Our plan today was to go to La Roca Village Factory Outlet that is located one hour away from the city. To get there from our hotel (Suizo Hotel Barcelona), we need to walk roughly 20 minutes to Barcelona Nord terminal. To avoid missing the bus schedule, we woke up at 7.30am and had a quick breakfast on our way at café 365 in the Carrer de la Princesa street.
Buying the bus ticket is not so straightforward, as there is not counter visible in the entrance door where we could ask questions. Walking further inside the terminal, we found a reception counter and asked the lady on duty where we should buy our ticket and wait, only for her to point to outside the terminal. It turned out that the bus is available almost every hour during the day and tickets could be bought on a machine located just outside one of the terminal’s door for €15/person round trip. We took the 9.00am bus and arrived at the outlet at 9.45am, 15 minutes before the stores opened.
The complex is not crowded, perhaps due to the lingering pandemic effect, and there was probably only 10-20 customers at that time. But even later in the afternoon, there was much less people than normally seen in such factory outlet. We saw no line up in any of the stores, contrary to our experience visiting Toronto factory outlet just months before.
The complex itself is not too large either – smaller than other outlets I have visited in other European countries or in North America – but carry most of the brands we were interested in. I lost track of what my girlfriend bought, but I got myself a pair of Tod’s shoes and a Montblanc laptop briefcase. The discount in most stores range from 15-40%. For example, the Tod’s shoes that I bought were on a 33% discount, although there were others with only 15% discount.
There was nothing worth seeing or doing in the surrounding area other than shopping, and we were not interest in going to a Nike shoe factory nearby, so after a quick paella meal at Restaurant Pasarela (within the complex), we walked to the same bus stop we were dropped earlier and departed back to Barcelona at 3.05pm. It was around 4pm when we were back in Barcelona Nord bus terminal and decided to walk back to our hotel to drop off our goods, which took a good twenty minutes walk passing Arc de Triomf and Palau de Musica under the scorching sun.
To balance our itinerary for the day with cultural sightseeing, our plan was to go to Tibidabo – the tallest hill in the Serra de Collserola overlooking the whole city. Going to Tibidabo from downtown Barcelona requires several transit. First, we need to take the metro S1 or S2 line to Peu del Funicular station, then a funicular to go uphill, and then bus number 111 that stops on the right side of the station following the exit door. We were grateful that we bought a 96-hour unlimited metro pass on our first day, as it saved us plenty of time buying single-use tickets for each of those transit.
There is a small amusement park in front of the Sagrat Cor Church where visitors could take a picture of the whole Barcelona. We spent our time there exploring the church and going to the top of the tower, first by elevator and then by a spiral staircase, which cost an extra €5/person. Being at a higher ground means there were several good angles for photographing the cityscape. We took many photographs there and were initially planning to wait for the sunset, but considering that we must wait for another two hours before it gets dark, we decided to go back to the city and have a nice meal instead.
On our way to the Chinese hot pot restaurant the day before, we passed a tapas bar called Vinitus with long line in front of the entrance door – something that made us curious. Our plan today was to go there for dinner. But on our way from the metro station, we spotted another good-looking restaurant named La Flautes located in Carrer de la Diputació. Since we were expecting a long line up at Vinitus and there were only few at La Flautes, we decided to give it a try.
The service and ambience were great, and more importantly the food was amazing. In hindsight, we both agree that La Flautes is the best meal we had during the whole Spain and Portugal trip. We ordered 9 plates of tapas and a bottle of red wine to fill our belly. Among our favourites are octopus on top of a mashed pumpkin, a veal steak, prawn skewers, and duck breast. When we left the restaurant and walked home, I had a feeling that it will be a while before I could find such an impressive food again. Must go!