If I am going to eat something that isn’t healthy, I want it to be worth it. The following places all fit that description (in moderation of course). Here are my favorite gelato places in Barcelona:
Located in Eixample (near a bunch of other great places for food and drink), Delacrem serves up some high quality gelato. They serve their gelato out of covered containers as opposed to being displayed out in the open, which tends to be a sign of higher quality gelato. They will serve some excellent and unusual seasonal flavors. In the fall I had sweet potato and honey gelato paired with cinnamon apple gelato, and it was absolutely delicious. It is my favorite place to get gelato in Barcelona, and they have now also opened a second location in the city.
Gelaaati di Marco:
I had a good feeling about Gelaaati di Marco when I noticed the staff speaking Italian, and I wasn’t disappointed. They serve a bunch of tasty gelato flavors as well as other tasty Italian treats. Another perk of Gelaaati di Marco is they are open until midnight every night, so it is a great place to grab dessert after a late Catalonian dinner. Typically you will need to pay prior to getting served, so you will need to decide if you want any premium flavors or toppings, then pay, then order the flavors you want.
Swiit Ice Cream:
Like Gelaaati di Marco, Swiit (pronounced “sweet” in Catalan and in Spanish) is located in the Gothic Quarter. Also like Gelaaati di Marco, Swiit also sells absolutely delicious gelato. However, they are only open Tuesday to Sunday from 1-7pm. That being said, if you can stop by while there are open I would highly recommend it.
With locations in the Gothic Quarter and the Raval neighborhood, OGGI (which is an acronym for “Officina Gelato Gusto Italiano” and also means “today” in Italian) is another great gelato place. Like the places mentioned above, they use high quality ingredients to make excellent, authentic gelato. They also are an option for after dinner dessert, as they are open noon to midnight every night in the Gothic Quarter and are open till midnight Tuesdays to Saturdays in Raval. Their gelato is even Pope Francis approved.
Amorino has locations in a handful of cities throughout Europe, and they have three locations in Barcelona. They serve tasty gelato that is shaped into a gelato “flower.” They are also very easy to get to with locations on La Rambla and in the Arenas Mall (the old bull fighting ring) at Placa Espanya.
I have used the Hario grinder for over a year now, and here are my thoughts:
My Hario grinder is great to travel with, and it doesn’t take up a ton of space in my bag. Also, because it is manual I don’t have to worry about using adapters or using it in a place where I have electricity. As long as I have hot water and my AeroPress I can make high quality coffee anywhere in the world.
Coffee aficionados prefer a burr grinder to a blade grinder. Blade grinders can heat the coffee beans while they are being ground, which can alter the taste. Also, burr grinders tend to produce a more consistent grind.
I can adjust the size of the grind depending on the method I am using (cold brew, ArroPress, V60, etc.). I don’t need to worry about having a separate grinder for each method.
When compared against other grinders of equal quality, the Hario Mini Mill Grinder is very well priced. I purchased mine from Right Side Coffee in Castelldefels for about €30.
An electric grinder is going to grind coffee much faster than a manual one like my Hario grinder. Also, while the size is great for traveling, it can’t produce a large volume of grinds at once, and it can begin to start tiring out your forearms after a while. If you are planning on making coffee for many people at the same time there are better options. That being said, it is a great option when making coffee for one or two people while traveling.
Unfortunately the shape is not perfectly cylindrical, so I cannot fit it inside my AeroPress. However, this does keep it shorter and it still packs well and does not take up that much room in my bag.
Overall, the Hario Mini Mill Manual Coffee Grinder is a great option for travelers that enjoy a great cup of coffee. I have gotten a lot of use out of mine already and it is still working very well for me.
What I did and saw:
Old Turia Riverbed-
The Turia River is a symbol of Valencia that used to run through the city. It was then diverted and the old riverbed has been transformed into an expansive, impressive park. It is a great place to bike through, play sports, exercise, or just walk through.
City of Arts and Sciences-
Located in the old Turia riverbed is the City of Arts and Sciences. They are a series of impressive, beautiful buildings that house different art and science museums.
Les Falles is a festival that is put on every year in the city of Valencia. Impressive, satirical structures are built and displayed throughout the city before being burned at the end of the festival. Leading up to the burning there are children setting off firecrackers throughout the day, and bigger fireworks and some live music at night. While I was not able to see the structures burned, I was able to see the structures before they would burned and take in the festive atmosphere.
Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart-
The Serranos Towers and the Quart Towers are two old city gates that are virtually all that is left of the old city walls of Valencia. During opening hours they are free to visit and go up, and they offer some great views of the city.
Valencia has some beautiful and historic architecture throughout the city. Their cathedral is even said to be a possible location of the Holy Grail. The bell tower attaches to the cathedral is know as “El Micalet” or “El Miguelete.” Although it was never finished, it is still a functioning bell tower. It also has a very affordable entry fee that allows visitors to climb the stairs to the top for some great views.
