Barcelona Baby

Continuing from my London post, I shall now go on and tell you more about my trip to Spain, Barcelona. I took a flight out from London to Barcelona just a few days before Christmas. Barcelona has such amazing architecture! I loved all the buildings that I saw and how rustic things were. The weather was not as chilly as London and things there were a tad cheaper because of the exchange rate.

I have come up with some tips or should I say the must-dos when you’re in Barcelona. I’ll be breaking them up into 5 sections as shown below.

1. Shopping

Shopping in Barcelona is pretty exciting especially when ZARA, Mango, Pull and Bear and Stradivarius are all screaming at you especially along the stretch of Passeig de Gracia (it’s like our version of Orchard Road but with stand still stores). Those stores I mentioned (My favourite has to be ZARA of course) are also a tad cheaper as they originate from Spain unlike here in SG where the prices are marked up so damn high. Another shopping place I highly suggest you visit would be at Port Vell. The shopping mall there is called Maremagnum Shopping Centre and has everything you want in that mall. It even faces the beautiful port, how amazing is that!

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Strolling around Las Ramblas after doing some shopping!

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Bubble fun around the city square!

2. Sight Seeing

Sight seeing in Barcelona is a must. The beauty of the city, history and culture would leave you wanting to explore even more. I did tons of sigh seeing and especially loved those by Antoni Gaudí’s . Gaudí’s work is admired by architects all around the world as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. His work has greatly influenced the face of Barcelona architecture and you will see  countless of stunning examples of Gaudí’s work all around the city from Sagrada Familia,  Park Güell and Casa Batlló. They’re all so breathtaking so be sure to have a camera to capture all the pictures you’re gonna be taking! Other sight seeing spots that are highly recommended are to Camp Nou, Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) and Las Ramblas.

For me, I took the 2 day busturistic pass that brought me around to all these sights, therefore not needing to worry about bus/metro/taxi fares. Additionally bus rides around Barcelona are stunning especially when seated at the upper deck. Do check out Busturistic (It’s the blue bus not red, there are 2 such companies doing these tours) for more information! The stop I boarded on was at Port Vell which was a walking distance from my hotel. The bus frequency was about 15 minutes and were very clean! A bonus is that there is wifi on the bus itself! Always a big YAY for free wifi!

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Inside Camp Nou.

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Crossed the street to take this amazing shot after my tour of Casa Batlló.

 

3. Food

Tapas! Paella! Churros! Bread! Seafood! Yum! I have to admit, Tapas was something my family and I had almost every day whilst we were in Barcelona. Well I did have Paella at this real fancy restaurant but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I felt so sick after just a few bites from it and all I did was nibble on the bread they gave instead. I’m not a huge fan of paella partially because of the wetness/how it feels in my mouth… BUT with that said it’s just something not to my liking. Paella is something you have to try especially when you’re in Barcelona.The paella I had was at this really quaint and well furnished restaurant called Elche. The portions are big and are normally shared between 2 pax. As I’m more inclined towards the whole idea of Tapas and did much research on where I should find the best Tapas in Barcelona, well I have to say, I definitely did find the best Tapas joint ever! The restaurant is called Cerveceria Catalana. It can be rather tricky to find especially when you have to walk through lanes/blocks to find it but it’s worth the hunt! (Do check my tripadvisor out for more information on my experience at Cerveceria Catalana). It can get really crowded so try heading there around 5pm to avoid large crowds! Nevertheless, the food is just so scrumptious and fresh tasting! Would definitely urge anyone reading this to visit Cerveceria Catalana as it would be a dining experience to remember, your stomach would gratefully thank you! As for other restaurants, try avoiding those by the main roads with tons of their staff luring you in to try their food as I can tell you honestly that they are over priced and not delicious at all. For seafood, visit La Paradeta. It’s a seafood food chain with restaurants around the city! It is a self service concept where you choose the seafood you want with your very own eyes and choose the method of how you want it to be cooked. There tend to be language barriers so try using google translate or simple words so as to convey what you want efficiently. For churros and desserts, many small cafes around offer them! A ever so famous one would be Chök – The Chocolate Kitchen. They’re more towards selling delicious donuts/cookies. Churros however are everywhere in Barcelona, just be sure to look out for the word Xurreria instead!

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Time for some Paella at Elche.

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Best tapas ever at Cerveceria Catalana! Remember to order some Sangria and deserts too!

