3 Days in Barcelona: The Getaway

When I planned my trip to Barcelona from Paris, at the time I didn’t know anyone in Europe, and I also didn‘t have any concept of how much there was to do there. And since it was my first time in Europe, I wasn’t even positive that I would enjoy it.

To my delight, so far, everything has been pretty amazing. Those four months I spent in Mexico most definitely helped me to feel at ease moving around on my own. It’s funny how even though I don’t consider myself fluent in Spanish, I’ve completely lost my inhibitions about attempting to use what I’ve learned or making mistakes. While there is definitely a difference in accents and some of the words they use in Spain, I was still able to get by rather easily.

SO my 3 days in Barcelona went something like this:

Day 1: Sleep. All the sleeping. I was so exhausted from ripping the streets in Paris all I could do when I got to my room was rest. I did manage to get myself up and out around 10:30-11 p.m. to hunt for food. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go far. Cerveceria Universitat was right across the street from my hostel, where I had a full pan of seafood paella and one large glass of sangria.

 Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

Side note: IDK what they put in the Spanish version of Sangria, but afterwards I went promptly back to my hostel and back to sleep.  

Which, by the way, this was only my second experience staying in a hostel. Of course, I selected the option to have a private room, because I’m just not that into sleeping strangers. However, I do recommend it, as most hostels have that option. What makes stay at a hostel a bit different from a hotel is that typically, there’s a lot of socializing in the common areas, which (theoretically) creates opportunities to connect with others. In a dormitory, I think it’s probably even more likely that you’ll talk to others since y’all are sharing a room. But in my case, chatting over breakfast or in the laundry room was more than enough. And yes, I made time to do my laundry while there. That’s kinda become my thing—doing laundry on the road. I was rather thankful for the time saved not having to wash by hand.

Anyhow, the hostel I stayed in was TOC Barcelona. They do have others in different countries, plus one in Madrid, if you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood. Unlike the last hostel I stayed in (which was also quite nice) this one included housekeeping daily.

Day 2: I was motivated to get out of bed on day 2 primarily because breakfast (which was included) was scheduled to be over at 11—plus I planned to go on one of those free walking tours—which also proved helpful by showing us the ropes of taking the metro. If you can navigate the subway system in NY, this one is definitely figureoutable. Just remember to push the button on the car door to open it when getting off and on in the station. Otherwise, you could miss your stop.

It costs 9.95 Euro for a 10-ride pass, which you can share with others who might be riding with you. This is great to help you move around the city. I also took a few cabs here and there using the Taxify app, but I’ll have to tell you, if you’re used to Uber or Lyft (which they don’t have), you’ll probably get frustrated with the constant app buffering as you wait for it to locate a driver. On a couple of occasions during peak hours, I just hailed a taxi on the street because no rides could be found through the app. When it’s not busy, it’s fine, your ride will come pretty quickly. If you’re in a rush, it’s better to leave space for waiting or hailing on the street.

 Plaça Reial

Plaça Reial

So, to get to the Runner Bean walking tour I had to make haste about 6-8 blocks through the busy Las Ramblas section of the city. This area is packed with tourists, shops, restaurants and oddly, flower stands. There were like 2-3 on nearly each block.

I finally arrived to the Fountain where Gauldi erected his first city commissioned project. After we wandered around for 2.5 hours by foot and metro to different locations where his architecture can be found. His masterpiece, in my opinion, is the church. It. Is. MASSIVE. His plans for it were so ambitious, that it’s still unfinished. There’s supposed to be at least another 20 years of construction on it. Which is astounding, but also great that the city is still honoring his genius and carrying out his work.

 CASA MILÀ / LA PEDRERA

CASA MILÀ / LA PEDRERA

 PALAU GÜELL

PALAU GÜELL

My second stop of the evening was back to my hotel to shower and change and head to Barceló Raval Hotel to their 360-degree rooftop for a networking party. They typically host other events here, and it's definitely worth a stop (and a drink), just for the views alone. However, because I was still working, I was delayed for a couple of hours before I could break and go to the party. Hey… when you work online, the work has to still get done even if it means interrupting your flow midday.

Fortunately, this event, Startup my Rooftop, lasted until about 11:30. I arrived around 9-9:30 with just enough time to catch the tail end of the sunset and grab a glass of sangria. You’d think I learned my lesson from the night before—oh, but no. True to form, I was super tipsy AND starved. Normally, I don’t have a problem with a little pre-dinner cocktail. But IDK, my tolerance was either way down or the alcohol was way strong. My girl who suggested I come to Barcelona said the exact same thing, that she was way intoxicated her whole trip. In any case, they're not skimming on the alcohol here. So, you've been warned...

After the first drink, I knew I was already at my limit. And because Barcelona seems to thrive at night (mostly due to the whole mid-day siesta thing) finding a late-night bite was no problem. Plus, naturally, I made friends who were locals and happy to share pintxos (the Barcelona version of tapas) at La Tasqueta de Blai. This is us:

Day 3: After rushing by the all Las Ramblas shops the day before, I knew I wanted to do some shopping on day 3. I hit up SOUL, quaint little vintage shop and got two fab dresses and purse, plus a rack of stuff from H&M and Zara (which like Mexico, Zara is cheaper abroad than in the US). Here are some pics from the spoils below.

On my last evening, I’d heard that there was a huge beach party for the summer solstice happening near Villa Olympia, which also happened to be very close to the W Hotel. The area is a bustling portside neighborhood with lots of restaurants, perfect for dining al fresco or just wandering around soaking in the sun and catching a breeze.  So, after showering and breaking to fit in some work, I grabbed a taxi and took off in search of fireworks.

The W set up on the terrace was lovely (of course) and there was a proper view of the beach right alongside it. During the day you can pay 25 Euro for a chair and umbrella by the beach, but the terrace is only available to non-guests after 8 p.m., and the pool not at all (I suspect this might be different during the off-season).

All evening, however, I was waiting with anticipation of a huge fireworks display, which unfortunately never came. Although that was a bit of a letdown (my heart lives for fireworks) I still had a great time chatting up and drinking with a huge group of Londoner guys in town for a stag, which I learned means bachelor party. They bought food and drinks all night and we chatted about everything from travels to basketball. One very attractive (but married, booooo) guy was so happy to talk basketball since he says no one follows it in the UK, only soccer. I was more than happy to banter about Golden State, after we killed the Cavs in the finals the week prior.

I got back to my hostel around 1:30 in the morning and packed up, since I knew I was planning to sleep in before my flight to London the next day.   

Getting the metro back to the airport was my final test, which proved easier than I made it, but I got there, nonetheless. From Universitat, where I stayed the entrance to the metro is just across the street. The station to catch the Aerobus to take you to the airport was only 3 stops away. There are only two express buses that go to the airport A1 (Terminal 1) and A2 (Terminal 2). It costs 5.95 Euro to go one way on the bus, which has wifi and AC (thank gawd, ‘cause it was sweltering). And you can pay with anything less than a 20 right on the bus, no need for an advance ticket. Super convenient!

In all, my trip to Barcelona was a win—I'm excited to explore other areas, like the beach, the Gothic quarter, plus take a night time walking tour and a Paella cooking experience next time! And there will definitely be a next time.