Susanne and I got back home to the U.S. and we had time to reflect on our wonderful trip to Spain. Learning about the history of Spain, the different cultures, the friendly people, the politics and the art were all amazing. Viewing the incredible art and architecture in Spain was unforgettable. Oh, and the great food!
In Spain, “vegetal” sandwiches have tuna (and you have to explain to waiters that you do not eat meat OR tuna–”no atun”), lentils are cooked with ham, and some vegetarian restaurants have limited vegan options. Oh yeah, and there are ham hocks hanging everywhere. Guh-ross. However, eating vegan in Spain is a totally survivable experience–actually we discovered eating vegan in Spain was hugely enjoyable. Susanne described Spain as a “vegan paradise!” ¿Que sabía? Susanne and I found many Spanish vegan restaurants to be on-par with those in NYC, Philadelphia, DC, San Francisco, etc…
We found plenty of standard Spanish fare in vegan versions–tapas, paella, chorizo, and even ham! Not to mention we found chocolate cake, gelato, tofu, seitan, veggie burgers, and so many other things any vegan could ever hope to eat. Some of my all time favorite restaurants were Kimpira in Valencia and Juicy Jones in Barcelona. One of Susanne’s all time favorites was Yerba Buena in Madrid. We both loved Organic in Barcelona but Gopal in Barcelona takes the (vegan chocolate) cake for number 1.
We have a list of all the vegetarian and vegan restaurants we went to here.
Being a Vegan in Spain (resources):
I definitely advise a vegan traveler in Spain to find all the vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the city they are going, print out a list, know what time places are open (Spain can have tricky hours compared to US standards), and learn where the restaurants are on your map. Learn food words so you don’t order something that is an animal and so you don’t miss out on ordering something that isn’t. Resourcefulness is key!
And remember, there is always falafel. And gazpacho. Lots and lots of gazpacho.
Two nights ago, Susanne and I stopped by La Almatea for dinner. We saw the Happy Cow listing and noticed that the vegetarian restaurant was listed in a couple guide books so we thought it must be good. We checked the menu upon arriving and were not impressed–plus no vino. We decided to head back to Juicy Jones, for a meal we knew we would love for almost half the price. Ha. I have a nagging feeling that I should try to check out as many restaurants as possible, but the places we have checked out in Barcelona and so good we feel the need to go back!
OUR LAST DAY IN SPAIN! Yesterday we went to the Museu Picasso. The Museu Picasso lacks the more popular cubist pieces, but the museum is definitely worth a visit. The museum provides light on how vast the artists range is. Susanne, not being previously aware of this body of work, really enjoyed Picasso’s avant-garde paintings. After just visiting the Prado, and seeing Valasquez’ Las Meninas, I thought it was really fun to see Picasso’s interpretations of the piece.
Sabortes and Pin-up Girl
Las Meninas After Valasquez
I had to stop myself from buying this.
I thought I might not like this museum because of the lack of cubism, but this was one of my favorite collections of Picasso. Watching the artist progress in skill and throughout history was muy interesante.
In the evening, we bid Barcelona adieu with a final flamenco show. We presumed flamenco in Catalonia would be a little tourist-y as flamenco is an Andalusian thing. The audience was definitely full of tourists, however the dancer was incredible and the venue was still nice and small.
We then went to dinner at Organic (yes–again!). Afterwards, we went for one last stroll down La Rambla. So sad to leave, but it was a perfect good bye to Catalonia.
Today, Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting. ¡Viva Catalonia! I am so excited–two very happy goodbyes!
Last night, Stephanie and I ate at Organic, and had a wonderful surprise at this amazing vegetarian restaurant. Almost the entire menu is vegan. Stephanie and I shared two dishes, a tapas plate and a seitan wok, both were incredible. The seitan was without a doubt the best of our trip; very soft and juicy! I would rank it on par with seitan you might find in a top New York restaurant!
Seitan Wok. Not asian, but so delicious.
Tapas Platter: Battered fried vegetables, delicious hummus, avocado and tomato salad, rissoto, fritter/veggie patty thing, and a garden salad!
We spent our second to last day lounging on Barcelonetta beach and brought sandwiches from Gopal. A hot sunny day but very relaxing!
