barcelona travel guide

Barcelona: Day Six

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!”

Barcelona Travel Guide

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.

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!

Barcelona Travel Guide

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.

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!

Barcelona Travel Guide Champaneria

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.

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!)

Barcelona Travel Guide

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.

Barcelona Travel Guide

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!”

UHM, what?!

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!

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN BARCELONA:

Barcelona: Day Five

Emily and I woke up on Sunday morning and headed to a cute café for breakfast. It was called Café Cometa and had a definite NYC vibe with its succulents on every table and cute interior. The menu featured everything I love in a brunch spot – avocado toast, yogurt, smoked salmon – all the essentials. We also appreciated the English version of the menu – though I’m sure this wasn’t our most authentic Spanish meal of the trip. 

Barcelona Travel Guide Monjuic

We grabbed a seat outside, because who doesn’t love al fresco dining? – and I ordered yogurt with granola and a slice of avocado and tomato toast. PLUS a mocha latte which was definitely unnecessary but, delicious nonetheless.

We tried to watch a Youtube video to figure out the proper way Emily was supposed to eat her egg – but we definitely did not succeed.

Barcelona Travel Guide

After our meal we walked around the corner for my donut stop of the trip – La Donuteria! I’ve been following them on Instagram since I booked my flight to Barcelona and I love that they’re constantly changing their flavor offerings. It was very quiet when we arrived, and I conducted a full-on photo shoot with Emily, the soon-to-be-full-time-artistic director of Peanut Butter Is My Boyfriend.

Barcelona Travel Guide Doughnuts

I got a chocolate apricot donut and a Crème de chocolate con leche con praline – they were pretty pricey, and though beautiful, definitely didn’t compare to other doughnuts I’ve had!

Next we hopped in a taxi and made our way to the Gothic Quarter for two stores that we wanted to get souvenirs from – the FCB Barcelona Team Store and Toni Pons.

I had read that Barcelona, and particularly Toni Pons, were the spot to buy espadrilles – a type of shoe that was first created in the Pyrenees region of Catalonia. I love espadrilles – they’re always super comfortable for the summer with the perfect laid back but classy look.

Apparently, the name for espadrilles comes from the Catalan word for espardenya – the bottoms of the shoes are made of espart which is a tough grass that’s also used to make rope.

I was amazed at how many different styles the Toni Pons store had. And since I’m horrible with decisions, I was also overwhelmed. I tried on about 5 different pairs (after one of the men working there helped me figure out what European size I was!) and then I was stumped between two pairs. One a more traditional canvas espadrille in tan/beige and the other an espadrille with a navy blue leather upper. I was so stumped, that the man helping me and the cashier made a bet about which I would buy! They both told me to go with the traditional canvas ones, but I ended up going with the leather because I thought they were more unique!

They are SO comfortable and now I wish I had bought about 5 more pairs while I was there! They’re available online, but I don’t really feel like paying the hefty international shipping fees.

We ambled our way back to the hostel and even found ourselves in the middle of a Palm Sunday procession. With more foresight, I would have been really cool to go to mass in one of the beautiful and historic churches, but we enjoyed the nuns singing in the streets. It felt a little weird that so many tourists were just stopping and taking pictures. I put my phone away and tried to be respectful (after snapping one picture for the memory…)

Barcelona Travel Guide

When we got back we took a very necessary hour + nap and then it was time to wake up and get ready to explore Montjuic, a massive hill overlooking the water that was basically in the backyard of our hostel.

There’s a castle at the top of Montjuic and it is also the location of many Olympic sites – the Olympic Ring, Olympic Stadium, Olympic swimming facility, and the stadium where we would be seeing Ed Sheeran in concert later that night! (Palau Sant Jordi).

We started by walking up, and up and up and taking in the views of the city. We spotted a lot of smoke on the horizon, and while my mind immediately went to a terror attack, Google let us know that it was a yacht that had been burning for hours!

Barcelona Travel Guide

We wound our way up towards the Hotel Miramar, a gorgeous hotel on Montjuic. We walked around a bit before realized we were off-course for our destination – Montjuic Castle.

Backtracking, we realized we had much more to climb – so up we went. It was no joke – I was dripping in sweat, Emily’s Achilles was killing her, yet the gondola to the top was way over-priced for the distance it would have carried us.

We powered through and eventually made it to the castle – which was free on Sunday’s after 3 pm (it’s like I planned that or something…oh right, I did!)

I attempted to read along with the brochure and learn something, but it was kind of dry material. Instead, we entered the center of the castle and found tons of the wooden games I had seen at the Farmer’s Market! They were probably meant for kids, but Emily quickly came up with a rough translation of the instructions and we started trying to balance weird wooden pieces on top of each other.

Barcelona Travel Guide Montjuic

Who knows if we were playing right – but it was a ton of fun! I would love to make some of these games for my backyard. (With the tools and handy skills that I don’t have, for the backyard that I don’t have…)

After we got bored of the games, we sat down on a bench and reevaluated our plan – it was a long time until the concert, and there aren’t really any bars or restaurants on top of Montjuic where we could spend our time pregaming. So we headed back down on foot and walked to El Sortidor – the restaurant that both our cab driver and cooking instructor had recommended to us.

It was bizarre – the hostess told us they weren’t seating people – even though there were tons of people at the tables outside and even someone inside the restaurant eating…

I was bummed, but we headed to Carrer Blai, a street right near our hostel that is filled with tapas and pinchos restaurants. It seems that every restaurant on the block is named “Blai 9” or “Blai 11.” There’s no cars down the street – just restaurants and tables.

So let’s take a quick pause to talk about pinchos (or pinxtos). I didn’t really know what they were before I arrived – but essentially they’re little bite-sized bar snacks, almost like tapas, but with wooden skewers through them. They line the bars, and when you’re done at the bar, they charge you based on how many skewers you have on your plate! Different skewers may cost slightly different amounts, but for the most part, pinchos on Carrer Blai cost just 1 euro each! Other parts of the city they’ll cost between 2 and 2.50 euro.

We had our first true pinchos experience before the Ed Sheeran concert on Carrer Blai and to be honest, I barely know what I ate. I wasn’t blown away by any of it -  I mean, it sits out on the bar all day – but some of the bites were tasty and I wasn’t really the biggest critic once I started sipping Cava. There were cod fritters and some cheese and stuff piled on a mini pancake – if anything, they made for pretty pictures!

