Badalona, Barcelona, Montgat, Thoughts, Travelling

MONTGAT – and some thoughts about travelling

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During our Easter holiday we decided to go on a little trip to Montgat. Montgat is a little town about 16km away from Barcelona. The road there is simple: you just have to follow the coastline. Barcelona is a great city for bikers and they are building new bike lines all the time. The weather in Barcelona is sunny most of the year so it’s optimal for biking. If you ever travel to Barcelona I recommend you to explore it by bike.

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I’ve lived in Barcelona now for almost two years and I’m a bit ashamed that I don’t know much about towns that are close to Barcelona. My resolution for the year 2018 was that I have to explore Barcelona’s outskirts more. There are so many places to see and little villages to visit. For a long time I’d been so focused on travelling far that I’d forgotten to focus on my surroundings. When I lived in Finland I was always planning the next trip and constantly dreaming about new places to go. I was waiting for the next holiday to be able to travel and go somewhere else. Moving to Barcelona changed my travelling habits and for the first time I realised that I didn’t even want to go anywhere.

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It’s important to love the city you live in. Previously I thought that it was normal to have this feeling where you constantly wanted to be somewhere else. I’m not saying that I don’t want to travel anymore because that’s a lie but let’s say I’m a lot more relaxed about it. That has a lot to do with the fact that I love the city I live in now, it’s very relieving to realise that you don’t need to escape anymore. 😀 This time instead of planning the next trip we packed our backpacks went biking..

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.. and it really did work out!

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I enjoyed our day trip so much. The weather was beautiful and the hill we stopped at was totally worth visiting. The road to Montgat was very nice and interesting because you see the modern side of Barcelona and also go trough the beautiful boulevard in Badalona. I had this feeling like I was far away from Barcelona and even though you might love the place you are in, it’s normal to want to disconnect for a moment. In the evening I was happy to bike back home without passing any airport security checks or sweating in a metro.

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Boulevard in Badalona

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So whenever you feel like you want to be somewhere else or your next holiday feels like a distant dream, do a day trip. Pack some food and go somewhere near where you still haven’t been. After that if you still feel like you need to leave, maybe you can think about buying plane tickets, but at least give it a try. 😀

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I would definitely bike to Montgat again and I’m sure at least we will sit in the boulevard in Badalona. The reason why I even wanted to go there was that I’d heard that there were a lot of cats everywhere but this time we didn’t see any! I have to say that I was looking forward to seeing the cats but even without cats the day trip was successful. 😀

– Eeva –

 

 

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Food, Restaurant

PINOSA

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Pinosa is an amazing restaurant. Our friend Roger is from Andorra and he told us that they have the best tapas in the city and we had to try them. I have to say that after eating there I can totally agree with him and I’m forever thankful that he showed us this beautiful place. If you ever travel to Andorra, I highly recommend you to eat there!

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When we arrived to the restaurant I didn’t know what to expect. Pinosa is a restaurant that is cozy, warm and has few tables. The atmosphere is relaxed, similar to someone’s living room. Roger had reserved a table in advance and I recommend you to do that if you come with a big group of people. We got a nice round table which made the dinner comfortable and enjoyable.

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The bread you see above is the classic “Pa amb tomàquet”, which is considered Catalan cuisine’s most recognisable dish. Just thinking about that bread makes me so hungry! I know bread itself can sometimes be a bit boring and it’s usually there as an extra but this bread is a completely different experience. This “pan con tomate” was the best I have ever tried. I didn’t know that bread with tomato, salt and olive oil could taste so good.

We got some Iberic ham and cheese with the bread and the combination was wonderful. The ham was nicely cut and it just melted in your mouth. The cheese was super tasty and worked perfectly together with the bread. I was surprised about the size of the cheese plate. Usually when you order cheese you get few thin slices and it’s super expensive. That cheese plate was nothing like a regular cheese plate from your typical tapas place.

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The owner of the restaurant recommended this “Marques de Terán” wine. I’m not a wine expert but the wines from Rioja have usually been good and this particular red wine was very good. I wish I could tell you more about its flavors but I’ll leave it to the experts. As a reference, we drank the whole bottle. 😉

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Since Andorra is not located near the ocean, it’s not a place you would expect to eat good seafood. However, this Galician style octopus (pulpo a la Gallega) was surprisingly good. I would definitely eat it again. It was perfectly cooked.

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Ricardo and Fernando (the Mexicans) enjoying tapas.

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Can we talk a little bit about that “tortilla de patata”? I completed el Camino de Santiago in October 2016, it involved waking up at six in the morning, walking around 20 km per day and eating one small “tortilla de patata” almost every afternoon. “Tortilla de patata” is a Spanish potato omelette which is probably the most common dish served in Spain. It seems like it’s easy to cook since it’s basically just eggs and potatoes but it’s not. During the month I was walking to Santiago I tried several omelettes but this one was in a whole new level. It was nicely cooked and full of flavor. The “Croquetas” were also very good. They weren’t oily at all and a joy to chew on.

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By the end of the night we ordered a “digestivo” and we got this bottle of Orujo. It is commonly believed that a shot of this liquor will help you digest the insane amount of food you’ve just eaten. I don’t know if it helped me that much because I couldn’t walk normally after that dinner, I could hardly breathe, but in a good way. 😀

Overall, all I want to say is that if you ever visit Andorra, go to Pinosa. In the end we each paid around 24 euros with two (or maybe three) drinks included. Taking into account the amount of food and the quality, I believe the price was completely fair. Service was good and since the restaurant is not that big the atmosphere was fun and intimate.

