Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cadaqués and Salvador Dalí - Catalunya

The view from our room at Hotel Llané Petit, Cadaqués
There are quite a few options if you are looking for a relaxing weekend trip away from Barcelona. However, there is no discussion that the village of Cadaqués is one of the top attractions for a weekend getaway. If you happen to be fond of Salvador Dalí you will probably already know of Cadaqués where he lived for many years. It will take you about 2 hours to drive to Cadaqués from Barcelona. On the way to Cadaqués you could get the impression that you have made a mistake as the country starts becoming rocky and unwelcoming. However, as you start your descend to Cadaqués via a twisting road your breath will be taken away. The village is situated around a small bay, with small fishing boats and beautiful old houses. Cadaqués is a major tourist destination in particular for the French but it manages to retain all its charm despite the many visitors. Figuring out where to stay before going there was a major challenge for us. After a lot of research we booked a room at Hotel Llané Petit which turned out to be the perfect choice. The hotel is situated at the water’s edge on the quieter right side of the bay with access to a beach and some wonderful rooms with an ocean view (at a reasonable price). The hotel is quiet, clean, friendly and functional. The breakfast is pretty much the standard hotel business which was just fine for us. Hotel Llané Petit is only a short walk away from the village centre via a charming route along the water’s edge. On the way you will encounter many nice bars, cafes and shops. In fact there are countless places in Cadaqués to have a drink, coffee, lunch, dinner etc. from the inexpensive to the more exclusive stuff. 
We went to quite a few places and were not disappointed which we found surprising for such a touristy place. However, we would like to mention two places that we particularly enjoyed. When going from Hotel Llané Petit at the right side of the bay towards the village centre you will pass a cosy little square (Plaça Doctor Pont). You will find a café called Bar Mut here that make a great mojito and the view of the bay is fantastic. The service is super friendly and the food is fine (but nothing exceptional). A great spot to do nothing but enjoy the view, drinks and the sun. Later when we visited to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres we discovered a painting by Dali of this particular little square so it would seem that Dalí shares our love for this place. Moving closer to the centre of the village you will get to the Village Casino (Plaça Dr. Trèmols 1). This is not the classic use of the name Casino and well worth visiting in the evening. The Casino is essentially a big bar that serves as the community meeting place. We watched a Barça game here with the locals over a couple of beers and some snacks. The atmosphere is fantastic and the place is inexpensive.
In addition, to cruising around Cadaqués checking out the shops, bars, beach etc. you have to make the trip to a small natural port called Portlligat that is situated a short walk from Cadaqués. Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala lived at Port Portlligat for many years and you can visit the Dalí house that is open to the public. The Dalí House Museum is highly recommend and will take you on a tour into the surreal mind of the Dalí's which is expressed throughout the house. The Dalí House Museum exceeded all our expectations. We were really fascinated by the house which is work of art and the fantastic story of Dalí's life.
Cap de Creus National Park
Cadaqués is surrounded by Cap de Creus national park with many walks ranging from trails for the experienced hikers to easy walks suitable for families with kids. The views are stunning at this the most Eastern point of the Iberian Peninsula and as a minimum you should take the drive to the lighthouse and enjoy a coffee while taking in the dramatic scenery. There are countless other activities you can embark on in the area of Cadaqués and we have only mentioned the very tip of the iceberg. Cadaqués and the surrounding area is a must see and we are sure that you will want to return to this lovely spot again and again. The Cadaqués tourist website is a good starting point when planning your trip to this region. DC!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Les Gens Que J'Aimes - L'Eixample, Barcelona

Visiting the bar Les Gens Que J'aime gives you a feeling of travelling to another time and place. This hidden gem is located in a basement on Carrer Valencia in L’Exiample. As you enter you are at the top of a staircase with the whole bar below you. The lights are dimmed and everything is kept in dark colours. You will see guests lounging in old sofas and lounge chairs and at the far end of the room a long bar is situated usually with a couple of the regulars having a chat with the bartender over a gin and tonic. Everything is old in Les Gens Que J'aime and it gives the place a truly unique atmosphere. On certain week days the place is visited by a fortune teller that the guests can have a chat to for spiritual guidance (or just for fun). It is a truly old school experience with tarot cards and the works.
The view from the bar entrance.
This is a quiet bar to have a couple of drinks and a chat with your friends. We normally come here for a pre-dinner drink or after a dinner to have a drink before heading home. The bar is conveniently located close to Passeig de Graciá and would be the perfect spot to have a drink after a long day visiting the many attractions on and around Passeig de Graciá. Les Gens Que J'aime is moderately priced and the selection of drinks is adequate but not extensive. There is no food available. DC!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Restaurant Sotavent, Club Natació Badalona - Badalona