Barcelona Travel Guide

After eating and drinking our fair share (and having our first chocolate filled CHURROS of the trip) we scurried back up the street to our hostel for a quick phone charge and champagne chug. What I didn’t finish of the bottle, I poured into one of Jon’s empty beer cans – ROADIE!

Barcelona Travel Guide

Soon we were in a taxi (they don’t have Uber in Barcelona, but they do have MyTaxi which is essentially the same thing) and on our way to Palau Sant Jordi.

When we got out of the cab, the light of the setting sun combined with the sight of the Olympic ring – plus the anticipation of seeing Ed Sheeran and the copious amounts of cava – had me smiling from ear to ear. We sat in the grass and finished our drinks while I serenaded Jon and Emily with Ed Sheeran songs.

Barcelona Travel Guide

For some reason I pictured the venue being outside, but we soon discovered that Palau Sant Jordi was an indoor arena (that holds 18,000) that was created as part of the Olympic complex. Jon and Emily stood in line for beers while I rushed to my seat – scared that I was going to miss even a second of Ed singing.

I shouldn’t have worried – because there were two openers. One of which was Anne-Marie who sings Alarm – I got reallll into it.

When Ed Sheeran started, I was in my own world. I am 99% sure I was the only person in our entire section that stood up the entire show and sang along to every word. Jon and Emily were good sports, only knowing a handful of songs.

ED SHEERAN’S CONCERTS ARE MAGIC. I said it about 2348932 times over the course of the trip, and Emily and Jon kept making fun of me, but I’ll say it again anyway: It’s nuts that it’s JUST HIM up on the stage with his guitar and loop pedal. SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. I died. And I decided that no matter the cost, I simply need to see him again when he’s at Barclay’s in the fall.

Ugh. I still can’t get over how perfect it was – hearing him perform Barcelona IN BARCELONA.

After the concert, we walked alllll the way back because – why not? Also, because we couldn’t get a taxi.

When we arrived back in our hostel’s neighborhood, we all agreed it was a good night to take off from clubbing – so we set out in search of some good drunk food.

Jon wandered into various establishments asking, “Hamburguesa con queso?” But we kept striking out. For a city that stays up drinking all night – there are very few dining establishments whose kitchens stay open. There were plenty of pinchos available – but we were looking for something a little more, well, American. We ended up in a halal restaurant, feasting on naan and dosa and curry. It was almost like we were in New York shoving our faces with lamb over rice.

The man working at Tabaq late on a Sunday night was like our knight in shining armor. He was so nice too – we couldn’t have been happier. Also, it turns out that the folks on TripAdvisor think Tabaq is the best Pakistani/Indian food in Barcelona! SCORE. 

After that, we crawled contentedly into our beds. (Not sure how I haven’t yet mentioned that I was on the top bunk and every time I climbed up, I had visions of the handrail coming out of the wall and me plummeting to my death).

Hard to believe we had only one day left in Barcelona, but it wouldn’t disappoint!

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN BARCELONA:

Barcelona: Day Four

Before leaving for the club on Friday night, I had set out my running clothes to provide a small glimmer of hope that I might actually achieve more physical exertion than simply walking at least once during the trip. It wasn’t because I felt guilty about not working out, or about eating and drinking non-stop- which was surprising to me. The motivation was purely the fact that I knew even an easy 3 mile run along the water could potentially be one of the best parts of my trip – that’s how happy running makes me. And if I could do it relatively pain free, I’d be even happier the rest of the day.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Since we had actually left at a “normal” hour Friday night (Saturday morning…) I shocked myself by waking up, throwing on my sneakers, and heading outside for a run.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Our location was really convenient for a run down to the beach and along the water and as I went I passed a few fellow runners and a farmers market – I instantly felt wonderful. My legs were a little achy from all the walking we were doing every day, but at that same time, they felt refreshed because I hadn’t done any strength training or real cardio all week.

I ran along the water and it was pretty, but I was on the Port Vell side so it’s mainly just a lot of boats. When I started, it was still not very crowded out but by the end of my run the streets and waterfront were starting to fill up.

I stopped at a park with benches and used my phone to do a deck of cards workout with squats, dips, sit ups, etc. I got a few weird looks but it was a very quiet area so I didn’t feel too weird.

On my run back to the hostel, I had to stop at the farmer’s market! There were a handful of booths with cheese, vegetables, jams, chocolate, and bread. There were also a ton of games set up – they were made out of wood and kind of reminded me of Nok-Hockey, but I didn’t recognize any of them. Later in the week, I’d find them at Montjuic Castle and Emily’s Spanish would help us play a few of them!

Barcelona Travel Guide

When I got back to the hostel (after running back and forth on our street a few times to end at an even number on my Garmin - #RunnerProblems) I turned on the lights, opened the window and said “GOOD MORNING, RISE AND SHINE.” Much to the chagrin of Emily and Jon, I was ridin’ high on endorphins and ready to get the day going.

Brunch & Cake

Eventually, I got everyone up and motivated – we showered and got ready for our planned brunch at Brunch and Cake – a restaurant that my friend Brynn had told me to follow on Instagram FOREVER ago. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts in the world – the food is so damn colorful, plated beautifully, and HEALTHY!

Brunch and Cake Barcelona

I got a café con leche for the walk to Brunch and Cake as I tried to mentally prepare Emily and Jon for the wait that we were sure to encounter when we arrived. Brunch and Cake is located near the college, and you can tell you were in the college neighborhood – the places just seemed hipper. Sure enough, Brunch and Cake was packed and we were told there would be an hour and ten minute wait.

Jon stood on the sidewalk to people watch while Emily and I walked down the block and found a cute café where I got a green juice. The inside of Cosmo was SO so cute and I felt like I was in Brooklyn.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Jon texted in seemingly no time that we were up next – it ended up not even taking an hour until we were seated and handed menus (in English!) at Brunch and Cake.

As usual, Emily and I decided on two things that we wanted to split. The first was a salad that had sweet potatoes, arugula, guacamole, salsa, and a vegetarian taco “meat” that was absolutely ridiculous in a good way. We also split a banana/oat pancake that was legitimately the size of the entire dish, with the banana layered underneath and covered in granola, seeds, nuts and fruit. Plus, all of the syrup that was poured on top.

The pancake was a little dry, but that salad was phenomenal!

Parc de la Ciutadella

After brunch we took our time wandering over to the Parc de la Ciutadella, where we passed the Arc de Triomf. As we passed under the arc I naturally compared the park to Washington Square Park.

