Barcelona is one of the great tourist destinations in Europe. It is the second largest cruise port in the world[end], second only to Miami. Unlike Miami, Barcelona is not just an embarkation/debarkation port, it is a port call for many cruise lines. Barcelona has also gained a reputation throughout the culinary world as a food-lover's dream destination. So, when we visited Barcelona on our Crystal Serenity cruise, we decided to combine some exploration of the city sights with some of the great food from the region. After learning that our friends at Barcelona Segway Tour have added a Gastronomic Segway Tour to their list of options, we knew that was the perfect way to spend the day in Barcelona.
Our cruise offered a free shuttle bus to the World Trade Center, so we decided to walk from there to BCN Segway offices. If your cruise offers the same, it is very easy to find your way to the statue of Christopher Columbus (Plaça de les Drassanes)*. From there, you can use Google Maps to locate BCN Segway offices, about a 15 minute walk from the statue see walking map here. Along the way, you will find many shopping opportunities along the famed Las Ramblas.
* If your cruise does not offer a shuttle, you can get to the Christopher Columbus statue by taking the T3 Portbus that will pick up from the cruise terminals and provide the transfer for around 2€ per person.
Once we arrived at their offices, we were quickly introduced to João, our guide for the day. We were fitted with helmets, asked to sign a waiver (typical for this type of tour) and soon we were mounting our Segways to begin our tour. We informed João that we were comfortable on the Segway and that we had some experience riding them. As a result, we were able to skip the normal training period required for new Segway riders. You should know that these machines are very simple to operate as they are self-balancing. Just about anyone, young or old, can learn to ride one in 15 minutes or less. And, your guide will take time to make sure you are comfortable on the machine before the tour begins. But basically, if you can stand up, you can ride a Segway!
The 3-hour Gastronomic Segway Tour that takes us to some of the Gothic District’s, Barceloneta’s and Port Olimpic’s gastronomic hotspots. Barcelona is known worldwide as a culinary destination, so this tour shows off the city and some of the local cuisine. The tour begins with riding the Segways through some narrow streets of the Gothic District out to one of the main thoroughfare's. We stop of gaze at the massive post office before riding to our first culinary destination.
Our first stop is PORK, a small cafe/restaurant, located on Consulat del Mar. This restaurant is all about the pig, in all its forms, from head to tail. The families behind this venture are involved in every aspect of the product, from raising and caring for the pigs, processing the meat, then curing, smoking, grinding, salting, encasing, barbecuing, or roasting. Talk about farm-to-table! This was sort of the "appetizer" portion of the gastronomic tour. We found a nice shaded table outside and soon were served a basket of toasted bread, a plate of salami, pate and Chorizo (a spicy pork sausage), and a bowl containing fresh garlic cloves and a tomato. And interesting combination, for sure.
João explained that the traditional way to eat this was to cut the garlic and tomato in half, rub the raw garlic on the toast, then rub the tomato on the toast, drizzle on some olive oil, top with your favorite cured meat, and then eat. It sounds a bit strange, but it was delicious! In fact, this will be one of our new experiences we will take home with us to try. Now if I can just find sausages at home as good as they served us at Pork. Was it good? Let's just say that Pork will be high on our "re-visit" list the next time we are in Barcelona!
Everything we tried a PORK was delicious, but this is only the 'appetizer' portion of the tour, there's much more sightseeing and eating to be done! We leave PORK and ride our Segways across the main thoroughfare to the Barcelona waterfront and marina. We make a stop at the "Barcelona Head" so that João can explain the sculpture by the famous American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The addition of the sculpture was part of the rejuvenation project for the waterfront area (previously known as Moll de la Fusta).
We ride down the waterfront and eventually end up at Barcelona's massive, and crowded, beach. I don't think we have ever seen so many people on one beach before. As we rode along the waterfront, we would stop from time to time as João would describe the history of the area, or a particularly interesting sculpture.
One of the most recognizable is Frank Gehry's giant goldfish that sits at the foot of the Ritz Carlton hotel. The animal is 56 metres long and 35 metres high and seems to be longing to jump into the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
From a distance, the sculpture clearly represents a fish; however, as you approach the sculpture, you can see it begins to represent a conquistador's helmet. Our next stop was at another local cafe in Barceloneta called L'Ostia.
This stop represents the "main course" on our gastronomic tour. The 'main course' segment of our culinary journey started with a small serving of strawberry gazpacho along with a bowl of blistered Padrón peppers (pementos de Padrón). We were warned that, while most of the peppers are mild, about 1 out of 10 is very hot. It is considered good luck if you find a hot one. The peppers are sauteed in a little olive oil and sea salt and they are absolutely delicious! The gazpacho provided a little relief as I got 'lucky' on the second pepper I tried. Both were delicious.
Our final dish was a huge bowl of fresh steamed mussels. Neither Rickee nor I are big fans of mussels, and in fact, Rickee has never even tried one before today. Nevertheless, the bowl soon was turned into a pile of empty shells.The Mussels appeared to be steamed with a little lemon juice, but nothing else to interfere with their natural flavor. I am pretty confident that if you love Mussels, you will be a huge fan.
Needless to say, we were already stuffed, and there was still one course left to go! After we left L'Ostia, we rode our Segways through the local zoo where we stopped to see the famous Parc de la Ciutadella fountain (cascade in Spanish) that, unfortunately, had been drained for cleaning.
We rode back into the Gothic District's narrow streets to our final stop: a small cafe called "Bliss". This would become the dessert portion of our meal. Since the dessert portion can include an alcoholic beverage of choice, we are required to return the Segways to the BCN Segway office, then walk the one block to Bliss.
We had a choice of a variety of handmade cakes and brownies. And, since we are at the end of our tour with no more riding required, Rickee and I decided to celebrate the end of a great tour with a glass of bubbly Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), to go with her chocolate brownie my green tea cake. It was a fitting end to a delicious and interesting day in Barcelona. For those who follow our blog, you know that we have done a lot of Segway tours all over the world. I have say, the Gastronomic Segway Tour of Barcelona is one of the best we have done to date.
For more information on Barcelona Segway Tour, visit their website at BarcelonaSegwayTour.com.