Club Natació Badalona
Paella is a delicious Spanish dish that many consider the national dish of Spain. However, in reality it is closer to being the "national dish" of Valencia from where it originates. Paella is a rice dish similar in many was to the Italian risotto. Paella is served in big frying pans and they come in many versions. The most commonly encountered paellas are made with various meats, seafood or even mixtures of seafood and meat. However, there are many different regional paella specialties that you will encounter when travelling in Catalunya and Spain. The trick with paella is to find a restaurant that is good at preparing it. Just imagine the consequences of bad sea food paella. You really don’t want to go there.
The waiter at Restaurant Sotavent serving our paella.
There are several places in and around Barcelona that will serve a decent paella. However, for the ultimate big city paella experience we have a secret favourite spot that we are going to reveal. In a previous post we were comparing the beach in Barcelona to the beach in Badalona. Well now you have another good reason to go on a trip to the beach in Badalona: Restaurant Sotavent located in Club Natació Badalona. This is a fantastic spot with an amazing view and very good paella at a reasonable price. The restaurant is placed right on the beach just around the corner from the train station so it’s easy to find.
Enter Club Natació Badalona from the land side and go to the first floor where the restaurant is situated. We normally come here for lunch and on a sunny day it is highly recommended to get a table outside so you can enjoy the amazing view of the beach and Barcelona down the coast. They make a fantastic paella marinera (seafood paella) that is highly recommended.
Paella marinera. Bon profit!
Remember to keep an eye out for their menu deals. On certain days of the week a three course menu with a bottle of wine is available for about 13 Euros per person. Also this is one of the best spots we know of to have chipirones (fried baby squid) which is a fantastic snack or starter in combination with a salad. If rice isn't your thing you could consider having a so called fideuà which basically is the noodle equivalent of paella. Bon Profit. DC!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pa amb tomàquet

Pa amb tomàquet (literally translated as “Bread with Tomato”) represents one of the most traditional and simple Catalan recipes. The best way to prepare it, it is to get some nice bread (not the black Danish stuff ;) and toast it a bit. Then, you should rub some garlic and tomato on top. Finally, it’s seasoned with olive oil and salt.
Pa amb tomàquet can be eaten alone but usually it’s served with some sort of sausage (“embotits” in Catalan) like fuet and xoriço or ham, cheese or anything that fits your taste. This is basically how Catalans prepare a sandwich. Our favorite combo is ham with brie…mmmmhhhh !!!!!!. This dish can be “cooked” for breakfast, lunch or dinner or anytime you feel like a snack ;) DC!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FC Barcelona - Visca el Barça!

FC Barcelona is not just another football team. 

FC Barcelona or Barça (as they call it) is a symbol of cultural identity to the majority of Catalans. When FC Barça plays Real Madrid, it is referred to as a Clásico and to Spaniards and Catalans alike this is no longer just sport but also politics. FC Barça's slogan sums it up neatly: "més que un club" meaning, more than just a club. Regardless of what you may think about all this it is undeniable that La Liga (The Spanish football league) is one of the best in the world. If at all possible you should attempt to see a game at Camp Nou when in Barcelona. It is an amazing experience to be part of 90,000 Catalans cheering their team on.
FC Barça vs. Celta de Vigo 3-11-2012. FCB won 3-1.
Tickets can be purchased via the official FC Barca website here. If you are a fan you obviously need to get your own FC Barcelona shirt with your favourite players name printed on the back. These can be purchased from a number of places. Most commonly people head to one of the official FC Barcelona shops such as the one located at Camp Nou or at Plaça Catalunya. To avoid the tourist madness in the official stores, it is highly recommended to head to a Base Benito Sports Shop
Here you will receive a friendly and personal service without a bunch of tourists breathing down your neck. All the FC Barça shirts with print are made on the spot in less than 15 min. There are 9 Benito Sports Shops throughout Barcelona. The most convenient shops for most visitors are the ones located at Les Arenas (Plaça Espanya) and the shop on Rambla Catalunya (close to Plaça Catalunya). DC! 

Samsara - Gràcia, Barcelona

For table reservation call: 93 285 36 88
There is no getting around that bohemian Gràcia is our favourite part of Barcelona.
Gràcia is a lively and noisy neighbourhood with narrow streets, cool little shops selling everything you can imagine and busy squares that you stumble upon when you least expect it. We have many places here that we love to visit including Kibuka that we described in an earlier postSamsara is a restaurant that we have visited many times. The place is unique with its decor that reminds us of Northern Africa. Regular tables have been replaced with low sofa tables and instead of chairs the seats are cushions or stools. As so many other places Samsara is a tapes restaurant but what distinguishes Samsara is that they don't serve the normal stuff that you get everywhere else. Their dishes are best described as experimental tapes drawing inspiration from the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. It is a real gourmet experience and an unbelievably cheap restaurant considering how delicious everything they serve is. Samsara is a must visit place. It is always full and there is virtually always a queue of people outside hoping to get a table. In other words remember to book a table in advance or be prepared for a long wait. They normally have a fantastic menu deal for two that includes a bottle of wine or cava and more than enough food but you have to ask them for the menu deal as it isn't advertised. Try their hamburgesas with molten cheese inside and a fantastic tomato topping or the tuna tartar or really just about anything on the menu. Nothing has disappointed us thus far. The only drawback we can come up with is that they don't serve coffee. Very odd but fortunately there are many places close by that will serve you a cafe sol (espresso) or tallat (cortado). DC!

