BARCELONA! Drinking… sangria… (insert all Ed Sheeran lyrics here). I hate to say we were THOSE girls on our weekend in Barcelona, singing through the streets and embarrassing America. But at least we were having fun, right? I won’t even go into what happened when Despacito came on at the nightclub. It may or may not have been cringeworthy.
Our first day was pretty lazy, wandering the Gothic Quarter where we were staying. I’d definitely have to recommend Meson Castilla Atiram, as we were blessed with a private balcony and incredible view of a castle on a hill. Filled with 18th c Spanish decor, this hotel is characterized by wooden motifs, life size windows and sleek furniture that’s even cozier than you’d imagine. After getting acquainted with this pretty neighborhood, we made our way towards La Boqueria Market which was bustling with locals and tourists alike. Petite Spainish ladies “negotiating” with a force I wouldn’t want to mess with, prosciutto + parmesan filled cones, and sky high towers of fruit (passion fruit, kiwis and coconuts) were just a few of my first sights here. I loved the ambiance, but even more I loved that little prosciutto snack!
We grabbed lunch at a tapas place nearby since it was a little less expensive than the bars in the market and then started towards El Born where we hoped to find shopping. We quickly realized that this neighborhood is better suited for pretty apartment blocks and cocktail bars than shops, so we bookmarked it in our minds for after-dinner drinks and made our way back to the hotel for a nap. I know, I know, but sometimes you just gotta!
Feeling much more alive, we spent dinner at Sensi Mezzanine Tapas which had been recommended by a friend. We shared a unique hard boiled egg creation and a couple other tapas, while I ordered some pork loin and risotto for myself. Rule of thumb for tapas is 2-3 dishes per person! It’s just the right amount, especially paired with sangria.
After dinner, we walked back towards El Born for a quick drink at Crepes al Born, which had the vibe of a gem yet undiscovered by the mob of tourists. Three bartenders were slapping the suspended lamps for reasons unbeknownst to me, but the music was great and the crowd was young, so we embraced every second. Right across the way is Bar Sauvage, which is perfect if you’re looking for a local night out. The first floor is your average bar with pricey (and strong) drinks, and down below is an intimate cavelike area for dancing. They played mostly Spanish pop, but there were a few English songs mixed in. Ultimately we were looking for a bigger dance floor, but I did love our short time at this bar so definitely put it in your schedule!
If you’re looking for shots (and in Barcelona, just say yes!), Espit Chupitos has a shot menu of 150 different choices! I had my heart set on the flaming marshmallow shot, but after a quick consultation with Google Maps, it was a little further out than we expected so we made a vow to return next time. Instead, we grabbed a taxi and headed to the beach for the more touristy nightclubs that would give us more of the ambiance we’re used to.
We ended up being wrangled into Shoku, who should be ashamed of selling drinks for 16 euros/each, but I guess that’s what you can expect from a tourist trap. Be prepared to get harassed by men trying to get you to go into their club as soon as you arrive at this strip. They don’t take no for an answer, even if you walk away. So looking back, I may have avoided this area altogether. Then again, would I have been willing to miss Despacito?
We didn’t stay out too late according to the Spaniards — oh just 3am! Needless to say, we were exhausted. After only 4 hours of sleep, we rallied for our Hop On Hop Off bus tour the next day. This was the perfect thing to do on our rainy Sunday, and I’d highly recommend it! Barcelona is a huge city, and many of the sights are spread out all over. We found that the Blue Line took us everywhere we wanted to go, and our first hop off was Park Guell! You’ll know this as the Gaudi village, where painted tiles, drippy architecture and caves with spiraled columns abound. We wandered through the park before stepping into the ticketed bit, and were rewarded with performers spotted throughout. My personal favorite – this tap dancing troupe with a Latin twist on American classics like Isn’t She Lovely. And don’t miss the mosaic tiled ceilings!
We took a snack break at Brunch & Cake next, where we had a divine combination of ham, scrambled eggs and (surprisingly) mac n’ cheese! Loved this section of town, and it reminded me a bit of New York in fall. Afterwards, we hopped back on the bus towards La Sagrada Familia!
I’ve seen a lot of churches in my time, and I gotta say, most of them run together. They are all incredible in their own way, but the truth is it sometimes gets repetitive. We were initially going to skip seeing the inside of this basilica altogether. But as Julia Roberts once said, that would have been a big mistake. Huge! I’ve never felt closer to God than I did stepping through those doors. The sheer magnitude of the place is a reflection of His power and greatness, and that’s something we often forget these days. The ceilings are as high as the heavens, and an umbrella sits atop the cross in the middle to show that Jesus is the protector of all things. Stained glass refracts every sharp, bold color of the rainbow, and each spire holds symbolic significance. What I didn’t know before visiting is that the church is still in construction. We’re in the middle of history people! Gaudi only ever saw the Nativity Facade in his lifetime, and the projected end date for the construction is set for 2026-2028.
We headed back to Sensi Gourmet for dinner since we loved this family of restaurants so much, and it was again an excellent choice! Our after-dinner drinks were a little more tame at the worst-kept-secret in all of Barcelona. A speakeasy called Paradiso. Delicious cocktails and mine was even served in an eggshell!
I’m proud to say that our last day was pretty chill. We walked along the beach in the morning, starting at the W Hotel and making our way down the strip, stopping for a paella lunch at Ca La Nuri. Would definitely recommend, though a bit pricey. We continued on towards Casa Batlló where we window shopped, admired Gaudi’s home, and landed on top of the Hotel Majestic’s rooftop bar. This was one of my favorite stops actually! The best sangria of the weekend, a waiter that sang Lady Gaga and the comfiest sofa chairs I’ve ever relaxed in. I embraced the lush life for a little bit longer.
And with that we were off to London again!