There’s a pedestrian street that leads from the Arc de Triomf to Parc de la Ciutadella and we took our time taking in the band that was playing, the people selling massive balloons, blowing bubbles and sat on a bench to watch insanely talented kids perform soccer tricks. Eventually we continued into the park and I was instantly in love. It was Central Park-esque in the sense that people were lounging out on the various lawns with full on picnics and towels set up – you could tell they planned on spending many hours there.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Everyone you looked there were different performances going on and we sat down to watch a group of hippies slacklining. I so wish I had gotten up the nerve to ask them to try it, but the Riekorderling Raspberry cider I was drinking, while delicious, wasn’t quite strong enough to give me that extra push ;)

There were however small children whose parents were nowhere to be found that were giving tight-rope walking their best attempt, with the help of the random men who lifted them up. Europeans man – so much more laid back!

I even saw people with these awesome blow up bean bag type things and now I definitely need to get one for days and nights in Central Park.

We all could have spent much more time exploring this park – there’s even a zoo inside – but sadly we had to be on our way to walk over to our cooking class!

Weaving in and out of the maze-like streets of the Gothic Quarter, I was happy I had decided to pay the $10 a day to use my phone data. There were a few days when I didn’t turn it on, but for the most part we would probably have spent the entire week lost had we not been able to use Google maps. Yes, we had physical maps, but the streets are so winding and confusing that we didn’t stand a chance! It wasn’t until day 3 or 4 that we finally felt confident getting ourselves back to the hostel.

Foodie Experience Barcelona

We arrived at our cooking class and waited outside the door for a few minutes, making small talk with some of the other people who would be in our class (there were 11 of us total). When Angel opened the door and let us into the space, I knew it was going to be a good night. It was bright, spacious and absolutely spotless.

Barcelona Cooking Class

Angel went through the menu that we would be cooking that evening, and then led us outside for a tour of La Boqueria.

I hung on her every word as we wound our way through one of the oldest food markets in Europe – we stopped at a few different booths and learned about ham (jamon), seafood, saffron, paprika and more. I’ll be writing an entire post that goes into more detail on the Foodie Experience – because it was incredible and anyone going to Barcelona should absolutely do it!

I wrote notes on my phone the entire time and learned SO much about food that I had never known. The difference between Serrano and Iberico ham, the salt content in Atlantic seafood vs. Mediterranean seafood, the different between anchovies vs. boquerones, and the fact that in Barcelona, barnacles are considered a delicacy.

Barcelona Cooking Class

Angel explained that the front of the market tends to be really packed with tourists, but as you make your way further back its more local. She also mentioned that a lot people are starting to get upset that vendors are essentially selling out and selling smoothies and ice cream because that’s what the tourists are buying. 

After our tour of La Boqueria, we headed back to the kitchen and Angel went around the big island explaining what the different steps of the recipe would be. We each got assigned a task for the meal prep – I was on veggie chopping duties.

The knives were extremely sharp, and I had already managed to slice my finger with a bread knife cutting baguettes in bed at 5 a.m. during the trip – so I was a little wary. I managed to make it through the peppers, carrots and green beans without amputating a finger or hand.

We each raised a glass of sangria and said cheers the way the Catalonians do – Salud y Buena Vida!

The rest of the evening included lots of wine, lots of laughs from Emily who couldn’t keep it together for some reason, and lots of interesting information and stories from Angel as she used our prepared ingredients to make tortilla and paella.

Barcelona Foodie Experience

The tomato bread, a very traditional Catalan dish, blew me away with its simplicity and flavor. Sourdough toast, three streaks of a garlic clove, and half of a tomato rubbed all over the bread. A hefty drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt and VOILA – one of the freshest appetizers ever! I’m so sad that the specific tomatoes they use in Barcelona can’t be bought in the US – but I’m going to have to give it a try anyway.

The tortilla is also very traditional – and it’s not a tortilla like you picture when you think of Mexican food. It’s actually more like a frittata and the only ingredients are eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and olive oil! I was fascinated by the fact that the onions and potatoes were cooked by boiling them in olive oil. The sound of it all sizzling away was music to my ears.

Angel also showed us a Youtube video of someone flipping the most massive tortilla – before showing us the easier way of doing it using a flat surface and a spatula. 

Watching Angel make the paella was like watching an artist – simply following a recipe would never yield the same results and what she made for us. Filled with vegetables, chicken thighs, sausage, mussels and prawns – it was incredible!

Another great moment during the class was waving across the roof to Angel’s 100+ year old neighbor – so adorable!

The last hands on portion of the class was getting to blow torch our own Catalan Cream for dessert – turning a layer of sugar into a crispy, crunchy, caramelized creation.

We all hung out around the table eating, drinking, talking, and enjoying the experience before saying thank you and goodnight to Angel. I also purchased some saffron (it’s very expensive, and I got a very small container of it) and smoky paprika for if I ever attempt to make my own paella!

Barcelona Foodie Experience Cooking Class

 

We got back to the hostel and began to get ready for another night out on the town. When I heard that we would be going to a craft beer hall, I was PUMPED. Pumped enough to ignore the fact that the club we’d be going to was going to be techno music.

CocoVail was AWESOME and had so many beer options. There was live music when we arrived and we were given wristbands that meant every beer was $5! I had two IPAs (shocking, I know) and enjoyed the laid back, picnic table vibe of the beer hall. I also enjoyed a conversation about Sunday Funday on Rainey Street with an expat from Austin, Texas! 

Barcelona Travel Guide

Eventually it was time to head over to City Hall – a short walk away from CocoVail. This was the first club we went to that wasn’t on the beach – it was located in the middle of the city and used to be a theater in its heyday. Redesigned, it now features different types of DJs and themes every night of the week. We happened to be there for techno night – which is so not my scene. I lasted for one song in the basement because of Emily’s pleas to give it a chance – but I couldn’t hang with the ravers.

We ventured upstairs to the ground floor where there was a much smaller dance floor and DJ playing non-stop 90’s and 2000’s hits. I was in heaven. I mean, Miley Cyrus and Avril Lavigne? Jackpot.

I got a water bottle from the bar, which Jon proceeded to squeeze and spray all over my face. I was not a happy camper. As he recounted later, “Lauren didn’t talk to me for like 5 whole minutes – that’s a really long time for her to stay mad!” Accurate! But then I ordered a tequila and orange juice and my spirits improved. I love that a lot of times when you order a drink at a bar or club in Barcelona you get a cute little glass bottle with your mixer and pour it into your glass yourself.

