Barcelona: Born and burgers at Bacoa

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Lots of restaurants in Barcelona are closed for Sunday dinner, so we hadn’t made any proper plans. Instead we decided to go for a walk, from our hotel in Barri Gotic to the Born district not far away, that went from scruffy to trendy quite recently.

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Now it was filled with restaurant (some closed for the evening, some fully booked) and hipster bars and we really liked the vibe here. I really enjoy walking around different neighbourhoods in a city and get to know the city that way. It paints a picture of what it’s like to live there and that beats queuing for tourist attractions in my book.
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After walking around Born for a while we turned on to the main street by the seafront and saw a packed burger place. Yes, we could eat a nice burger and take a break from tapas. And it was completely rammed with people, young and old, which we took as a good sign.

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The burger chain (they have a few restaurants in Barcelona and one in Madrid) isn’t your typical fast food joint. You order by the counter but get to choose what type of bread you want and any toppings you like to really make the burger your own.

I chose the best quality beef burger, a brioche bun, cheddar and their recommended trimmings and truffle mayo on the side and it was seriously good. The beef was really tender and full of flavour. The garnish nice and fresh and the bun lovely.

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Emma had the chicken burger that had been marinated and was really tender as well, with brioche bun and the recommended toppings. We also shared a side of patatas pravas that were really nice!

Oh, and another good thing. Once you’ve ordered you get an order number, sit down at the wooden tables and then they bring you the food when it’s ready. Much more civilised than McDonald’s. And obviously nicer!

Bacoa, Av. del Marquès de l’Argentera 1, 08003 Barcelona

Barcelona: brunch at Milk and Catedral de Barcelona

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Only five minutes’ walk from our hotel was this cute place serving some of the best brunch in the city. I found this out via Time Out and I was certainly not the only one as we were met with a long queue, but it moved quickly and about 15 minutes later we sat down to eat.

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It’s a cosy place with a lot of tables and a few seats at the bar. It was packed and buzzing; nice atmosphere for a Sunday brunch before exploring more of Barcelona.

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The service was really quick, so we got our cappuccinos, and my freshly squeeze orange juice almost directly after we ordered them.

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And soon after that our food arrived. Emma had the Greek yoghurt with fruit salad and granola which was really nice and fresh. Extra points for serving the yoghurt in another bowl.

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I was craving eggs and had the scrambled eggs with morcilla and gruyère on toast.

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We also got a bread basket just to make sure we had enough carbs for our long day walking around the city.

Milk, Carrer d’en Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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After brunch we headed to La Pedrera, via Catedral de Barcelona. We both like “ticking” things off along the way. Efficient sightseeing – that’s us!

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The Cathedral is rather breathtaking and definitely worth a little detour.

Catedral de Barcelona, Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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I also enjoy looking at pretty old buildings, and especially Barcelona offers a lot of nice facades.

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Some more traditional, and some in the iconic modernista style.

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Like Palau de la Música Catalana; a pretty concert hall with pillars, angels and painted walls.

Palau de la Música Catalana, C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

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I think I prefer the simpler styles though, like these more traditional facades with shutters and balconies. So pretty!

Barcelona: cocktails at Old Fashioned and late supper at Bar Mut

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After our fab (but early; we sat down at 7pm) dinner at Bodega 1900 we found a nice cocktail bar called Old Fashioned to chill in. It was small and cosy, had nice music on but you could still talk and an extensive cocktail list. Lovely! Also, all the staff were bearded men with white shirts and suspenders. Cute!

I went for a Gin Tonica, the Spanish version of gin and tonic served in a large glass on a stem. I tried one with strawberry notes and it was served with a dried strawberry slice. Really nice!

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Emma asked for a fruity drink and received one with strawberries and raspberries. It was good fun sitting here chatting and people watching for a bit.

Old Fashioned, Calle Santa Teresa nº 1, Gràcia, 08012 Barcelona, Spain

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Until we got hungry again and headed to nearby Bar Mut that I was drying to try. I so love that the restaurants here are open late.

