My last day in Barcelona I managed to again lace up my sneakers and head out the door for a run. I had high hopes of doing another deck of cards workout too– maybe some push-ups, burpees – an intense workout to close out the trip!
Buttttt instead I moseyed my way around the harbor and eventually found my way to Barceloneta Beach where I plopped myself down and looked out at the water.
That’s when the need for a day at the beach hit me. I texted Jon and Emily, “Hey guys – out on my run and it’s GORGEOUS out. We should go to La Boqueria and buy food then spend the day at the beach!”
Then I got up and made my way back towards the hostel, with a quick stop in a little dirt patch area for an easy deck of cards workouts – jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, etc.
Once my endorphins got everyone moving, we headed to La Boqueria. Jon and Emily let me do my thing – following me as I loaded up on tons of stuff (I somehow managed to spend like $60!)
Here’s what I got:
Fresh Mango – They sell SO MUCH fresh fruit – precut and ready to eat with a little plastic fork. We also got a mixed fruit cup and Emily got papaya.
Vegetable Chips – OMG veggie chips. But not just any veggie chips. The most amazing veggie chips with carrots and sweet potato and taro and green beans – so crispy, so perfectly salty – so amazing. The last time I got a bag of these was from the market in Toronto and I really can’t be trusted – the entire bag was demolished by the end of the day.
Hummus – Because nothing goes better with veggie chips and baguette than hummus!
Dried Fruit Kabob – I remembered Brynn telling me that the dried fruit was delicious so I got a skewer with assorted dried fruits on it. The mango was my favorite!
Baguette – For only 1 euro, an entire fresh baked, still warm baguette can be yours at La Boqueria!
Cheese – MANCHEGO, to be exact. I have a newfound obsession with this cheese and it just so happens to be a Spanish cheese! (Made in La Mancha, to be precise).
Meat – We got a variety pack of sliced meats.
Barnacles – Yes, you read that correctly. During our tour before the cooking class, Angel had told us all about barnacles being a delicacy in Barcelona – they are only found in a few places around the world, and difficult to harvest. They’re called percebes (Goose barnacles) and are pretty expensive! When we were walking around La Boqueria, I came across a stand that was selling already steamed percebes for 5 euro and knew I had to try them!
When I finished taking a million years at the market putting together the perfect picnic, we wove our way through the streets of the Gothic Quarter and made our way to the beach. I feel like we were pretty distracted the entire way – stopping for sunglasses for Jon, into a souvenir store for me, another store to find a towel, a pharmacy for water bottles, and to haggle with a street vendor for tapestries (my round one is going to be great for picnic’s in Central Park). We finally made it to the beach and I had us plop down in the first patch of open sand that I saw.
Barceloneta is a very crowded, very touristy beach and we were pestered by vendors the entire time we were there. If you’re looking to soak up the sun while you’re in Barcelona, there are beautiful beaches a quick 30 minute train ride away – but we just wanted nearby and easy. That meant constantly hearing vendors hawking mojitos, massages, and even DONUTS up and down the beach.
A word of advice – don’t leave anything unattended on these beach! It WILL go walking.
A dug into my barnacles and eventually got the hang of eating them – it’s definitely not attractive and they definitely look a little phallic- I would not recommend barnacles as a first date meal. Every time I twisted them open, I got a nice face full of salt water. But they were surprisingly meaty and tasted great with a lemon spritz. Angel had described them as tasting like oysters with the consistency of crab meat – and I’d say that was pretty accurate!
Jon went to play some beach volleyball while Emily and I snacked and eventually fell asleep in the sun. Is there any better feeling than dozing off in the sand? Nope. Pretty sure there’s not.
When we woke up and Jon got back, Emily and I went down by the water to feel how cold it was – it was pretty chilly, yet there were a few brave souls swimming around!
I instantly spotted some seaglass by the water’s edge and got really excited and nostalgic. When I was growing up, my dad and I would walk at my beach collecting seaglass – finding a blue piece was like hitting the jackpot! I associate the rocky North Shore beaches of Long Island with seaglass, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that Barcelona’s beaches were very similar! I spend awhile sifting through the sand and even found some blue pieces which I hope my dad will make into jewelry for me.
Eventually, I roused everyone from their peaceful lounging because it was time to check two more things off my checklist.
The first thing being – EAT GELATO.
We walked along the main road by the beach scouting out gelato shops until we found one we agreed look legit. How does a gelato place look legit? Not sure, but this one did. We ended up stopping at Dino Gelato Italiano and within a minute of us getting in line…about 20 other people queued up behind us. Such trendsetters.