We ended up being the last three people on the dance floor at City Hall as we requested that the DJ play Ke$ha. We took the subway home that night because the metro station was right outside of City Hall and our walk back we were hysterical about I don’t even know what. Ke$ha and raucous laughter in the streets - perfect way to end the night! (More baguette, meat and cheese too, of course!)

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN SPAIN: 

Barcelona: Day Three

After our quick "nap," it was time to head out for our journey to Girona and Figueres – a 12 hour day of touring.

Barcelona Travel Guide

We decided to walk from our hostel to the tour office (we booked through Julia Travel) and along the way we stopped at a market for some apples and a café for café con leche, a sandwich and a chocolate croissant to split.

1)     The café con leche from Barcelona has ruined my life because it was SO PHENOMENAL and now I find myself paying $5 for cappuccinos and other delicious espresso drinks with frothy milk and cream. I can no longer bear the thought of sad drip coffee with skim milk and a Splenda.

2)     I swear that all ANYWAY eats in Barcelona are sandwiches of ham (jamon) and cheese on the most amazing baguettes (except they probably aren’t called baguettes there because that’s a French phrase). I believe they’re called bocadillos. Anyway, they’re so simple, but they really are delicious.

3)     The chocolate croissant blew my freaking mind. As usual, I served as the human garbage can throughout the trip – finishing anything that Emily and Jon were too full to eat. When Emily didn’t want any of this croissant, I gladly finished every crumb.

Barcelona travel Guide

Walking Tour of Girona

After some trial and error we figured out where we needed to be for the bus tour and signed in. Eventually we were led outside to the buses which were very spacious (no bathrooms though – which always stresses me out!) Emily and I sat next to each other and for the beginning of the trip our tour guide talked a lot about what to expect out of the day. Everything throughout the day was repeated in English and Spanish which made things a little more time consuming.

The bus ride from Barcelona to Girona was about an hour, and despite the espresso, I fell asleep HARD after eating my sandwich.

When I woke up, we were approaching Girona, driving through beautiful green fields close to the border between Spain and France – with the Pyrenees in the background.

Everyone was given a little radio with headphones which would make it easier to hear the tour guide as we walked around the historic city of Girona.

We had a few minutes to grab a coffee or use the restroom before meeting up with our tour guide. She was extremely sweet – and it was so adorable hearing her English portion of the tour. It was totally understandable, but with little mishaps like “print foot” instead of footprint.

The city of Girona is sooo picturesque. You really feel like you’re stepping back into medieval time as you wander through the cobblestone streets and alleyways. The cypress trees look otherworldly set against the massive cathedral and stone walls that still surround the city.

Girona Travel Guide

There are 4 rivers in Girona, meaning you can amble along a river (the view from one reminded me of Mykonos) and I don’t know about you, but I’m always happiest when I’m near water.

We came to a statue and our tour guide explained to us that the tradition is to “Kiss the Lioness’ Bottom” if you wish to return to Girona. Emily and I had a good laugh taking Boomerangs of us “kissing the butt” a la Finding Nemo.

Another interesting fact our tour guide told us was the legend of St. Narcis’ foot print (“print foot”) – apparently there are tons of legends surrounding him. One says that an army was attacked Girona and St. Narcis ran out of the city walls in one direction, but his footprint pointed in the other – causing the attacking army to go the wrong direction. Or…something that like. There’s a statue, and touching the footprint is supposed to bring you good luck.

Girona Travel Guide

To be honest, the rest of the information I kind of half paid attention to – it wasn’t super interesting to me and the fact that half the time I was hearing Spanish made it hard to keep me listening. But for an hour I was content to take pictures and look around. Emily is a big Game of Thrones fan and apparently they’ve filmed multiple scenes in Girona, including one on the massive stairs of the Cathedral.

Towards the end of the tour we headed into the Jewish Quarters – where Girona’s Jewish population used to live. Apparently it’s one of the most well-preserved in the world – and it was really awesome to navigate through the narrow streets thinking about how much history you were surrounded by.

Girona Travel Guide

By the time we were standing outside of the Jewish Museum and our tour guide was rambling on and on about what we would see if we went into the museum – Emily and I had had enough – we knew which areas we wanted to go explore on our own, and as the clock ticked down we knew our free time was dwindling. We peeled off from the group and scurried down an alley way where I had seen the elusive garlic mincing dish I have been hunting for forever. I picked out a ceramic garlic grater in a pretty pattern and for 5 euro I had successfully found one of the souvenirs on my list.

We started to make our way up to the main city wall, which you can walk along, and I was in heaven. It was absolutely gorgeous – perfect weather, greenery everywhere, the smell of fresh flowers, views of the Pyrenees, and not crowded with tour groups like the streets had been.

We found a secluded area and had a full on photo shoot in the fields – how amazing is the portrait mode on the new iPhone? I spent the rest of the trip making Emily take glamour shots of me. Not vain at all.

I think we both could have stayed on top of that hill all day long, but we wanted to make sure we had time to eat something before we got back on the bus so we wound or way down and back into the streets and ended up eating at the most adorable café. Turns out that Federal Café is a chain of Australian Café’s with 6 locations in Spain (Girona, Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid).

Those Australians man. They sure do know how to do brekkie.

I felt like I was in Soho except surrounded by 100X more history and charm as I sipped my turmeric latte (!!) and ate my Greek yogurt with granola, composing the perfect Instagram shot of Emily’s avocado toast with MACADAMIA NUT DUST.

Girona Travel Guide

Even though it may not have been a traditional Spanish meal, it was one of our favorites of the trip. I think it was a combination of being exhausted and finally sitting down, the gorgeous setting, the fact that we were outside and the weather was beautiful, plus the food being so so aesthetically pleasing – not the mention the waiter was very easy on the eyes.

As we sat there, I realized there were SO MANY cyclists. With BEAUTIFUL, expensive bikes. They were no joke cyclists – and Girona is no joke hilly. I also saw tons of people running…maybe that’s why I felt so at ease and relaxed in Girona. I was amongst my people! I had found the bike riding, hill running, turmeric latte sipping Catalonians!

We wrapped up lunch with the perfect amount of time to go to the bathroom and re-board our tour bus. I was sad to leave Girona – it felt so homey and comfortable there – but I kissed the Lioness’ Bottom so that means I’ll be back one day, right?