At Bar Mut there’s no printed menu, but some dishes are written on the board and your waiter will tell you the rest. You can also choose your fish and shellfish from the iced counter. Everything’s fresh and seasonal. Simple, but not too simple.

We started off with white asparagus that were perfectly cooked, and served with a light mayonnaise, nuts and leaves.

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I’ve never been able to resist croquetas and this time was no exception. These big ones with iberico ham were amazing!

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Our last dish (I mean, we had had a proper dinner earlier that evening) was a this lovely beef dish with morels and a delicious sauce.

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We walked out happy and full, heading back to the hotel in our taxi for another full day of exploring Barcelona the next day.

They don’t have Uber here but other similar taxi companies (the one we used had its own fleet and all cars had free water and wi-fi – so good!) that we used a lot, especially in the evenings when we were tired from walking all day.

Bar Mut, Pau Clarís nº 192 (Diagonal), Barcelona, Spain

 

Rosendahls Garden Café, Stockholm

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Our last day in Stockholm was sunny and warm, so our plan of spending the first part of the day at Djurgården was perfect.

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We took the ferry there from Slussen, walked around and then stopped for fika and rosé at Rosendahls Trädgårdscafé, a lovely garden café. I had a roll with cheese while mum and dad had a cinnamon bun each. Sadly, we were too full to have the proper lunch as we were still full from the hotel breakfast buffet of bacon, scrambled eggs and pancakes. But at least we had room for rosé! It was so lovely to sit outside enjoying the sunshine and sipping wine in beautiful surroundings.

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We had a look in the nice shop and walked around the garden before heading back to central Stockholm with the tram.

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We still had some shopping to make before heading to the airport. It was such a lovely long weekend and I recommend anyone thinking of visiting Stockholm to go during spring or summer when the weather is (generally) nice.

Rosendahls Trädgårdscafé, Rosendalsvägen 38, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden

My Stockholm weekend in pictures

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I spent the first May bank holiday weekend in sunny Stockholm with my parents. It was lovely to see them and do Stockholm with them. Since they live in the south of Sweden (where I grew up) they have Copenhagen around the corner so visits to the Swedish capital don’t occur very often.

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I arrived late on the Friday night so our weekend started on the Saturday morning with a lovely hotel breakfast before we headed out to a nursery called Zetas trädgård. My mum is very into gardening so she was the one who wanted to go, but my dad and I enjoyed the beautiful surroundings too and especially the lovely café.  In the afternoon we came back into the town centre and did some shopping before we had dinner in the old town.

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The restaurant we went to is a very classic Swedish one, called Den Gyldene Freden, and one my dad had been to before and really liked. The food was lovely and it was fun to be in a restaurant were everybody were drinking snaps. Old school!

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After dinner I met up with my friend Carina for drinks at Tweed, also in the old town and we had a lovely evening catching up over cocktails. Such a great bar!

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On the Sunday we walked around the city in the sunshine and made sure to see the cherry blossom in Kungsträdgården. It’s such a lovely sight and a must-see this time of year.

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We then walked to Gamla Stan (old town) and did some sightseeing.

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We happened to be at the Royal Palace at the time for the changing of the guards, so by chance we were proper tourists!

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That afternoon I met up with my friends Mirja and Linus in the afternoon for fika and ice cream outside. So lovely!
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On the Sunday night we went to a great restaurant I have wanted to try for ages; Rolfs Kök. And it was even better than I expected it to be!

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The bank holiday Monday we took the ferry to Djurgården and walked around.

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We had a nice walk around the island and stopped at the café at Rosendal for some rosé and fika. It was nice and warm and lovely to sit outside in the sunshine.

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We took the tram back to the town centre for some last minute shopping before heading to the airport. I like the mixture of nature, water and city life Stockholm has to offer. It really is quite relaxing to go here for a city break!

Wonderful lunch in Rome (Armando al Pantheon)

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Book! That’s my best tips for visiting Rome. Book everything you possibly can beforehand; taxi from the airport, tickets to all the sights and tables at sought after restaurants.