The Beach - Barcelonetta vs. Badalona

Barceloneta beach looking towards Port Olímpic
The ability to combine shopping on Rambla de Catalunya, with chilling out on the beach, followed by drinks in El Raval and dinner in Gràcia on the same day makes Barcelona a unique European holiday destination. A really nice beach within walking distance from the city centre means that you can pretty much do whatever you want when in Barcelona without having to plan anything in advance. The beach we are referring to here is located in Barceloneta. It is easy to get to the beach on foot, however, depending on where in Barcelona you are located you may want to take the Metro to Barceloneta station or get a bus that will take you there. The beach is nice and clean with several chiringuitos (beach bars)  and a string of regular bars and restaurants at both ends. We often have a quick trip to the beach in Barceloneta if we have an hour or two to spare but there are some down sides that should be mentioned. Firstly, it is crawling with tourists, secondly there are some terrible restaurants in Barceloneta that you should avoid (good places will be recommended in separate posts), and thirdly there are countless very annoying people constantly trying to sell you everything from beer, massages, henna tattoo's, fruit, mojitos etc. Personally, we suggest that you don't buy anything from these guys except maybe water, beer or a soft drink in an unopened can/bottle. Moreover, keep a good eye on your belongings as it is quite common to have your stuff stolen in Barceloneta and around Port Olimpic. Despite these draw backs it is truly amazing that you can just stroll down to the beach from Barcelona city centre for a swim and a mojito in one of the chiringuitos.
Badalona beach in November
If you get tired of the tourist madness in Barceloneta and feel like a nice and civilised day at the beach there is an excellent alternative not too far away. Just north of Barcelona the city of Badalona is located. Badalona has a great beach, with nice chiringuitos, restaurants and bars and none of the touristic nuisances you are exposed to in Barceloneta. Unlike Barceloneta in Badalona you will find almost exclusively Catalans at the beach. The beach is easily reached by train from Barcelona Sants railway station. Very conveniently the train station in Badalona is located right next to the beach. Moreover, there is a fantastic restaurant on the beach in Badalona that in itself is worth the trip (Club Natació Badalona that we will cover in a separate post). DC!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cor Caliu - L'Exiample, Barcelona

Cor Caliu is one of Barcelona's little gems that has escaped the notice of guide books despite being on the route that connects Casa Milà and Sagrada Família. We are absolutely in love with Cor Caliu because of its laid back atmosphere and fantastic food. Although there are only few tables outside you can almost always get a place straight away. We have had countless breakfast/brunch trips to Cor Caliu enjoying the sun at one of their tables and watching the cars, bikes, Catalans, tourists etc. moving up and down Carrer Mallorca. For breakfast all their flautas (flutes) are fantastic. Our favourites are the french omelet (Flauta amb truita francesa) and the sobrassada and brie flauta (You really have to try sobrassada. Best described as a soft sausage/red meat paste. A specialty from Mallorca). The Cor Caliu patatas bravas are excellent with a really nice and spicy sauce, the salads are delicious (not the healthy green kind of salad you might expect. They are stuffed with meat, seafood cheese and dressings. Try out the plate with four different salads), and the pa amb tomaquet (tomato bread) is also superb.  Cor Caliu is also great for dinner. One of our dinner favourites is the Hamburgesa. As a tourist you may think this is a burger but that is not the case. When Catalans talk about Hamburgesa they normally just refer to the meat. No salad, bread etc. Just a fantastic hamburger patty. At Cor Caliu served with soft onions and unlike Denmark where minced meat has to be cooked to death you can have this one rare because they make fresh mince from good quality beef on the spot. We recommend the Hamurgesa rare (poc), with Bravas and a glass of red wine (vi negre). An English menu is available on request and the place is moderatley priced. Enjoy - Bon profit! DC!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Welcome to Molt Bé, No? a blog about Catalunya. In our opinion there are some OK guide book to Barcelona but there really aren't any good ones to Catalunya. Generally, the guide books all focus on the same things and recommend the same places. If you enjoy to hang out with hordes of other tourists the guide books are great. Here we will let you know about places we have been to and stuff we have done that we really enjoyed. Visca Catalunya! DC!