Salvador Dali Theater & Museum

As soon as we were back on the bus, our other tour guide started talking again – and he was talking a lot. I just wanted to sleep. Eventually I tuned him out and dozed on and off for the hour and 45 minute drive to the Salvador Dali Museum.

At this point, I didn’t really feel like wandering a museum for the 5 hours we would be in Figueres. But as we stopped outside the museum and our tour guide started speaking – I was captivated. Not only by the interesting information, but by our tour guides passion for Dali and his work.

The outside of the Dali Museum looks very strange – but when we found out that all of the little yellow things stuck to the building are supposed to be BREAD – I was like, “Wow, even stranger than I thought.” Oprah might love bread, but I think Salvador Dali loved bread even more.

It’s not just any bread on the outside of the museum (which Dali fully designed himself) – it’s bread that was historically made for funerals, giving the museum a bit of an eerie feel. But the giant eggs on top (yes, eggs) are full and uncracked, representing life and ideas. Dali has a quote that I love – “Beauty should be edible, or not at all.”

It was really cool going to a museum of an artist that was a lot more contemporary than a lot of the artists you typically study – his references seemed a lot easier to grasp and understand, despite the fact that he was a surrealist and a lot of his work is very “out there.”

Our tour guide took us into the museum and you first come to a giant courtyard that has a LOT going on. He talked us through a lot of it, and I found myself hanging on his every word. I also had an epiphany that one of the tattoos on his arm was Dali’s famous mustache – which is when I realized this guy really knew his Dali.

Salvador Dali Museum

Next we walked into the “theater” where there is a giant painting that will play tricks with your eyes – I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s cool! Then, we were told that we were standing above Dali – and he was actually buried right below us!

Dali was such an interesting person and I can’t wait to get my hands on a book to learn more about him. He was apparently super narcissistic, but clearly a genius in many ways.

I was sad when our tour guide was done speaking and sent us off to explore the rest of the museum on our own – but we really did enjoy a lot of the different rooms even though I’m not a huge art person.

The tour also included entry into the jewel exhibit – and while some of them were cool to look at, at this point I was dragging a little bit and didn’t spend much time there. The best part was potentially when we walking through the revolving doors into a pitch black room to a massive security guard standing there that literally made us JUMP and shriek. It was terrifying yet hysterical.

We exited and then realized we probably should have found a bathroom while we were inside before our two hour journey back to Barcelona. The security guard let us back into the jewel exhibit but we could not find a bathroom for our lives so we talked our way back into the main museum.

Then we sat outside at our meeting place and waited for the bus.

On the ride back we had WiFi and chargers - #BLESSED! Emily and I fell asleep listening to Ed Sheeran and other random tunes and the nap time was CLUTCH.

We got dropped off in Barcelona and started walking our way back to the hostel – I had survived the entire tour on two hours of sleep + random bus naps throughout the day! This newfound ability to function on almost no sleep set my “NO SLEEP TILL TUESDAY” tone for the remainder of the week. Eek.

Night Out

When we got back to the hostel we quickly showered so we could make it downstairs for 8:30 group dinner. When we got down there, we were the only ones, since the group activity for the day had been watching the sunset from “Bunkers” which is up above Park Guell. We sat around for awhile, I journaled and an Englishman made me a cup of tea! I was getting reallllly hungry but we held out and waited for the group to return – including Jon. They had all been drinking wine for the past few hours, so the mood instantly livened up.

Dinner was lasagna made by Simone – a young girl from Italy with the most magnetic personality in the world. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was free and fun to eat with the group – while drinking pitchers of sangria and getting ready for the night ahead.

I decided I couldn’t handle heels again, so I dressed down significantly for the second night. We got to the bar and everyone from the hostel was given a delicious shot (the sugary, mixed kind) and then we all went in on splitting liters of sangria that came out in little personal kegs with sparklers on top.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Around 1:30 we started the walk from the first bar to the club – a walk that I usually took to Instagram Live – WHY?! Someone needed to stop me. The club that night was Shoko, and like Opium the previous night it was down on Barceloneta Beach. You can leave the clubs and walk out onto the beach, which is pretty cool. We didn’t like Shoko as much as we liked Opium and we couldn’t exactly place what the reason was. I think this was the only night that we stuck to our 3:30 a.m. curfew because we weren’t having an absolute blast.

While waiting in the taxi line to go back to the hostel, men walk around selling bocaditos – so tempting, but Emily and I passed because we wanted to buy our own bread, meat and cheese to eat at the hostel.

Another day down, and we were starting to get into a groove!

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN SPAIN:

Barcelona: Day Two

Day two was our big sightseeing day – I had scheduled and pre-booked a bunch of tickets to hit all of the big tourist attractions. By the end of the day, Emily and I both agreed that we liked doing all of these in one day because a lot of the time, the tourist attractions ended up being a little underwhelming, though we are glad we could say we saw all of these main sights.

barcelona travel guide

La Sagrada Familia

We headed to the subway which was pretty easy to navigate as long as you knew which station you needed to get off at! Our hostel was verrrry close to one of the main subway lines and a bus stop too, which was really convenient throughout the week.

As soon as we got off the subway, there was the Sagrada Familia, looming over us in all of its incomplete glory. It was definitely a “WOW” moment, to just see it there in the middle of the city. I guess it’s how some people feel when they find themselves standing at the base of the Empire State Building for the first time.

La Sagrada Familia

I was absolutely starving, since we had never really eaten dinner the night before, and we stopped into a café down the block and sat down for a quick breakfast. I ordered a ham and cheese with a coffee. When my sandwich came out, I was instantly transported back to my childhood, eating a grilled cheese sandwich with ham on perfectly buttered and grilled toast. It wasn’t anything fancy – but it was perfect.

Barcelona Travel Guide

We were a few minutes behind schedule after paying, so we scurried over to the entrance of La Sagrada Familia, which we had pre-purchased tickets for. They sell tickets in time slots and I highlyyyy recommend booking in advance of your trip.

We were told we needed to enter on the other side of the church so we walked around, only to be told that I had printed my ticket confirmation, not the actual ticket, and we needed to go back to the other side to have my ticket printed. We did that, then went back to the other side and finally, entered the church.

The inside was impressive for sure – and because we were there at 9:00 a.m., it wasn’t yet completely packed with tourists. The sunlight was streaming through one particular stained glass window and was casting pretty lights and colors on some of the columns.

La Sagrada Familia

The concrete inside of the church looked so soft – almost like putty. When we touched them, we realized they were SO SMOOTH.