I got a small with Catalan Cream and a flavor with peanut butter in the description – the first time I had seen mention of my favorite food in all of Barcelona!
We sat on a bench and enjoyed our gelato despite the busy street and cars zooming past. While Jon said, “This is going to take me forever to eat,” I looked down at my empty cup and said, “This was the tiniest thing of ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It was like 2 spoonfuls.” Story of my life!
The last place I was dragging everyone was a bar that my friend Kaitlin, who studied abroad in Barcelona in college, said we needed to check out. After reading the reviews online – I knew she was right. Everything I read about La_Xampanyeria made it seem like it was more than just a bar - it was an experience. And the way people talked about everyone making friends and no one being sad made me think of the Boardy Barn (the happiest place on earth).
La Xampanyeria was founded in 1969 (the real name is Can Paixano but everyone calls it La Xampanyeria – The Champaneria)– so it’s got history! When you walk in you’ll notice that there are no tables or chairs. You find a spot and you stand – which means mingling and bumping into people and, hopefully, making friends!
We managed to snag a spot right up at the bar and tried to figure out, “What next?” Luckily, I had read up on how things worked at La Xampanyeria so I wasn’t completely thrown off by the fact that almost everything was written in Catalan only.
You can buy either glasses of champagne or, until 5 pm, entire bottles (for like 6 euro!) If you buy an entire bottle, you’re required to buy two tapas – this is how they prevent people from getting hammered (I mean, people still get hammered!)
We got a bottle + MORE cheese and ham – cause we hadn’t eaten enough of that on the beach earlier…
The bartender seemed so over everyone at the bar – yet in a way that we thought was entertaining, not obnoxious. He looked SO irritated at a customer who kept waving his hand I his face to get his attention.
Before we knew it we had finished our bottle and were feeling nice and giggly. It was like Emily at the cooking class all over again! La Xampanyeria is CASH ONLY so we literally scrounged in our bags and wallets enough money for another bottle and two more tapas and were so excited that we had enough!
This time around we got the same bottle but croquettes (still not sure what was in them) and the most delicious chorizo because that’s what the bartender recommended.
Somehow, the woman standing behind us caught sight of Emily and I using the dog filter on Snapchat and LOST HER SHIT. She was HOWLING with laughter – and before I knew it the cava + the atmosphere + the mission of making a friend at La Xampanyeria had me swiping through all of the Snapchat filters with this woman who spoke not a word of English and was absolutely hammered. It was one of those times that you laugh so hard your stomach hurts and you feel like you just did 1000 crunches.
It was the hardest I had laughed in AWHILE (probably since seeing this video).
When we finished our second bottle we sadly departed because we were out of cash entirely. (Our new friend tried buying us more, but she was having some issues communicating with the bartender so we said thank you and left!)
We left this place in the best mood – as evidenced by these pictures of Emily and I. I highly recommend a stop to La Xampanyeria if you’re in Barcelona!
We started heading back to the hostel but didn’t quite want to stop drinking…so we hopped into Abirra Dero where we had a good conversation with the bartender about craft beers in Barcelona. They had a ton of different beers to choose from, and while I didn’t end up loving my IPA, it was a cool spot for beer lovers (I meant to buy a glass but forgot on my way out!)
Finally, we went back to the hostel and got finished packing before getting dressed and ready to go out for the night. We had been warned that Monday nights were a little crazy – we were headed back to City Hall where the Hostel One group got a free hour of beer and later, time in a VIP area with free bottles of champagne.
When we first got into City Hall, I saw posters for a beer pong tournament and low-key freaked out. Or, not so low-key freaked out. I HAD to enter. Emily was with me – this absolutely had to happen. No questions asked.
The guys running the tournament for City Hall were slightly creepy (very, creepy) but we managed to figure out that we needed to pay in cash in order to enter (though they seemed to be demanding kisses as well). We headed back upstairs to find out where we could find an ATM – the one next door wasn’t working so we walked across the street and I paid $30 to take out 20 more euros that I definitely wasn’t going to end up using. Whatever. If it cost me $30 to play beer pong at a club in Barcelona on my last night, so be it.
Back in City Hall we signed up and had a #14 sticker put on our shirts. We left the beer pong area to dance for a little while – the music started off as Latin and I pretended I could move my hips like Shakira while dancing to Gasolina, belted some Enrique and FREAKED out when a random song I had put on my Barcelona playlist came on – Picky by Joey Montana – go listen, it’s great.
Eventually we noticed people playing beer pong and wandered over to figure out how we would know when it was our turn. It was confusing and frustrating and not very well organized at all – I mean, it was in the middle of a night club with the event, “FUCKING MONDAY” going on. So…we decided to take a tequila shot. That made the waiting more bearable. I was just about ready to concede that I had wasted my money and beer pong wasn’t going to happen when WE WERE UP.
And turns out, we were really filling the cups with beer. Gross, beer. Estrella. Beer pong beer through and through. Not particularly cold beer either.
But it was happening! We were two American girls playing beer pong in a Barcelona night club and we were gunna SHOW THEM WHO WAS BOSS. Plus, the music had switched over from Latin to American 90’s and early 2000’s hits. If I was ever in my element, it was now.
First game – solid. Emily got the last cup, and we both played pretty well!
Second game – another win. Emily got the last cup again and we started feeling in the zone. The music was killing it, and a crowd was starting to gather around the remaining games.
Third game – Semi Finals. The pressure was ON. I thrive on beer pong pressure. We won AGAIN. Emily made the last cup, again. My shero.
Fourth game – FINALS. There was no chance we were losing. Absolutely not. ‘Merica. There was a whole big misunderstanding when I tried explaining that I was heating up – but once we got past that, WE WON. I sunk the last cup and Emily screamed really loud and picked me up and it was perfection.
They introduced us to the manager who asked what shot we wanted to do and then we took a Patron shot with the him. We eventually found out that we had won a booze cruise on April 22 but when we said we were leaving the next morning (in like, 4 hours at that point…) they asked what they could get us from the bar. We got a bottle of champagne and danced a little bit more before handing off the bottle to the team we had played in the finals and heading back to the hostel.
Once at the hostel, we sat in the lobby/kitchen and had a heart to heart. I think we didn’t want to go to bed because then our trip would officially be over. So we ate more bread, meat and cheese and talked until it was 5:30 a.m…we had agreed to leave at 7 a.m. and my alarm was set for 6:30 a.m.
I fell asleep for an hour nap and woke up to Jon yelling, “GUYS! TIME TO GO IT’S 8!”
I flew out of bed. Jumped down. Zipped my suitcase, prayed everything was in it, ran to the guy at the front desk and tried to convey the urgency of “OVERSLEPT, Need to pay NOW, late for flight!” While simultaneously trying to book a taxi with the MyTaxi app.
The typical European laid-back demeanor meant my sense of urgency was not exactly met – but soon enough we were stepping into the street and into a waiting taxi – thank God for technology.
When we got to the check-in counter they let Jon and I go ahead – along with another woman who was running behind schedule for the flight to NYC.
In reality, we made it through security and to our gate in plenty of time – we even got water bottles, chocolate milk (CACAOLAT ❤), and some souvenirs from the Duty Free shop.
Despite being so so exhausted, I didn’t sleep a ton on the flight – I did watch Moana though (loved it) and another movie that I can’t remember now.
When we landed, Jon and I split an Uber back to the Upper East Side and I somehow managed to do laundry and completely unpack that night before collapsing into bed at a ridiculously early hour. To think that I had at one point contemplated going straight to the office after landing…
Honestly, this trip was 100% more amazing than I could have ever imaged it would be.
Emily is the best travel buddy and potentially the only human on this planet who can keep up with and accept my obsessive itineraries – while still managing to push ME to party harder and stay up later.
Throughout the trip we kept turning to each other and saying, “We’re in SPAIN!” I am absolutely determined to take a trip outside of the country every spring from here on out. There is so much to see and experience!
The language barrier and cultural differences of being in another country helped me relinquish some of the control I usually insist on having – I often couldn’t communicate exactly what I wanted at a restaurant, I drank my coffee with cream instead of almond or skim milk, the culture didn’t include boutique fitness studios on every corner so I went a week without working out – and now that I’m back, some of these things have stuck. I’ve spent about $100 on cappuccinos in the past two weeks – and I haven’t been nearly as motivated for kick ass workouts. Instead, I’ve been walking to and from work as much as I can (3 miles) and that’s feeling great.
I haven’t stopped following travel blogs and accounts on Instagram – I’m throwing around ideas like Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgium, Amsterdam – so if you have any suggestions for a 7 day trip in Europe for April(ish), LET ME KNOW PLEASE!
Thanks for reading these ridiculously long daily recaps – there will be a short(er) and sweet travel guide to Barcelona coming one of these days!