And this post is exactly one year delayed...
new years resolution: blog more!  Although this was also a resolution for 2011 which clearly didn't pan out.

For a long time, Spain was one of my most sought out countries to visit in Europe.  I've always heard great things about the sights, culture, weather...and most importantly...the food! 

We knew exactly where we wanted to go first, the famous market off of Las Ramblas.  This is arguably the best market I've ever visited.  It has a mix of produce, meats, cooked food and several bars to sit down and have meals.  At any given time during the day, on any day of the week, you'll find locals drinking and enjoying a fresh meal in one of these stalls... it really made me wish I was a full-time resident there.  Another thing I noticed was how clean and well organized the market was, and despite having to pay a small fee to use the bathroom, I could only be grateful that they even had a bathroom, a luxury that's not found in many street markets.

The best place in the market is Pinotxo Bar, where I had fresh langostines that I still dream about...

And to go with our langostines, as our eccentric bartender would say: MEAT!!!

I went to Barcelona with somewhat high expectations, but was surprised by just how much I loved this city.  Sure I had heard endless great reviews of the cuisine and had always known that Spain is home to many of the world's best restaurants.  But what I found out was that right around the corner there are really inventive restaurants, or maybe places that have been doing the same thing for a hundred years, and it just works. Aside from the food, I was also surprised by the sights and beauty of the city, and on our first day we headed to the Gracia District where we hiked up to Park Guell.  Oh and when I say hike, I mean we took a bunch of escalators...yup.
I'm not entirely sure what's going on here
On another day we went to the other side of the city and "hiked" up to Montjuic.  There's a castle up there with incredible views of the city on one side and the ocean on the other.

One of the best meals I've had was at Quimet y Quimet, a tiny tapas and wine bar. The restaurant is basically standing only with a bar that serves a selection of tapas which can be made to order.  Knowing that we were foreigners, the bartender kindly prepared us a canape to start with cream cheese, smoked salmon, truffled honey and black pepper.  It was a little bit of NY meets Spain and it was absolutely devine.  All in all, it was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had.

I almost never stay at "nice" hotels, but we stayed in a boutique hotel called Hotel Market which was really amazing.  Not only did they have a great restaurant, but they also provided free water and apples! Oh and also, huge pictures of Mao everywhere, including one in our room... obviously!


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