Last night, Susanne and I went to a god-awful night club, Razzmatazz. We thought it would be fun because it is gigantic and there are several different floors with different music. But ew. The place was gross and sweaty and full of 20 year olds making out. No thanks. We insisted on getting our money’s worth (and attempting to burn the calories we ate from Gopal) so we stayed and tried to find a reasonable corner to dance in.
lookin’ happy, feelin’ grossed out and sweaty
In the morning, we went on a walk through the Barri Gotic area. The neighborhood houses Barcelona’s gothic and medieval architecture-a huge change from the modernista Barcelona we have been experiencing.
Today, we had lunch at Juicy Jones, an all vegan restaurant with an extensive juice bar that also serves organic beer. It was so delicious and everyone working there was incredibly friendly. The vegan restaurants in Barcelona are awesome and full of awesome people! And the prices are great and you get a ton of food!
Roasted red pepper, olive tapenade salad
Roasted tofu tapas
Juicy Jones is beautifully decorated. There is so much to look at.
After lunch we headed for La Rambla, a long street in Barcelona with a lot of shops and street vendors and famous for their street performers:
After walking for a bit we relaxed in the beautiful Placa Catalunya:
We went back to Gopal to get some take away food for a picnic at the beach tomorrow. This time my camera worked so we could take a picture of their glorious chocolate cake!
Happy at Gopal!
Susanne and I got an early start this morning. We were out the door at 11 am! Aside from times we absolutely had to make a train, I think this is our record!
We went to see more Gaudi architecture. We saw the beautiful, but horrendously overcrowded Park Guell. Let me tell you, the tourists are all over that famous lizard. We then went to the Casa Mila (pedrea), a beautiful apartment building where people actually live. I can’t decide whether living in Casa Mila would be awesome or unbearable due to the hoards of people.
The highlight of our day–lunch! We went to Gopal, an all vegan take away shop with a small store. After changing my battery yesterday, my camera died on me. !Que terrible! We got a few pictures, but didn’t take pictures of our delicious sandwiches. Susanne got a chicken seitan cheeseburger and I got a chicken sandwich with avocado. AND we got an amazing chocolate cake! The chocolate cake’s middle layer was a chocolate frosting with crispy crumbled crepes. You heard me. And a chocolate raspberry frosting on top. ohmygod. Susanne says Gopal’s chocolate cake is her favorite chocolate cake that she has ever had. We got to meet the baker, Tony, and while we gushed over his genius, we found out he had visited the US and tried Vegan Treats and Sticky Fingers baked goods.
mini cheesecakes, custard tarts, and lemon meringue
so many burgers, so little time….
yep, i found it. vegan chorizo, ham, chicken, cheeses….
The place was filled with a bunch of activists from Igualdad Animal, an animal rights group in Barcelona. They were getting lunch after their weekly demonstration. It was so fun to see such a lively group of activists from another country.
Gopal is by far our favorite restaurant we have been to in Spain. The food and the people made Gopal unforgettable.
After all the excitement, we headed for our roof deck pool and then a siesta.
and then more excitement…. Susanne’s sister, Christine, whom we thought would be in Italy, sent Susanne an e-mail saying she would be in Barcelona for 24 hours. We met up with Christine at her swanky hotel in Plaza Catyluna.
Not being very hungry (and since we had left overs from Gopal), we stopped for a small bite at Vegetalia. We had a delicious seitan kebab.
Once Susanne and I arrived in Barcelona, we checked into our hotel which doubles as student accommodation.We think it is funny because our room is exactly like a dorm. We quickly headed out for lunch as it was nearing 4 PM and many restaurants in Spain close from 4-9. We wandered back up and down C/ Roger de Flor but eventually found our destination! Acro Iris is super convenient for its location right near the Sagarada Familia and not to far away from Casa Mila (two Gaudi staples). Acro Iris is run by an incredibly cute Catalan man, who gave us looks when we told him we were veganos, but he accommodated us and the food was great! We got the set plato de dia for 9 euro which included gazpacho, a potato entree, a delicious fava bean dish and he gave us a ton of fresh fruit for dessert.
After lunch and the a visit to the Sagrada Familia, we went back to our room to siesta. Later we ventured out to an all vegan bar, Cat Bar (actually they have cow’s milk for coffee but otherwise it is vegan…) It was so awesome! It is British run, and plays old punk, indie, etc, is decorated with records and cat themed art, and has artists sitting about looking through each other’s portfolios. Oh, and cava for 1 euro AND the owner gave us two glasses for free! Of course, Susanne and I find British pub food on our first day in Barcelona. And, of course I insist on ordering sparkling wine in a pub.
Beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausage on toast.
Burgers and chips!
Is that a Clockwork Orange cat? Yes, yes it is.
Tips to feed the Cat. Very compelling.
After walking around the beautiful Cathedral Barri Gothic, Susanne thought we should check out a particular street. On our walk back down the street she found…wait…what could it be?….VEGAN GELATO! YES!!!! AMAZING. We weren’t hungry at alllll but we had to indulge! So we split a small chocolate and coffee flavor. Gelaaati! had 4 vegan gelato flavors and about 6 flavors of sorbetto and 3 flavors of granita (the mojito flavor looked really great). It’s as if Susanne has a 6th sense for detecting vegan ice cream. I think she can make a career of it.
Beautiful Barri Gothic
What a day!
Our trip to Valencia being so short meant we couldn’t try many great looking vegetarian restaurants. I wish we could have stayed longer!
Before dinner, we had the regional beverage, Agua de Valencia, which is pretty much a mimosa plus vodka. What a plus!
We went to La Luna for dinner. The prices are really good (almost as good as Maoz), the food is great, and the people are friendly. The menu is very small though.
After that we checked out some cafe with this on their wall:
Cute little sperm! We had two super strong mojitos and had a strained, yet entertaining conversation with some locals.
Valencia definitely has some real annoyances. All the streets are super narrow alleys (supposedly because the Muslims wanted to travel throughout the city unseen), and the street have different names (Valencian) then the names on maps (Spanish). Why, why would they do this?! It made me feel like I was going crazy.
HOWEVER, I was surprised at how much I loved Valencia! Valencia has amazing beaches that are warm and great for swimming. Oh, and all the cool street art makes getting lost a little bit more enjoyable. And, Valencia is so full of interesting history. Valencia was often the epicenter of Spain–both during Moorish rule and Catholic Rule as well as the capital of Spain during the Spanish Civil war.
After the Catholics finally succeeded in conquering Spain, the Catholics tended to tear everything down. (In fact, in Spain any time there is a conflict, the victors tear or burn stuff down). In Valencia, one can see signs of Moorish control over Spain. Such as this Moorish arch. The inscription thanks Valencia for not destroying the arch.
In some places you find sites preserving roman ruins. Take a look at this awesome wall that has random statute pieces cemented in it.
Valencia is kinda funny too–it appears to be an incredibly Catholic city with spectacular looking churches and nuns and priests wandering around….yet Valencia is very liberal and diverse. Gay culture is everywhere and the mayor is a lesbian! Wanting to accommodate the blind, many of the city’s monuments have miniature models (meant to be felt) placed next to a braille description on the monument.
And if you go to Valencia and see horchaterias—horchata is vegan! and different from the stuff in the US and Mexico (made from rice). Valencian horchata is made from tiger nuts and sugar, so get a horchata and go (tiger) nuts!
I can’t believe we are off to Barcelona! 5 more days in Spain!
After arriving in Valencia yesterday, Stephanie and I had an all macro vegan lunch at Kimpira. Such a well balanced meal with a soup, veggies, rice, and tofu. Of course I had to order the chocolate pie for dessert.
We also visited the Modern Art Museum. The highlight was the amazing sculpture outside. It turned out there were only two galleries open but for an admission fee of only 2 euros, it was worth it!
Valencia is beautiful but boy is is easy to get lost. I’m find this town to be the most confusing so far. Every street feels like a back alley leading into another. Thankfully we took a two hour walking tour and were able to see so much of the city and hear a great deal of interesting history.
Views from our walking tour:
We had a yummy dinner at Las Tastaolletes, a cute restaurant with all the vegan options clearly marked. We shared a pate appetizer and ordered separate entrees. Mine was a delicious lasagna made with a curry sauce and the most amazing vegan cheese, it was so stringy and good. If they marketed it in the U.S., Daiya would have some competition! Stephanie got a salad with chocolate vinaigrette dressing. I told her if all salads had chocolate on them, I’d eat a lot more raw veggies!
Today we spent time in the sun on the beach. So hot but so nice to finally see the ocean! I played paparazzi a bit on a few interesting Spaniards but you’ll have to wait for those photos if you know me personally! 🙂
La Playa Malvarrosa