During my lunch at Armando al Pantheon, which is a small and cosy restaurant, I saw the maitre d’ send away at least ten people that hadn’t booked as not a single table was available for walk-ins. So I was extra pleased I had made a reservation (you can do it online so no hassle at all) because this was a restaurant I certainly didn’t want to miss.

I took the old adage When in Rome seriously and had antipasti, primi and secondi. And wine. Oh, what a lunch!

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I started with bruschetta; one with lardo and walnut (nice!) and one with quail’s egg and truffle (wow!).

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I then had the spaghetti alla carbonara (a typical roman pasta just like cacio de pepe), and Armando’s version was lovely. Not too creamy but with plenty of flavour and nice pieces of pancetta this was exactly what I thought proper Italian pasta was about. Only downside was the size of the portion – if I had finished it I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything else, so I ate about half and saved myself for the next dish.

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It was one of the specials that I thought I might try if I could finish the pasta, but when the waiter told the table next to me about the specials I just could not not order the slow cooked veal with truffle. Although really full after the pasta, I almost felt less full after having had just meat, jus and truffle. The meat was very tender and the jus nice and light but with nice flavours.

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Armando’s is, as you can see, small and cosy. So cosy I made friends with the people at the next table (we sat very close) who loved the place so much they’d come back six times during their two weeks in Rome. Armando al Pantheon, Salita dè Crescenzi, 31, 00186 Roma, Italy

A Roman holiday

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A few weekends ago I went to Rome for the first time and loved every second of it (apart from almost not finding a taxi late at night in the rain when I arrived, but I got there in the end).

Arriving to the hotel I went straight to bed and feel asleep to raindrops hitting the courtyard outside my room. Very soothing. Waking up to a beautiful day I had breakfast at the hotel (just before they stop serving it, that’s usually how I roll) and then walked along the Tiber to my first stop of the day; the frescos by Raphael and his contemporaries at Villa Farnesina. They were just amazing and a great start to my day.

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I then crossed the Tiber to go back into the centre of Rome, via the little market on Campo de Fiori, that turned out to be a lot more touristy than expected, but the greengrocers still carried magnificent produce and I so wanted to buy large fresh porcini mushrooms and courgette flowers but as I didn’t have time to go back to the hotel before continuing my day I thought I could make my purchases the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t, as all the best greengrocers seem to take Sundays off.

I then made a quick stop at the Pantheon as my lunch reservation was nearby.

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After a fab lunch (review to follow) I walked back across the Tiber to visit the Vatican museum, where I had bought my ticket in advance, which I recommend anyone visiting Rome to do too. There is so much to see in the eternal city, queueing just feels like a waste of time.

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Apart from the fact that you sometimes felt like a sheep ushered by a shepherd, I enjoyed the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel a lot.

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Some things were pretty spectacular, like the exit (above).

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Walking past St Peter’s Basilica I decided to join the (massive queue) and at least see if it was moving. Luckily it was, and as it’s free to go in you can’t book in advance. And it certainly was magnificent and absolutely worth a bit of a wait. The time didn’t feel wasted at all as I got to see the sun setting over the basilica and could take some nice photos in the twilight.

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After a walk back to the hotel my feet were pretty sore (I walked 25 kilometres that day) and I decided to take a taxi to Antico Arco (review to follow) where I was having dinner.

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The next day after breakfast I went to the Colosseum, again with a pre-booked ticket, and although heaving with people it was a lovely sight so see.

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Afterwards I went to Foro Romano nearby, using the same ticket, and it was as wonderful to see.

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Next on the list was Crypta Balbi and then lunch.

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My last stop was Crypta dei cappuccini, a crypt for the Capuchin monks decorate with skulls and skeleton parts. It sounds macabre but I didn’t think it was; just very different and beautiful in a strange way.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and pick up my bags and head to the airport. What a wonderful weekend.

PS. Sorry for the heading; couldn’t help myself.