Following a night of drinking and a good meal, we woke up very late today at around 9am, and we took time to pack our luggage in preparation for the next day – when we were going to Seville. We were out of the hotel door by 10am and took the metro to go to La Papa, a brunch place not far from Passeig de Gracia. The place was selected by my girlfriend as it is popular among young and health-oriented urbanite living in Barcelona. The interior of the restaurant is layered by some sort of a sand wall that makes it cooler than the temperature outdoor.
The service was great and the food is equally good and comes in a large portion. I had a mushroom truffle sandwich while my girlfriend opts for the avocado toast. When we were eating, I noticed that most of the visitors are very typical of the middle-upper class youngster living in other metropolitan cities across the globe, meaning that there was plenty of folks with yoga pants and running shoes. I read a research – or joke – once that it is correlated with the real estate prices in the area!
We walked around the area while heading to Passeig de Gracia (again) because my girlfriend had an unfinished business shopping at Oysho, a Spanish clothing company under Inditex Group – the parent company of Zara. I learned that it could take a while for ladies to shop, so rather than following accompanying (read: annoying) her shopping experience, I sat on a bench on the street before moving to café Farggi that is located near Plaça de Catalunya. I had a café con leche while reading my work emails.
Barcelona is a very vibrant city. I could feel the rebellious attitude of the people, their antipathy towards authority, and the love of street art. The locals in Barcelona dress in bright color, with Christmas tree green, daisy purple, and bright yellow color prominent in the street and almost every clothing stores. There are graffiti everywhere in the city, but not vandalism – of which there are few.
It was around 2pm when my girlfriend finished her shopping and arrived at the café, which means we had to start walking towards our lunch place, a sushi restaurant called Shunka that was said to serve one of the best Japanese food in town. On our way there, we passed a luxury watch boutique and they happened to have a Jaeger-leCoultre Reverso on display – the model I have looking to buy. Due to the weak euro the pricing is very attractive, especially after accounting for the 15% GST refund. The problem is that I will likely have to pay tax and duty once I arrived in Canada that is worth around 20% of the purchase price. Under that scenario, I calculated that the savings will be worth only $500, which is not worth the trouble of bringing the box and dealing with the custom at the airport. I decided to skip it and in hindsight it was a good decision as I had to declare such purchase once I arrive in Canada.
The quality of the sashimi at Shunka was decent. The seafood tastes fresh and was served in an interesting platter combination. However, the ambience of the restaurant is flat and rather unflattering given the lack of natural light indoor. To close our meal (read:dessert), we walked to Pastisseria Hofmann that is located 15 minutes away. It was once awarded as the best patisserie in Barcelona and know for their uniquely shaped cakes. We ate the cakes we bought – three of them – at a public bench nearby.
Since we had couple hours left before the sun goes down, we decided to explore the university area in the Northeast part of the city, initially planning to go to the library that has a cool, 18th century style interior. We took a long walk and a tram to go to the area, but failed to find an entrance door to the library even after going around it twice. Instead, we went to Torres Gloriés’ observation deck and I flew my drone on a park nearby.
The observation deck at Torres Glories is a meh, mostly because there was a steel bar outside the window that blocks the cityscape view and made it impossible to take a decent picture. More interesting, however, is the exhibition next to the ticket counter showing the implementation of big data to track the mood of Barcelona – its weather, sounds, temperature, and humidity on a live basis – based on various sensors located throughout the city. The ambience of the exhibition is very futuristic and showcase the potential of real-time data mining to spy agencies all over the world.
Our last dinner in Barcelona was at Teleferic, a small restaurant located nearby Passeig de Gracia, where I flew my drone for another time from a park across the restaurant. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and pack our luggage again.
We took metro on the way back to the hotel, and had a near-miss accident with pick pocketers. We noticed that there was three man watching us in the metro station, two as a watcher and the other one as the executioner, that tried to discreetly take my wallet in my shorts’ left pocket. Luckily, my girlfriend noticed the executioner getting a jacket out of his backpack to cover his hand before trying to reach my pocket, so we left for the next car and stayed away from the group. Before traveling to Spain, I have been briefed about elevated petty crime rate in Barcelona and prepared one “sacrificial” wallet to give if we got mugged. There was almost €500 on the wallet. Be careful people!