There are several excellent markets strewn throughout the city of Barcelona, but the Mercado de San Josep de la Boqueria (try saying that after a couple of glasses of Rioja...) is arguably the best, as well as the most famous.
Drawing huge crowds of locals and tourists, the market can be entered from La Rambla with the Liceu metro stop less than a minute walk away. It is also well served by buses. If you have an hour to spare and want to see a riot of colours and experience a world of aromas, La Boqueria is a must visit location.
It's a feast for the eyes...and stomach
Ham, ham...as far as the eye can see
The Market dates back to at least 1217 and its modern name comes from the Catalan word 'boc' which means goat. Basically, people, it's a goat market. I jest, of course. I didn't see a single one. What it does have, however, is fabulous fish, fruits, veg, butcher meat, and a whole host of delicacies to tempt even the fussiest of eaters.
On arrival, apart from initially wondering how you'll cope with the sheer volume of people milling around, you are immediately struck by a rainbow of coloured freshly squeezed fruit juices and mixed fruit cocktails.
On wandering further into the market, you are greeted by a huge selection of vendors and it can be difficult to find a route through the maze and ensure you pay a visit to everyone. I gave the fishmongers a wide berth, because I'm not a fan anything that... aromatic.
Also the eyes of the freshly caught swimmers follow you around and really give me the creeps. But, for you normal people, especially those who like Things From The Sea, the selection is massive and everything is displayed well.
I wasn't able to take this shot myself because of the smell
There is no chucking fish over your head, as they do at Pike's in Seattle, so you can rest easy knowing that the fish are quite dead and no one will attempt to launch them through the air as you walk past. I think Les had a lovely time looking at cockles, mussels and, apparently, the biggest langoustines he's ever seen. Incidentally, we shortly became the proud owners of 6 of them, eyes and all.
While hubby was checking out mutant sized prawns, I made a beeline for the olives. Oh, the olives. I've never seen so many delicious snacks in all my life. I love an olive and these were plump and shiny, causing me to drool a little on my top. They. Were. Delicious.
Yeah, I'd like them all, please...
As well as taking in the sights and smells of the market, be sure to check out the iron roof. It's been in place since 1914 and the archway and signage on entry is beautiful.
If you fancy sitting down and trying out the produce, there are tables, chairs and bars dotted around where you can point at stuff in the glass counters and then happily stuff it into your face. Also, they sell wine.
So, grab some change, eat some fruit, drink some brightly coloured juice, buy seafood with eyes to freak out your other half and, generally, just wander round in a blissful daze, taking lots of food photos for your Instagram feed.