This trip to Barcelona came at the perfect time for me. Leading up to the trip, life had been crazy. On top of working a lot, I had a lot of other ventures going on. I couldn't seem to catch up on anything. So, when I finally got to JFK for our BCN flight, I felt like I could breathe again. I went to Barcelona with C, my dear friend/sister from another mister/A1 since Day 1/Ride or Die. The only thing that we planned for the whole week was where we were going to stay...
We chose to stay at the Black Swan Hostel, a great new hostel in a fantastic location. It's a small hostel, so you have a better chance of connecting with people staying there. They have a free breakfast, free (or really cheap) dinner most nights, and a free hostel pub crawl just about every night, among other interesting activities. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful - we got a lot of our recommendations for food from the volunteer hostel staff. The hostel itself is located very close to several Metro stations, giving you a lot of options for getting around town. The beds were comfortable, the amenities were on point, and the atmosphere was super chill. The Black Swan Hostel is just about everything that I want in a hostel. I was kind of hesitant on mentioning it here because I want to keep it my little secret ;)
I was surprised at how walkable Barcelona is. A lot of points of interest are located within reasonable walking distance of each other. I'd say that we walked more than we used the Metro. The only day that C and I were tired of walking was the day that we went up to Castell de Montjuïc - it's quite a hike from the funicular station if you don't pay the fee to use the cable car. But the views of Barcelona are definitely worth it.
Sagrada Familia is a must if you visit Barcelona. It's still under construction (and will be until 2028), but it is gorgeous both inside and out. I always get a little emotional when I visit grand basilicas and cathedrals - Sagrada Familia is no exception. Inside, the walls are bathed in the light shining through the beautiful stained glass windows. The entire basilica looks like it was chiseled and hewn from one giant stone. I could get lost studying the Gaudí architecture. Each inch of this church has been created with passion and care. You can tell. *Buy tickets beforehand to avoid long lines!*
We did visit a beach in Barceloneta one afternoon. The beach was nice. A balmy 22ºc/72ºF with a light breeze and no clouds in the sky. I'm usually not one to lay out on the beach for more than an hour or so, but we were out on the beach for four hours. The weather was perfect. The only thing that disappointed me about the beach was the sheer number of street (beach?) vendors selling things that we didn't want or need. There's nothing like settling in for a nice nap on the beach and having to drown out the sound of people asking you if you want a mojito, blanket, beer, water, or a massage. ?
The Picasso Museum was another place we visited during the week. It has one of the most extensive collections of Picasso's work. While going through the museum, you can see the progression of Picasso's works - how he was inspired by certain things and how these inspirations played out in his works. He created a breadth of work that I was unaware of until I visited the museum. Definitely a good spot to check out if you like art. *Buy tickets beforehand to avoid long lines!*
We visited Park Güell on a very rainy day. We thought that the weather would keep most of the tourists at bay. Not the case. Even though it rained for most of our visit, the park was packed with tourists. And giant brollies. It was a long walk from the metro station, which already wore us out. Then the park was packed. And then it wasn't as big as we thought it was. That's okay, though. It's still beautiful. This work by Gaudí is almost like being in a fairytale. It's almost interactive because you're walking in, around, and through the masterpieces themselves. Though it was rainy and full of inconsiderate tourists, it was still breathtaking.
I don't think I had a bad meal while in Barcelona. One day, we wanted to have tapas, but didn't know where to go. One of the hostel staffers told us to go to Carrer de Blai - it's where the locals go for tapas. This street is lined with tapas restaurants and most of the ones that we went to over the course of the week were SO GOOD. In some of them, they had €1 pinchos - hors d'oeuvres skewered with a toothpick onto a piece of bread. Grab some of those and a pitcher of sangria and you have yourself a fantastic Spanish dinner! We went back to Carrer de Blai about three times. It was nice to not pay the tourist tax (you know - paying more money for things because they're close to points of interest) and enjoy local food.
We also visited Gustos BCN (Comtal) on the recommendation of a hostel staffer. Fantastic prix fixe menu with 2 courses, a drink, and dessert for €11. So much food and so so good! It's a great place to go for paella!
Much to our surprise, we went out every night. Every night. The hostel pub crawls ended up at a different club every night. Hey, we were on vacation and could afford to stay out till 0430 every morning! ?? The clubs on the beach were a lot more fun than other clubs that we went to, but the ratio of men to women was ridiculous. 75% men, 25% women. No joke. So, ladies, if you're going out to the clubs on the beach in Barcelona, be prepared for that crazy ratio. It was like that every night that we went.
We met so many fantastic people throughout the week. One night, C and I got most of our hostel room to go out for tapas and sangria with us. Most nights, we assembled a turn up crew that would roll with us from the hostel pub crawl to the club. So, to all of those that we met in Barcelona, you are an integral part of the memories from our trip. Thanks for being amazing. Thanks for sharing your lives with us. One of my favourite parts of traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. Hopefully, life will allow us to meet up in the future.
Here's to Barcelona,