4. Accommodation and Transportation

My accommodation was a package deal that came along with my airfare (British Airways). I stayed at TRYP Apollo hotel located at Parallel. I must say, this hotel exceeded my expectations and the free buffet breakfast was just marvelous. The rooms were all clean, toilets new and beds really comfy! The buffet breakfast has such a wide spread, I had so much difficulty choosing what to eat in turn over eating as I just wanted to have everything and anything! What I liked was that their bread were all freshly made and had dairy free/healthier options such as Soy milk, oats, wholewheat bread and freshly squeezed juices. For transportation wise, getting around was easy as where I was staying was a walking distance from everything. Well, if you already can’t tell, I love walking! So for me, walking was no problem. However if you prefer taking the Metro, it is equally accessible with the metro just in front of the hotel. Taking the taxi is also an option and is not as expensive. I took the taxi  from the airport to the hotel (vice versa) and especially after all the shopping back to the hotel when I had too many shopping bags to carry. It’s preferable to take a taxi once it’s rather late as the streets can get really empty and quiet.

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Brother lim enjoying his busturistic ride!

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Busturistic ride to Camp Nou. Sit on the uppder deck for the ultimate experience!

5. Finding your desired location

Things can get rather crazy especially when you’re trying to get to your desired destination. Due to the language barrier and how there are many streets and blocks in just one area, you are bound to get lost in Barcelona. I suggest using google maps and google translate as it helped me a whole lot however with that I still did get lost. I had to ask for directions in a Spanish accent (well I tried my best to sound Spanish) so that they could roughly understand what I was saying. Well big kudos to Dora as I picked up some Spanish from her since a young age! Try asking those working in the stores to help you if you were asking for directions. Another thing would be to roughly have a gauge of what you are looking for be it a picture or street name on hand. I kept pictures and street names on my phone which I had with me throughout the trip.

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Rooftop gazing!

 

Before I end off this post, please feel free to check my Instagram/Tripadvisor account out for more pictures. This was my very first time in Barcelona and definitely not my last! I loved seeing all the building architecture the most!  Every building had it’s unique touch! Gracias Barerlona!

Love,

Sarah

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London Loving

I was in the UK (and Barcelona) just over Christmas and New years just recently, and it was such a great way to end 2015/welcome 2016! ❤ London is seriously one of the best cities in the entire world! I love it oh so dearly from the shopping, history, food, musicals and everything in between.

I have come up with some tips or should I say the must-dos when you’re in London. I’ll be breaking them up into 5 sections as shown below.

1. Shopping

I definitely recommend my all time favourite shop, and it’s none other than Primark. It’s definitely a shop where things are reasonably priced and are of style. Well I go there mostly for the clothes, accessories and lingerie but they cater so so much more such as home-ware, beauty products, confectionery items, shoes and things for kids. I highly recommend the Primark store located down at Oxford Street because it was a walking distance from where I was staying which was in Paddington. Additionally I love Oxford Street in general (tons of other shops further down) and also because it is just across from Marcble Arch station and alternatively Bond street station just about a 10 minute walk away! I advice bringing a shopping bag or those recyclable bags because the bags they give are all brown paper bags and have a tendency of tearing apart so better be safe than sorry!  Queues there can also get really long so I advice going to Primark the first thing in the morning when they open if you would like to stay away from the crowd and snake like queues.

Other shopping places I would recommend would be Fortnum and Masons, Selfridges (a little bit like our own Takashimaya but wayyyy nicer), Harrods, Hamleys (especially if you are a toy enthusiast or have kids) and not to forget Marks and Spencer’s (The confectionery items are all much cheaper with much more variety than what you see in SG).

If you’re into quirky, hippy things and crafts, Camden Town is the way to go! Camden has markets and stalls that sells anything and everything! Well they do sell clothes too but not much! It’s really nice to walk around too and seeing the different types of stalls. I even went into a so called art gallery where this artist was spray painting his feelings/sentences onto big rolls of papers and it was something so unusual but so uniquely beautiful. So head down to Camden Town if you want to find something out of this world because it is possible!

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Fortnum and Masons aka F&M’s.