Restaurant La Pinosa

11 C Carrer de La Unio,

Andorra la Vella AD500,

Andorra

– Eeva –

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Travelling

ANDORRA

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Me and my friends rented a car and drove to Andorra after Christmas. We spent four days and three nights there. Andorra is a beautiful country located between Spain and France, it is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe and has about 78 000 inhabitants.

The drive from Barcelona to Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra, takes about 3 hours depending on the traffic. On our way there I thought that the traffic was bad since we had to queue for 45 minutes before crossing the border. However, on our way back to Barcelona I found out we hadn’t actually queued for that long, the poor people who were trying to get into Andorra to celebrate their New Year were experiencing a much longer waiting time than we did. The line was huge and barely moved forward! I highly recommend you to download as much music as you can if you are travelling by car during the holidays. Being stuck in traffic is not that bad if you are listening to a new album or updated playlist.

I also recommend not to drink too much water on the way because of certain situations you might face as a woman. I definitely didn’t have fun at some point due to the amount of water I had consumed…

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City Center of Andorra la Vella.

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This is how Andorra la Vella welcomed us. The day was cloudy and during the evening it started snowing. I was excited because that just meant fresh snow for the mountains. We dropped our luggage in our Airbnb and went out for dinner. After eating we had to do some last minute outerwear shopping since a few people in our group were not ready to face the snow at all. Then we decided just to relax and get a good night’s rest so that we would be ready to hit the slopes the next day.

I was surprised by how cheap Andorra is, we shopped at this supermarket called Andorra 2000, where you can get everything from clothes to food to cosmetics to hard liquor for a really low price.

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The next day we drove to Grandvalira which is the most popular ski resort and the largest one in the Pyrenees, the weather was cloudy and I was hoping to see a little bit of sun but this time the weather wasn’t really on our side. Apparently Andorra is a really sunny place but during our visit the weather was cloudy, snowy and sometimes rainy. I will definitely have to go back to see the sunny slopes too.

When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, prices are average. A day ticket for one person costs around 49 euros in Grandvalira. The nice surprise was that renting equipment wasn’t that expensive. We rented two helmets, one pair of skis (with sticks included), one pair of skiing boots, one pair of snowboarding boots and a snowboard all together for 36 euros for the day. I think that’s a decent price for two people.

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At around 5 PM the weather got really bad but luckily Grandvalira closes at that exact time so we were able to take advantage of our full day ticket. If you want to avoid traffic I recommend to leave the mountains just before closing time so that you don’t have to queue for a really long time. It took us an hour and a half to get back to the centre of Andorra la Vella since we left more than an hour after the slopes were closed. Also if you are renting a car make sure that you have snow chains for your tires and know how to put them on because it’s a long and boring process (at least for first timers).

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Escaping the weather…

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I hadn’t been snowboarding in a long time and being the whole day outside made me fall asleep on our way back to the centre. I have to say that in the end the traffic didn’t bother me that much but I can’t say the same for our driver. 😀

In the evening we went to eat in a restaurant called Pinosa. I will write about that beautiful restaurant later on because it deserves its own post.

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On the third day our friend Fernando invited us to relax in this amazing spa called Caldea. As I had mentioned before I hadn’t been snowboarding in a long time and I was definitely feeling it in my legs so going to the spa was the perfect activity to rest our bodies. I have to say that I’m not that much of a spa person but this one was really impressive. As you can see from the picture below the spa building is massive.

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My favorite feature at Caldea was the outside pool. It gave me such a surreal feeling because you can see the mountains and feel the cold air while you are relaxing in nice, warm water. I had to pinch myself to get back to reality because I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. There were also various hot rooms, saunas and cold pools to dip in. As a Finn I’m always missing the cold water and sauna combination so I was extremely happy to experience that again. Although I have to say that the sauna there wasn’t hot enough compared to the ones in Finland. 😀

Caldea was definitely a great experience and worth visiting. After melting in the spa for a while, we went for a walk in the city centre and spent the day just wandering around and eating frankfurts.

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You shouldn’t touch it but…

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Andorra la Vella’s main shopping street.

Finally it was time to go home. It would have been nice to spend more time there but I know we’ll be back soon since we live so close and our good friend Roger is from there. On our way back we stopped in a small city called La Seu d’Urgell. It is a cute city with funny trees! It’s also the place where the “prince of Andorra” lives. He is an old man who has the power to give advice to the Prime Minister of Andorra. There is also a cathedral that is a unique example of Romanesque art in Catalonia. That church has been there since 1110.

We went to see the cathedral, walked a bit and then continued our way back home.

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La Seu d’Urgell Cathedral

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The city hall of La Seu d’Urgell.

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The Mexicans hanging around…

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I was travelling with Mexican friends only, so after La Seu d’Urgell they wanted to stop at a place called Berga. As it turns out, that word means something totally different and inappropriate back in Mexico. So for them it was a lot of fun to visit such a place… 😀

I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed the whole trip back and forth, Andorra is a great place to visit if you love nature, sports and outdoor activities. The Pyrenees are a beautiful mountain range and I had a lot of fun snowboarding and exploring these slopes.

–  Eeva –

 

 

 

 

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