After looking around for a little while, we did the Nativity Tower tour– it’s an additional fee and you can choose to go up either the Nativity façade or the Passion façade. I had done some research, and settled on the Nativity façade because it offers better views and has less construction happening on it.

The views were nice, but not breathtaking. The most impressive part was the walk down the spiral staircase (you go up in an elevator) and looking all the way down down down. I think the reason we didn't love the view from the top is because La Sagrada Familia is the most iconic part of the Barcelona skyline, and it was missing since we were at the top of it!

La Sagrada Familia

Our general consensus was that the outside of the church was definitely the most impressive part – it’s so massive and so so detailed. It wasn’t until I was running around trying to find a bathroom that I realized there was an entire museum underneath – I wish I would have taken some time going through it and learning a bit more.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say that the interior of Sagrada Familia is an absolute must-see if you aren’t really interested in churches – but absolutely go to marvel at the exterior. If you do pay to enter the church, I recommend going up one of the towers to make it more worthwhile.

Parc Guell - Monumental Zone

After Sagrada Familia, we took our time walking from the church to Parc Guell. We bought some of the classic giant water bottles I remember from my trip to Greece (1 Litre for $1) and stopped in some stores along the way. I found the CUTEST store that had all healthy foods, juices and KOMBUCHA. I wished I was hungry so that I could have eaten there! They also had veggie shaped pillows that I was really tempted to buy.

Barcelona Travel Guide

We had perfect weather the entire trip (minus the soccer game) – warm in the sun, cool in the shade.  But man was the walk to Parc Guell hilly! After getting a little lost, we eventually made it to the park, but the signage made it difficult to figure out where exactly we needed to go to get to the “Monumental Zone” that we had purchased tickets for. Eventually, after asking a few people, we found our way to the queue.

From the line, we could see the classic Parc Guell benches that everyone takes their pictures at (including the Cheetah Girls).  We were really underwhelmed at first because they were just in the middle of a big dirt patch. We thought that was all our ticket was going to get us – and we were pretty disappointed as we stood in line for 20 minutes waiting for our 12:30 entrance time. Eventually, we realized there was an entire area of the park we were going to get to walk around. PHEW.

Barcelona travel guide parc guell

We had our photo shoot on the benches and I must say, for such an iconic photo, the benches really aren’t the best part of the park by any means. Our favorite were the Monument Stairs, where we took tons of pictures and enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful tile work that the park is known for.

Barcelona Travel Guide Parc Guell Monumental Stairs

We stopped at the café inside the park and I had a delicious mango coconut juice.

Barcelona Travel Guide

We finished walking through the Monumental Zone and one of my favorite parts was how amazing the flowers smelled. We stopped on a bench to listen to some music and it was so beautiful.

Gaudi House Museum

Next stop was the Gaudi House Museum, which is located inside the park. It was the cheapest tour we did at just around $6 and while it wasn’t very visually impressive, I really liked reading and learning more about Gaudi since he is such a huge part of the history and culture of Barcelona. Did you know he was a vegetarian?!

After the museum, which didn’t take long to go through, we made our way down from Parc Guell to find the subway. We somehow managed to pass it and had to backtrack.

Casa Batllo

We got off at our stop which was right outside of Casa Batllo, our final tour of the day. We had some time to kill, so I wandered in and out of some stores, including the TIGER department store which I absolutely loved! It’s a chain throughout Europe that started in Copenhagen. http://www.apartime.com/barcelona-guide/shops-&-markets/tiger-store-in-barcelona

At 5:00 we started our Casa Batllo tour and it was hands down the coolest museum/tour I’ve ever been to. You are given a mini iPad and headset and using augmented reality, you walk through the house, garden and roof while hearing tons of interesting information. On the screen, you can see how the space used to look – as you turn in the room itself, the screen reacts and shows you the area that you’re looking at. Not sure if that made any sense – but take my word for it – it was very unique and very much worth it!

Jon met up with us when we were in the fourth room – his hangover from the night before finally cured. We took our time going through Casa Batllo and it was nice to take a last look at it from the street on our way out, once we had learned more about it.

Casa Batllo Barcelona Travel Guide

Las Ramblas

Then, we started to make our way back, stopping in Zara before taking some pictures at Placa de Catlunya (I compared it to Columbus Circle). Then, we walked down the busy main street of Las Ramblas – essentially the Times Square (NYC) or 16th Street Mall (Denver) of Barcelona. Street vendors, chains, stores and tons and tons of tourists.  We definitely saw someone get pickpocketed as we made our way down Las Ramblas, and while I’m glad I got to see it, it definitely wasn’t my favorite place to be.

Arume Dinner

We got back to the hostel around 8:15 that night and had about an hour to shower and get ready for our dinner reservations. Callie had told me about a restaurant she loved so much she ate it twice during her trip to Barcelona last year, so I had booked us a table in advance.

We all decided to dress up since it was our one planned dinner out – and also Jon was excited to wear the dress pants he had bought at Zara.

Arume was a quick 15 minute walk from our hostel, which was good because I was wearing heels. Jon and Emily took beers for the road – which I’m still not sure is legal or illegal – but either way, everyone does it.

The restaurant was in the El Raval neighborhood, which I had read was a little seedy. Sure enough, it was the only time the three of us felt even remotely unsafe during the trip. And that’s dramatic – it just was clearly a little sketchier than most other areas.

When we got to the restaurant it was packed – and the spaces are just as small as many places in NYC. I told them I had made a reservation, but we still waited about 15 minutes to be shown to our table. The wait staff were extremely friendly and the restaurant was adorable.

We ordered drinks (Emily loved her Blackberry Mojito and I was in heaven with a Jalapeno Grapefruit Margarita) and were given a bread basket with olives and olive oil. I swear the olive oil is 100X better in Barcelona than it is here.

Our appetizers were the highlight of the meal:

“Uncle Walter’s Ceviche” with Almond Milk:

SO FRESH with little crispy corn cornels and watermelon – it was different, but so tasty, light and refreshing. Even Jon tried it and took seconds!

Spanish Betanzos Tortilla with Iberian Chorizo:

“Tortilla” in Barcelona is a very traditional dish – and it isn’t necessarily what you would expect. It’s potatoes, onions and eggs – almost like a frittata! The waitress explained that the traditional way of serving it is a little liquidy in the middle – and asked if we were ok with that. YES, traditional way please! Later in the week, our cooking class instructor also explained that a good tortilla should be moist in the middle.

