A Little Background
As a photographer, I was always looking for a different angle – for what was outside the usual frame. I knew that if you focused solely on the object – whatever it is – that you may miss its context.
It was a mindset that worked well in journalism too – realising that there were so many stories that weren’t being told; that ‘new’ or ‘famous’ weren’t prerequisites for interesting.
The same applies to travel.
Monuments such as the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall may be sights that are on peoples’ bucket-lists, but they are, at best, snapshots of history. They may point to where a culture has come from, but don’t necessarily help us glean where it’s at.
And as an expat I know that even after more than a decade living in a different culture that you may never fully understand it – what hope is there for travellers on a short stay?
Arguably there’s not much you’re going to learn about how people in Barcelona live by strolling down Las Ramblas. But just outside that frame, you may.
To me, the easiest entrée into a culture is through its food. Sharing a meal with a local is always a learning experience. But even having a meal in a restaurant full of locals can be enlightening. And in Barcelona, food (not just the food on the plate, but the whole dining experience) does seem central to the culture.
So my time is mainly spent planning the next meal. And it requires some planning, as there are so many options available in Barcelona. My aim is to avoid the tourist joints. And while I appreciate fine-dining I’m not about to lash out on a €100 meal every day.
For me there’s a sweet spot in between – restaurants that start with brilliant ingredients (check out the markets for those), and prepare them with care. They’re the ones I’ve tried to include here, though I don’t believe traditional is the only way to go – there are plenty of establishments producing more modern fare that is superb, and you can’t tell me hipster types aren’t on the same page with their focus on the provenance of ingredients.
As a traveller in Barcelona there’s the bonus of an enormous number of attractions too, so there’s plenty to do between those meals.
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