hangovers. (See fresh faced pic above!) Even if you don’t fancy doing a walking tour (it’s not for everyone – ours was 2.5 hours and my feet did need a rest afterwards, see beach time!) on our first visit we simply wandered of our own accord and still thoroughly enjoyed meandering the streets. La Rambla of course is a must visit, and there are lots of hidden gems if you wander just off the main strip.
5. Food & Drink
Kind of cheating having already named a restaurant, but I ate and drank very well on both of my trips to Barcelona, in a variety of restaurants and bars – not just El Glop!! Part of the joy is wandering and finding things for yourself, but I’d recommend straying a little off the beaten track and checking out where has a queue/you can see the locals.
On the first evening of my Hen we headed to Plaça Reial and were overwhelmed with choices and unsure which to choose to eat. En route I’d spotted a little bar with a queue outside, looked in and spotted they did tapas and sangria. Unfortunately Bodega Biarritz 1881 couldnt squeeze us in but they directed us to their sister bar just a couple of minutes walk away, where we enjoyed tankards of sangira, banter with the host and a great selection of tasty tapas. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourselves not far from La Ramblas!
If you’re planning a hen do, take a look at Rembrandt Cafe, the girls organised a cocktail making class with tapas afterwards and we all had an absolute blast. We had a room to ourselves, could play our own choice of music, the cocktail making was great fun and the food was yummy (and plentiful) afterwards. We also had an incredible meal in a private dining room at Restaurante El Foro, which was fantastic as once again we could have our own music and being a square table it allowed us to be more sociable.
One last thing…
I LOVED Barcelona, but as with any city you should always be careful and vigilant. On our first trip we got scammed out of €20 while getting the underground, someone tried to ‘help’ us at the machine and we didn’t clock on quick enough. On my Hen Do my purse was nabbed. So please be very careful and take all necessary precautions (for example I never keep all of my cash/cards in one place, so if one purse gets stolen I have a back up). Also, make sure you have travel insurance and your EHIC sorted! But mostly make sure you’ve booked El Glop (this post isn’t sponsored by the way, I just love it THAT much).
Thanks for reading!