That is the problem, even with three weeks in Barcelona - and that does not include all the fabulous other attractions. We still haven't got anywhere near going to Figueres to the Dali museum and many other things which were on the agenda. Two weeks stretching our brains with Spanish grammar (though it really needs to be four to cover all the tenses) at language school just ate into our time...

Helen and I have been right at home here - and in Barcelona that is a very easy thing to do. The people are nice, the place a visual feast, the food often superb, and even the pavements are walking-friendly. None of the ankle-twisting cobblestones of other major cities.

We have been staying in El Raval, apparently the seedy side of town rife with thieves and to be avoided. Certainly it is very multi cultural with many of the local little convenience or vege stores are owned by Philippinos and Bangladeshi (two of whom did loudly admire me and my ex-Kiwi school buddy who came to stay, but since they were at least 25 years younger than us, we had to come to the sad conclusion it was probably only for our passports). Most are just plain helpful. This is not a place to walk around with your phone in your hand and apparently we are not far away from the known street to score heroin.

foodFor us, the reality so far is that we are surrounded by hairdressers, small bakeries and noisy bars and restaurants. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) - complete with large groups of skateboarders enjoying the wide expanse of concrete outside and a few homeless - is but a 3 minute walk away, La Rambla is 5 and Plaza Catalunya where we have greeted and farewelled a few of Helen's friends and shopped at El Cortes Ingles - about 10. Very central and very noisy. No such thing as soundproofing in this 'burb!

Food attractions are multiple and too many for one blog. Catalan tomato salad must be tried, potatoes and sweet onions are excellent, as are the meat and seafood. The local places include a very good, traditionally Catalan, almost elegant restaurant called Ca L'Estevet about 10 steps away in the next street. We enjoyed the freshest seafood, the choice of many meat dishes including tripe, and were told that cannelloni is actually a Catalan dish - and they certainly do one of the better renditions - which the owner insisted we try.

pedroNearby sits an excellent very old character-filled bar called Casa Almirall, owned by the current owner Pedro for the last 38 years, where there is a huge selection of the very popular tipple vermouth, a large range of gin and other spirits, as well as some wine and a superior version of a short list of cocktails which can be accompanied by a plate of excellent Bellota jamon, chorizo, pan de tomate and local cheese. It is a great place where you feel immediately at ease.

The stand out meal so far has been at a place which only opens for breakfast and lunch, is pretty nondescript from the outside and at first glance looks like a nice but ordinary bar - though it does seem full of well dressed locals. You then are seated and welcomed in the friendliest of manners and are assured that although the menu is only in Catalan (which by this stage we are becoming quite adept at translating), it will not be a problem, as the lovely girl will be back to take you through it. At this point, an older - but not that old - gentleman appears, welcomes you and starts to sort out water, and possibly beer.

familyThis is Granja Elena, off the tourist track, recommended by a fellow diner at Ca L'Estevet and approved of and booked for us by Pedro of Casa Almirall. He was a little concerned we might miss out, as normally you certainly cannot just walk in, and the day before is a little tight to book. Especially if that day is Sant Jordi, the Spanish equivalent of Valentines Day.

Patricia reappears, her father darts off to talk to other (mainly regular) clients, you choose what you want - though really you can just leave it to her - and start what is really extremely well executed local Michelin level food cooked by her Zuberoa (a great Basque restaurant) - experienced brother Borja. Simple, but not.

We enjoyed sharing excellent jamon croquets, anchovies and the traditional tomato bread which was followed by tartare of tuna, salmon, smoked duck breast, tender suckling lamb, turbot and jellied merluza cheeks poached in olive oil and pilpil. Trying to describe it all would not do it justice, but everything just melted in our mouths. It was accompanied by a recommended reasonably priced Catalonian red and finished with two desserts we really didn't need but felt compelled to try. The chocolate was indeed Valrhona.

duckNothing more to say really. If you're in Barcelona, google it and book. You will enjoy it and they will enjoy you. It is a 26 seater, started in 1975 by the grandmother of Patricia, Borja and Guillermo (who also does the floor), is full of locals of all ages - some of whom dine there once or twice a week. Lucky them!