The tortilla at Arume was cheesy and chorizo-y and very very good.

For our entrees, Emily and I decided to split two different dishes, while I convinced Jon that he should get the pork cheeks!

Arume Barcelona Review

Monk Fish:
Wok Cooked Udon Noodles in Red Curry and Langoustine Bisque

The monkfish itself was delicious, but even to me, the langoustines were super fishy. The udon noodles were very short, not typical udon noodles, and I didn’t get much of a red curry flavor. I didn’t love this dish.

Milk lamb “Raval Style:”
Sweet potato, cumin yogurt and Arabian Salad

I personally loved this – the lamb wasn’t the most tender I’ve ever had but I devoured the sweet potato puree and love cumin. It’s not for everyone though, and Emily thought that the dish was over-seasoned.

Iberian Pork Cheeks:
Iberian pork with orange, aniseed chestnut puree and apples.

Ever since trying my coworkers beef cheeks in St. Louis, I swore I would always order cheeks whenever they were on the menu. Instead, I convince Jon to order them. I tried a bite, and the meat was just as tender as I remembered. The chestnut puree was very interesting!

Opium Night Club

By the time we finished dinner it was pretty late, and we figured we had missed the group leaving for the bar. So Jon and Emily bought beers at the market next door and I bought myself a cheap bottle of Cava and we set out for the hostel.

When we approached the bus stop at the end of our street, we saw the entire group from Hostel One standing and waiting and decided, OK, guess we’re going out! I popped the bottle of champagne and passed it around before hiding it in my jacket and getting on the bus.

We walked a ways to the bar, I ditched the bottle of cava, and we entered the super packed space. Emily and I got margaritas which ended up being straight tequila. By the time I finished mine and Emily’s, the original plan was “just going to the bar, not the club” was out the window. I chugged a water bottle and said I would go to the club.

The group was going to Opium, a club that everyone had suggested. “We’ll just go to see it and then head home,” Emily and I said…….

Let’s just say, Opium was too amazing to leave at a normal hour. Instead, we stayed until about 4 a.m. and by the time we got a taxi and crawled into bed at the hostel, we had only 2 hours to sleep before our bus tour to Girona and Figueres.  

I had spent the entire night telling Emily, “you don’t want to see me on 5 hours of sleep,” “you don’t want to see me on 4 hours of sleep…” etc. but we were having such a blast! Opium was great – it was on the water, it wasn’t overly packed, we got a drink fairly quickly, and the music was PERFECT. I was a little overwhelmed by all the strobe lights, but once I embraced them, I was in heaven.

Moral of the story? The following day, Emily got to see me on 2 hours of sleep.

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN SPAIN:

Barcelona: Day One

I started my trip to Barcelona with the intention of journaling every day. That plan lasted until I got to the hostel – I have extremely detailed notes about my journey from NYC to Barcelona, but beyond that, I’m recapping each day based on memories, a few scribbled notes, my original itinerary and pictures in my phone.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Day One: Travel + Barcelona Football Match

I left my apartment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. after half a day at the office. As I got on the subway, I picked up a key that a woman dropped on the platform and returned it to her – praying that it was good karma that would protect me from Barcelona’s notoriously talented pick-pocketers (spoiler alert: all three of us made it through our trip without being pick-pocketed!)  

As I transferred from the 6 train to the E train, a nice man helped me down the 534543 stairs with my 44 lb. bag. It was a small miracle that my bag weighed in at under 50 pounds. Of course, I had spent the morning at the gym doing arm exercises and even the 44 pounds was a struggle for the hour and a half journey.

At one point, the train got stuck underground for a good 5 minutes and I did a very good job of not jumping to conclusions and panicking that we were stuck forever and I was going to miss my flight. Must be all that yoga keeping me zen...

When I made it to the Airtrain terminal I felt like such a tourist – the ticket machine was not my friend that day.

I made it to Terminal 8 of JFK by 3:23 and while American Airlines check-in and baggage drop process seems a lot less efficient than Delta’s, I was through security by 3:49 and meeting Jon at our gate!

At the gate, Jon finally decided to try to book all of the tours I had sent him weeks ago and while some were already sold out for the times Emily and I were going (Sagrada Familia and Park Guell), he got into a few.

Barcelona Travel Guide

My butt was in my seat at 5:07 and I was, as usual, in awe at these giant planes. First class has legit BEDS! I’m so used to flying domestically in tiny planes. Is it weird that I’m so much more freaked out by huge planes than little ones? They have no business flying through the air!

Dinner was some cheese and crackers and chicken with rice and some creamy sauce. The side salad was so pathetically sad, but overall I’ve come to expect worse from airplane food so I was pleasantly surprised.

American doesn’t serve Fresca, my go-to in-flight beverage, but on International flights beer and wine are free and they have DIET DR. PEPPER. That’s what I went with.

I slept from about 6-6:30, woke up briefly, and then fell asleep for another 30 minutes or so.

I started watching Passengers as I ate at around 7. By 8:15 I popped a melatonin and slept until 11:45 which is a solid chunk of time on a flight! When I woke up I finished watching Passengers and jotted down two quotes from it that I really liked:

You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be that you forget to make the most of where you are.”
“If you live an ordinary life you’ll have ordinary stories. You need to live a life of adventure.”

They seemed fitting for the start of my trip!

As we started coming in for our landing in Barcelona, I blasted Ed Sheeran’s Barcelona followed by George Ezra’s Barcelona – followed by Duele El Corazon.

We went through customs (Jon almost knocked over a temporary wall) and hung out for 2 hours or so while we waited for Emily to land. Jon got two pinchos at a restaurant – more on pinchos later – but we really had no idea what he was eating.

We scoured the place for outlets to charge our phones but had no luck.

When Emily arrived we made our way to the Aerobus, which we had pre-purchased tickets for. We had no trouble finding it. We stowed our luggage and connected to the free WiFi. It was a quick trip and while we originally planned on going from Placa Espanya to the metro, we chickened out and decided to hail a cab to our hostel and to figure out the metro when we didn’t have massive suitcases. (Ok, Emily and I had massive suitcases, Jon not so much).