Free walking tour-
As I have mentioned before, I like doing free walking tours, and I think they are a great way to get context and recommendations on a new city. I usually prefer to do Sandemans tours, as I have found them to be great quality in the variety of cities they are available, but they unfortunately do not run tours in Valencia at the moment. However, there was a free walking tour that left from my hostel, so I was able to join that and it was very good.
Institut Valencia d’Art Modern-
The IVAM (Institut Valencia d'Art Modern) offers free admission on Sundays (as well as certain hours on Fridays and Saturdays). I thought it was a great musuem, and it is very interesting even for someone that is not a big art aficionado.
The Albufera is a massive freshwater lagoon in the Valencia area. It is believed to be the place where paella was invented. I decided to make a trip outside the city of Valencia with some friends to try some paella in its birthplace. However, the bus system was not running regularly, so it turned into more of an adventure than we had planned. I was able to try some paella at Restaurante la Albufera, and while it was good, I personally think some of the paella I had in the center of the city was better.
La Llotja de la Seda-
The Old Silk Exchange, or La Llotja de la Seda, was built in Valencia in the 15th century. It is free to enter and wander around the impressive building.
Gargoyles and graffiti-
Valencia has a lot of gargoyles on various buildings around the city, many of which displayed in "interesting" positions. There are a few different possible explanations for the uniquely positioned figures. Some believe that they are a form of worker protest against their bosses, while others believe the gargoyles are meant to signify the sins of humans. Whatever the real explanation is, they are worth keeping an eye out for. Valencia also has quite a bit of interesting graffiti that is worth keeping an eye out for as well.
Mercat Central and Mercat de Russafa-
Valencia has some great markets, and I was able to visit a couple of them. The central market, or Mercat Central, is a very large market set in a beautiful building. The Mercat de Russafa is housed in a less impressive space, but it has some high quality things inside. While I was in the Mercat de Russafa I visited Coffee Time Artisan Roasters for some craft coffee, and I also picked up some soap and spices inside the market.
Where I at and drank:
Restaurante El Forcat-
As mentioned above, paella was invented in the Valencia area. I had some incredibly tasty paella at Restaurante El Forcat in the city center near the Torres de Serranos. The service was also excellent, and if you go at lunchtime during the week the "Menu del Dia" is a great deal.
Bluebell Coffee Co-
Bluebell Coffee Co. is a great place to get coffee. I had my best cup of coffee in Valencia there, and they have some great food options as well. They even serve a craft beer made with their coffee.
Olhops Craft Beer House and H2OL Craft Beer Lab-
While wine is king in the Iberia region, Valencia does have a couple high quality spots for craft beer. There is even a place called Hop Cream that serves delicious ice cream made from craft beer.
If you are looking for a high quality cocktail in Valencia I would recommend Apotheke. Apotheke is a great speakeasy with a quality cocktail menu.
Mayan Coffees is another great coffee place in Valencia. While they don't have as many options on the menu as Bluebell, they do serve excellent coffee.
El Cafetin is a nice place to try the famous "Agua de Valencia."
Tasca El Botijo-
If you are looking for a local, well priced meal Tasca El Botijo in the Carmen neighborhood is a great option. The pâté I had there was excellent.
Horchateria Santa Catalina-
The horchata in Valencia is very different from the horchata in Mexico. Valencian horchata is a nut milk made from tigernuts, so it is not nearly as sweet as Mexican horchata. It is very popular in the city, and is typically served with some type of pastry that is dipped into it. Horchateria Santa Catalina is a great place to try it, but depending on the timing there could be a long wait for a table.
Gelateria La Romana-
If I am going to have something relatively unhealthy I want it to be worth it, and the gelato from Gelateria La Romana is. It is some of the best gelato I have had outside of Rome.
Where I stayed:
The River Hostel-
Positioned next to the old riverbed and in the old city area, the River Hostel had a very nice location. It was also very inexpensive (when not during Las Falles). There were privacy curtains, outlets, and lamps for all the dorm beds. Also, the staff gave some good recommendations for walking tours and bike rentals.
Urban Youth Hostel-
Urban Youth Hostel was a good place to stay overall. It was about a 20 minute walk to the City of Arts and Sciences, and about an hour walk to the old city. The lockers are a bit inconvenient if you are in one of the top bunks due to their positioning in the room, but there were roll down curtains, a shelf, and an outlet for each bed.
How I got around:
Both times I’ve visited Valencia I have gone via train from Barcelona. The train station in Valencia is a beautiful station that is situated next to the old bull fighting arena. As I mentioned earlier I tried to take the bus to the Albufera area, but the bus service did not turn out to be as dependable as the train service. While in the city I mostly walked to get around, and I also hiked through the old riverbed area.
