VEGGIE RESTAURANTS AND BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS: Barcelona and Andorra

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We started our trip exploring Sant Antoni, which was on this list of 50 cool neighbourhoods. We had a yummy lunch at Santoni, a vegan place with lots of options for meals and snacks (lunch for two for €14).

Nearby is Fabrica Moritz, the flagship bar of a local brewery, where you can try different beers in an impressive setting (a tasting set of 4 beers for €8)

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  • El Bosc de Les Fades is an old favourite, so we went there as usual (drinks for 3€).
  • Rasoterra is a veggie place serving a delicious tasting menu with plenty of local ingredients. Ideal for a special meal (dinner for two including drinks and tip for €100).
  • Cat Bar: another old favourite in the Gothic neighbourhood, this vegan bar serves yummy burgers and craft beer (lunch for two including drinks and tip for €30).
  • Alive: a cool vegan restaurant very close to our hotel, serving delicious pasta dishes (dinner for two including drinks and tip for €32).
  • Stay: we stayed at Aparthotel Atenea, which is a good self-catering option near Sants Station.

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ANDORRA:

We went to Andorra on a day trip from Barcelona. Andorra is mostly famous for skiing, but we took the bus to Andorra la Vella to check it out instead.

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There isn’t that much to do, so a few hours exploring is plenty of time. The town is pretty and picturesque, and the mountains provide a beautiful backdrop.

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  • Veggie’s World: the only veggie place in Andorra serves a great selection of local dishes (lunch for two including drinks, tip and dessert for €45).
  • Go: buses from Barcelona leave from Sants Station and take 3h each way. Tickets can be bought in advance here.

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SANGRIA BREAKS AND MODERNIST TILES: A weekend in Barcelona

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For our first trip of the year, we decided to go to Barcelona for a chilled weekend. Barcelona is always great, and it was just what we wanted!

On our first day we hit the city centre to check out some highlights. We started at la Rambla and Barrio Gotico, then made our way to Barcelona Cathedral. We stopped for lunch of delicious vegan burgers and beers at Cat Bar, which is great (service was okay) – lunch for two including beers and tip for 25€.

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We wandered around and ended up at culture centre El Born, an amazing market where you can see ruins of old Barcelona.

In the evening we reached Barceloneta, where we watched surfers brave the cold as the sun set. We stopped for drinks at Bar Celoneta, a vegan sangria bar that served delicious food (and definitely the best sangria I’ve had, although I’m no expert!) – tapas and a pitcher of sangria for two for 40€ including tip.

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We woke up to blue skies, so on our second day we headed to Park Guell for outdoor fun. It was a beautiful day, so we took lots of photos. We only visited the free areas, but you can also pay 8€ to access an area of the park where most of the Gaudi sculptures are.

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We then headed to El Bosc de les Fades, which is an old favourite. This whimsical bar looks like a little forest, and it’s an amazing place to get a drink after a few hours of exploring the city (two drinks for 6.50€).

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The Picasso museum is free on Sundays, so we headed in that direction – on arrival the queue discouraged us, so we instead we went to Ale&Hop, a veggie bar with a great selection of local beers (tapas and beers for two for 22€). This bar is in a great area, so we spent some time just wandering around.

And then it was back to out flat for a quiet evening before our early flight back to London!

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • Stay: We chose an Airbnb flat a bit further from the centre, which is always a good way of saving money. There’s lots of options in Barcelona and prices are generally good.
  • Transportation: The metro is the best way to travel. You can buy 10 single tickets for less than 10€, which is nice and easy. You can also get the metro from the airport to the city centre (tickets cost 4.50€), which is very convenient.
  • Money: With the current exchange rate between the pound and the euro we weren’t sure how expensive things were going to be, but Barcelona is still definitely cheaper than London. We also found that there are lots of budget options for food and drink.

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RED WINE AND CHEAP TAPAS: A weekend in Madrid

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We went to Madrid to meet up with a couple of friends who were travelling around Spain. We arrived on a Friday right after lunch and, after taking the metro to the city centre, we set off exploring.

Our first stop was 100 Montaditos, a tapas chain where each of the 100 varieties of little sandwiches costs just 1€.

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We then made our way to Retiro, a beautiful park where crowds gather to watch the sunset over the lake. It is a massive place where you can spend a few hours wandering around and taking nice photos.

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For dinner we went to trendy vegan place Vega, where the food was just amazing. You really need to book in advance though, because the place is small and gets quite busy. Dinner for two including drinks and tip cost 50€.

We ended our night at San Gines, a popular churros place where all you order is some hot chocolate and a massive plate of churros to dunk (6€). It was really nice, but portions are huge so it’s best to share.

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We started our second day in the city by walking to Museo del Prado. They have an amazing collection, including Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights which was great. Tickets cost 14€.

After exploring the museum for a couple of hours we stopped for lunch at Piccolino della Farfalla which served nice homemade Italian food.

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We then headed to the Royal Palace, wandering around the streets of the city centre along the way. Everywhere you go there are lots of nice cafes, bars and restaurants serving cheap tapas and good wine, and in the evenings they all get really lively and busy.

Near the Royal Palace is the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple which was rescued from flooding and rebuilt in Madrid. Admission is free.

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After resting at the hotel for a bit, we had dinner at Taberna de Lucio, which is famous for its fried eggs with chips. It was nice, if not particularly veggie-friendly.

We finally stopped at Naturbier brewery for a nightcap before heading back to the hotel.

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We started our last day in Madrid visiting Picasso’s Guernica at Reina Sofia museum. It’s a great place for seeing masterpieces by Dali, Miro and Picasso. Tickets cost 8€, but we got in free as there were national elections on.

Before heading to the airport we stopped at San Miguel market for lunch. This is a great and popular place for trying lots of local dishes. We had veggie paella (7€), a generous portion of mixed olives (3.5€) and wine (3€ for a glass) and then it was time to head back.

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Madrid is the perfect place for a chilled city break!

HOW TO DO IT:

  • Go: We flew with Norwegian as they had the cheapest options, but there are plenty of other alternatives. Flights from London take about 2h.
  • Stay: We stayed at Room Mate Alicia because my friends were staying there. It was good and centrally located. A room cost £76 per night for two.
  • Transportation: Madrid has a good metro network. Tickets start from 1.5€, but you can also buy different types of passes. There is a 3€ surcharge to go to the airport (the journey there takes about 40 minutes from the city centre). Around the centre most places can be reached on foot.

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