We easily walked over to a cab and our driver was so nice! He knew we were American and put on an Eric Clapton CD and as we got closer to our hostel, he explained we would be staying in a neighborhood called El Poble-sec. Airbnb’s neighborhood guide (a feature that I love), describes El Poble-sec as:

“Tucked away in the shadow of Montjuïc, Barcelona’s “dry village” actually boasts the city’s cheapest bars. Transcending its previous reputation as a semi-seedy watering hole, Poble-sec is now renowned as one of Barcelona's favorite destinations for fashionable nights out. Many of Barcelona's best restaurants, tapas bars, and arts institutions make their mark in Poble-sec while its playful nature keeps it feeling down-to-earth despite its proximity to the heart of city.”

Our taxi driver also told us a good place to go for lunch in the area – his suggestion was in Placa del Sortidor (Sortidor Square) and was called El Sortidor. Our cooking class instructor ended up giving us the same recommendation later in the week. Unfortunately, when we went to eat there, the waitress either didn’t understand us or didn’t want to seat us because she said they were closed even though they clearly weren’t!

Anyway, our cab driver also told us that the main street we were living off of, El Paral-lel, gets its name because it runs parallel to the equator. Similarly, Avinguda Meridiana runs along the Prime Meridian.

He took a wrong turn as he talked to us and stopped the meter early – after having been warned so many times about sneaky cab drivers who take advantage of tourists, we had such a great first experience and were soon walking into Hostel One to check-in!

An impressively dread-locked Frenchman greeted us and helped us with our bags. We walked into the lobby/kitchen/common area and were offered breakfast (available every morning for 2.50 euro) but we passed. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we sat and got the whole spiel from Kim, another young person from France.

This was my first experience staying in a hostel, and I had originally gone back and forth between a hostel vs. an Airbnb. There are obviously pros and cons to both, but Hostel One really ended up exceeding my expectations.

We were given the door code (AMAZING not having to worry about keys!), the WiFi password, and told the rules about writing your name on anything you wanted to keep in the fridge.

Every day Hostel One hosted an outing to a touristy attraction – Parc Guell, Montjuic, etc. Then, each night at 8:30 pm, people staying in the hostel (or either of the other 2 Hostel One locations in Barcelona) were invited to enjoy a free dinner downstairs. The people who work for Hostel One are from all over the world, so one night you could be eating lasagna cooked by an Italian and the next, Quiche Lorraine cooked by someone from France! (Those were the two group dinners we joined in for). Dinners are donation based and the money from the previous nights dinner buys the ingredients for the next day's meal.

During the dinner, the staff would explain the plan for the evening – each night the group journeyed together to a bar at 11:30 PM, followed by a club around 1:30 AM. I knew before the trip that the hours in Spain were going to be a change, but actually hearing them say we weren’t leaving for the bar until 11:30 PM was crazy.

We locked up our things with the hostel and set out for Quimet & Quimet – a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain featured on his popular Travel Channel show “No Reservations.” It was super close to our hostel and we arrived about 20 minutes before it opened, and wandered around a little while to kill time. I found an amazing vegetable shirt in a thrift store and tried asking if I could try it on off of the mannequin but the language barrier meant no vegetable shirt for Lauren! SO SAD.

We were the first three people to enter Quimet y Quimet, which is an extremely popular and typically packed restaurant! We ordered our first glasses of sangria of the trip and while Jon was less than thrilled with the almost entirely seafood-centric menu, I was in heaven!

Quimet y Quimet

Quimet y Quimet’s famous for their montaditos – small, bite sized sandwiches. I ordered their most popular one – salmon, yoghurt and truffled honey. It was so so delicious. The bread was so crispy, light and airy, the salmon so fresh and the yoghurt so creamy. I could have eaten about ten of these.

I also ordered an order of the stuffed baby squid and the baby broad beans with codfish – both were incredible!

All that seafood cost me under $20 and was an amazing first meal in Barcelona!

After Quimet y Quimet, we made our way to another restaurant so Jon could get some meat – a cheeseburger to be exact. He considered it to be Spanish because the cheese was Manchego (MY FAVORITE).

Then, it was time to go back to the hostel and hope that our room was ready. We chilled in the lobby for about a half hour chatting with people as they came and went and (wrongly) assumed that they knew we were waiting to be shown our room. Finally, we were like, “uhmmm excuse me is our room ready yet?” And the guy was like, “Oh you’re ready to see your room? Yes!” OY. Just goes to show how much more laid back people are in the rest of the world.

When we got to our room, I was shocked at how big the lockers were. My entire large suitcase + carry on backpack fit in it no problem.

We realized none of us had the right converters/chargers for our phones and headed out on a mission to find the right converters – for just 5 euro we were in business. We took an hour nap before showering – I forgot how small European showers are. 

We stopped downstairs and headed to the subway with someone else from our hostel who was going to the Barcelona football game that night – he led us to the subway and when we got off, we followed the crowd towards Camp Nou, where FCB plays their games. We stopped at a bar along the way and after much struggle, I managed to order a “vino blanco” while Emily and Jon got huge beers in plastic cups that we drank in the street. We sat down at a table with two guys from Michigan and Boston who happened to be college hockey players. Seriously, cannot escape hockey. We got a little closer to the arena before stopping at bar #2.

Barcelona Football Game

We ducked into a souvenir shop before entering Camp Nou. Did you know they only serve non-alcoholic beer there? Fact.

Camp Nou is absolutely massive – the capacity is 99.354. Though I’ve been to the Big House, the size of Camp Nou was still impressive!

Honestly, I thought the atmosphere was going to be a little crazier than it was – but it was still a really awesome experience, especially because Barcelona won 3-0 and Messi scored two goals!

Another fun fact – at Camp Nou, the toilet paper is outside the stalls. So remember to take some before you go into a stall…

Camp Nou

It rained on and off throughout the game and luckily I had a rain coat but it was still very wet and pretty cold so we were a little cranky when we got out and realized it was going to be quite a struggle to make our way back to the hostel.

The line to even get INTO the subway station was absolute madness so we decided to start walking back towards the hostel (over 3 miles away) while trying to hail a cab. We walked for a LONG time before we were able to hail one, but eventually, we did.

Jon and Emily were champs and went down to join the hostel pre-game but I was absolutely exhausted and had no interest in being social. I went to bed and woke up to Emily returning at 4:30 AM and Jon coming back around 6 AM. Not only had they gone down to the pre-game, but they ended up “going to the bar with everyone for one drink.” Which turned into, “Going to the club just to see it…” This would continue to happen to us the rest of the week...

I had slight FOMO, but I also knew that the following day was jam-packed with tours and walking and I didn’t want to make Emily deal with a hungover, complaining Lauren all day.

READ ABOUT MY OTHER DAYS IN SPAIN: