do you ever feel like you’ve been trapped in a time warp? like months of your life have been sucked away, disappearing into oblivion while you’ve just tried to survive?
welcome to march-september of 2016 for me.
we decided at the beginning of march that we were going to buy the home we had been renting for a year and a half. approximately six months, three contracts, and two homes later, we closed on a different house. oh, and don’t forget to throw three international trips into the time warp.
needless to say, it’s been half a year of holding on for dear life. while our dreams for buying our rental home didn’t work out, we have started to settle into our beautiful new (old, as in originally constructed in 1936) home in the ormewood park neighborhood of atlanta. and i finally i have time to write and create again.
at the end of june our first contract fell through, the one on our rental home, and we decided that we needed a vacation. the travel stars aligned, the brexit vote led to some incredibly good fares from atlanta to europe, and we booked flights to paris (of course), barcelona, and menorca. the next two months flew by, and we (after packing up our house and preparing to move two days after our vacation) hopped a few flights and landed in barcelona.
upon arrivng in spain we were greeted by my brother and sister-in-law who were there visiting her family. she grew up just outside barcelona in a town called matadepera, and the four of us spent our first night relaxing in her hometown, eating more cured meats and other local fare than i ever thought possible. the next couple of days and nights were a whirlwind of activity, though, with the four of us exploring some of the highlights of barcelona. we ate and drank in both the sights and the local delicacies, and we left looking forward to the next time we visit.
eat and drink:
breakfast calls for ensaïmadas, soft, snail-shaped pastries native to southern spain. paired with a café con leche. pop in to any local bakery to start your day off with this treat.
in between breakfast and lunch is a break called vermut, a time for a snack and drink. share an estrella damm and some patatas bravas with friends, tiding your appetite over for a couple hours.
when the mid-to-late-afternoon rolls around, it’s lunchtime in barcelona. if you’re looking for a quick, easy, and delicious meal, head to conesa for the queen mother of all pressed sandwiches. conesa has been using the same press for over sixty years, so it goes without saying that the sandwiches are magical. i had the mallorquín, a tasty combo of sobrasada, a spicy spanish paté of sorts, and cheese. if you’ve worked up a bigger appetite as you’ve walked all over the city, go to 7 portes for paella. i would argue that one small paella was enough for two people, but the other three people i was with would disagree. either way, order a seafood or mixed paella and dig in.
early evening might bring about some hunger pangs, so enjoy some churros and the swiss hot chocolate at la pallaresa or a sweet treat and coffee at la colmena (the meringues are to die for). caffeine is essential in order to stay awake for dinner if you are a jet-lagged traveler.
things start to liven up and dinner begins no earlier than 9:00pm, and el nacional is the spot for dinner. a creative concept, to say the least, el nacional is five restaurants inside one restaurant. with its lofty ceilings, open dining areas, and the prettiest bathrooms you’ve ever seen, this restaurant is in a league of its own. as you explore, you’ll find five different dining concepts: a tapas area, a seafood spot, a brasserie, a deli, and a cocktail and oyster bar running through the center of the large restaurant. we chose the taperia, and spent our evening trying different plates as we sat at the bar. the taperia has a ready-to-order menu of hot and cold tapas, but the fun feature is the rotating menu of hot tapas that come out of the kitchen with limited availability. the server carrying the tray of tapas will loudly announce what he or she has to offer, and whoever calls dibs on the plates gets one. since we sat at the bar and were conveniently located next to the kitchen door, we got first choice every time. all we do is win.
this was my second trip to barcelona, and both times my favorite sight was the sagrada família. it is the most stunning piece of architecture i’ve ever seen, and it is completely worth fighting the crowds of tourists to see it. buy your tickets online in advance to beat the crowds. also worth visiting if you have time are casa battló and park güell. basically, you can’t visit barcelona without seeing at least one of the works of antoni gaudí.
if you are in barcelona, you will inevitably spend time walking along la rambla, arguably the city’s most famous walking street (or collection of streets, also called las ramblas). stop by la boqueria to grab a fresh fruit juice and see local vendors selling, meats, cheeses, and spices galore. follow la rambla to the liceu opera house, then walk down to the beach for some surf and sun. head back into the city center through the barri gòtic, or the gothic quarter, to see more historic sights. venture into the plaça reial to grab a bite to eat, and you might even be lucky enough to see some street performers in the square.
it seems like fesitvals are a weekly occurrence in barcelona, so find a block party or something of the sort to attend during your stay. one night we ended up at a party in a large alley packed to the brim with people, and we sang along (in english) with the locals (in spanish and/or catalan) to shakira as we drank beer and danced. had it not been abnormally hot, and had we not felt jetlagged, we probably would have stayed all night. these sorts of events are the ones that make a culture come alive to a foreigner.
while i wish i could recommend more, we only had one weekend to spend in barcelona. we packed in a lot of walking, eating (so. much. eating.), drinking, and sight-seeing, but there are always more sights and experiences just waiting to be unearthed. if you have any favorite things to do or see in barcelona, please leave your recommendation(s) in a comment!