My favorite thing:
I loved the festivities for Las Falles, and the paella I had at El Forcat was absolutely delicious. Also, I really like what had been done with the old riverbed area.
My least favorite thing:
While accommodation prices for most of the year can be relatively inexpensive in Valencia, around Las Falles time the accommodation will sell out far in advance and can get significantly more expensive.
For next time:
Next time in Valencia I would like to spend some time at the beach in Valencia, and I would also like to spend more time in the old riverbed area.
I have made some travel mistakes, and I thought I could share them in the hopes they are not repeated. Here are some of the travel mistakes I have made:
Not traveling sooner-
It wasn’t until the past few years that I really started traveling on a consistent basis. I had visited a handful of states and a couple countries, but I have seen more places in the last few years than the rest of my life put together. I would try to get other people to travel with me, but school and job commitments would usually get in the way. Also, I didn’t know how good hostels could be or about using credit card points and miles, so money was another obstacle. I also didn’t realize there were opportunities to do things like teach English as a foreign language in another country. I have met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences while traveling. I wish I would have begun traveling like this sooner.
Missing a flight-
When planning out my trip to the Montreal to catch a flight to Toronto, I glanced at my flight information to see when I needed to be at the airport. However, when I looked at the information I read the arrival time as the departure time. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was on the bus to the airport and tried to check in to my flight. Because it was too close to the departure time, the airline app would not allow me to check in, and I realized I was in trouble. Instead of arriving with plenty of time to get to my gate and relax, I arrived less than 30 minutes prior to takeoff and without a boarding pass. Fortunately I had Chase points I could use to book a new flight, and I could get some food in the lounge while waiting for that next flight. However, I could have used those points towards something else, and overall it was a little embarrassing. Now I make sure to double check flight times and use apps like Tripit that will remind me to check in and notify me of any changes.
Flying at odd hours-
There are some great deals to be had at certain hours of the day. However, many times the “price” I’ve paid doesn’t outweigh the money I save in booking these flights. Sometimes I have been so tired from missing a night of sleep that it throws off the next couple days of the trip. Also, transportation options after landing in a city can be limited to nonexistent at certain hours. I realize now that sleep is not only important to my health, but getting good sleep can also make a trip significantly better. This makes it worth it to me to spend a few extra points or dollars to be much more comfortable.
Buying denture glue-
When I was teaching English Camps in Italy with ACLE, I needed to buy some toothpaste. At that time my Italian was very, very basic. I knew just enough to get myself into trouble. I set off to the pharmacy in search of regular toothpaste. Using some words that I knew combined with hand motions and English words that the pharmacist knew, I tried to explain that I needed toothpaste. She brought me two tubes of something that resembled toothpaste, and asked if I wanted “regular” or “extra strength.” When she said they were the same price, I figured I would get extra strength to get a better clean for the same price. However I didn’t realize what she was actually asking until I opened the package in my hotel room later. What I had bought was extra strength denture glue and not toothpaste. Needless to say, I now know the Italian word for toothpaste is dentifricio.
Not keeping an eye on my phone-
Barcelona is an absolutely beautiful city, easy to get around, plenty of things to do, it is very well priced in relation to other major cities, and it has some great food and drink. It is also a safe city overall. However, it is notorious for petty theft and pick pockets. I had heard of some of my friends being pick pocketed in Barcelona, but Ididn't think it would happen to me. I assumed I would be able to tell when someone was trying to steal from me. One day when I was riding the metro, I put my phone into my back pocket while I was standing. The metro was relatively crowded as it was a Saturday afternoon in the center of the city. I felt someone bump into me and turned around to look. When I turned around the man who bumped into me had a frightened look on his face, so I figured I had an angry look on my face or he thought I was going to retaliate. I apologized to him and turned back around. It was until I reached the next metro stop that I realized my phone was gone and he was actually frightened because he’d thought I was onto him. By that time it was already too late. A few months later I had my phone stolen a second time while I was walking through the city. A man pushed into me under the guise of trying to desperately sell something to me. I put my hands up by my face to signal that I forgave him for bumping into me and signaling that I didn’t want to start a fight. However, he used this opportunity to take my phone out of my front jacket pocket, and by the time I realized he had taken it (about 30 seconds later) he was long gone. Having said this, I would still highly recommend visiting the city of Barcelona, I just take much more caution with my belongings. Now I use the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack and a Datsusara fanny pack (AKA bum bag) to help prevent future theft.
I have learned from these mistakes myself, and I hope this information helps you in your travels also.
Welcome to the Healthy Explorer Blog. If you like travel stories have a look around my blog and check out my podcast— maybe you'll find an extra spark for your own adventures.