2. Sight Seeing 

There are tons of sight seeing that can be done from visiting museums to historical sights, football stadiums and attractions! The must sees are definitely the Big Ben, The London Bridge along River Thames, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham palace, Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Oxford university and St Paul’s Cathedral (attended Sunday mass there with my family). Most of these sites are highly accessible via the underground or are walking distance from one another but some are a tad bit further such as Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. Just remember to do some research on your own and do not hesitate to ask people around if you need directions! There are tons of sigh seeing brochures at the airport or even at your own hotel so feel free to take a look at them so as to have a strong gauge on where or what you would like to see! Additionally if you prefer tours, there are even hop on/hop off bus tours that are popular now and take you to all the famous sights. You can check it out via their City Sightseeing London website. (Check out their brochures if you see one as their might be coupons or discounts inside at times).

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St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

3. Food

Don’t we all love food! Food options in London are crazy. There are all sorts of cuisines and tons of options available for everyone. As I’m more towards the health conscious side, I tend to stick to places that offer healthier or vegan options! But of course, I still do indulge every now and then because I love me some sweet treats etc.

Food can be rather pricey (roughly 10 pounds or more per meal) as there are no such things like food centers/kopitiams however if you are looking for more budget friendly meals, I recommend Pret a Manger, Marks and Spencer’s (their cafe offers rather affordable and yummy food too)  and supermarkets such as Sainsbury and Tesco. Even certain Boots outlets sell food items too! Generally all those outlets mentioned above are into the take and go concept and offer meal deals. But if your’e not in the rush, they also have an option where you can dine in. Many of what they sell are wraps, sandwiches and soups. All their meals are well portioned therefore you would not need to worry about over eating whatsoever.

Other food options that I highly recommend would be to visit Chinatown (Leicester Square Station). That place has tons of amazing food and being the Chinese me, I made sure I had some nice asian food. I love me some Dim Sum and Roast meats and if you love them as much as me, I suggest you take note of the places I’m about to mention: Four Seasons, New Loon Fung and Wong Kei (My favourite goes out to New Loon Fung though hehe). Also, not forgetting the ever so famous food places such as Burger and Lobster (Best Lobster rolls in town!) and Jamie’s Italian (The pizzas and appetizers are lovely!). These 2 restaurants have outlets situated around London and are worth the visit. Feel free to check my trip advisor out for more information!

If you’re abit of a health nut like me, please do check The Mae Deli out! It’s an extremely amazing place for a meal or for a pick-me-up. The deli is by one of biggest inspiration Ella Woodward aka Deliciously Ella. She serves up wholesome and healthy food! It would mean the world to me if you’d take the time out to check her deli out! I promise you, it’s worth the hunt. Will be doing a blog post about my visit to The Mae Deli as a whole and also about how Ella plays such a big part in my life as my inspiration so stay tuned!

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Lunch at Burger and Lobster, SOHO (20 pounds flat).

4. Musicals

You have to catch a musical! You must! Just head down to Leicester Square and you’ll see tons of ticketing booths around. You can purchase your tickets or even check what musicals are currently on right now at those booths (go and enquire the different booths so that you’ll be able to get the best deals/compare the prices). I highly recommend The Lion King, Les Misérables and The Book Of Mormon.

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Les Misérables at Queens Theatre.

 

5. Accommodation and Transportation 

Try staying in bed and breakfasts! B&B’s are all over UK plus you get to save on breakfast! I suggest staying in a B&B around Paddington. Paddington is one of the main stations and you can take the Heathrow Express from the airport straight down to Paddington. It is a smarter and faster way of getting into London within minutes. Choosing a place to stay in Paddington is ideal as not only is the underground there but there are  buses that take you to places like Oxford street or Leicester Square. However before transporting on the local transport, try to purchase the Oyster Card (SG’s version of the Ez-link). Transportation can be a tad pricey but much cheaper than taking London Cabs anytime. Plus taking the underground is such an experience! It is not as clean or spacious but it does get you places! I commuted a whole lot on the public transport and have no regrets! On a side note, it is important to keep your belongings close to you and to MIND THE GAP as the gaps can be really huge so please don’t keep your eyes off when boarding the underground especially when you have elderly or kids around).

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Before I end off this post, please feel free to check my Instagram/Tripadvisor account out for more pictures. All in all, London is one of my favourite destinations to go. It’s oh so nostalgic talking and thinking about London because now all I feel like doing is jetting off to London! London calling anytime! Thank you London for making it my happy and magical place.

Love,

Sarah