Lucky for me, I didn't have to pretend - I actually got to dance in the streets of Barcelona! Thanks, Ed Sheeran. In October, I flew to Barcelona for three days and remembered what it was like to fall in love with a new city again.
First, after some debate, I decided to include this not-so-great part of my trip because I think it speaks to how much goes into travelling and I am hoping it can serve as a lesson to others who are hoping to travel in the future. When planning our trip to Barcelona, my friends and I booked an Airbnb without doing too much research on it. As our trip neared closer, we began to realize our host was not responding to our messages, and that the place we booked had no reviews on Airbnb. This was a huge red flag to me, but there was not too much we could do at the time because our host had not technically done anything wrong.
Friday night, we arrived at our Airbnb and all the alarms immediately went off in my head. As I wrote in my post about Barbados, I am a huge believer in safety first when travelling and everything else second. There was just something about the place, and the fact we were sharing the apartment with our host, that made me uneasy. Looking back, I am pretty sure everything would have been fine - but I knew I would not have been able to enjoy my weekend with the anxiety I was having about the place. We had an unrestful sleep there Friday night, and ended up booking a last-minute apartment for the next two nights after. We did not get our money back, and spent money on a new place, but it was completely worth it to me so I could actually enjoy the trip and not worry about my safety at night.
As a rather inexperienced traveller, I learned a lesson the hard way: do a lot of research on a place, particularly properties rented by others like Airbnb's and Homeaway's before booking. The last thing you want to worry about while exploring a new country is the security of your accomodation at night. I definitely learned my lesson and have been much more careful when travelling since.
Thankfully, though, the apartment we ended up in was absolutely gorgeous. It was located right in the center of the Gothic Quarter, arguably the most beautiful, bustling part of Barcelona. In three days, we hopped all around the city and got to see so many amazing things.
Exploring the city
One of the first things we saw in Barcelona was the Arc De Triomf. It is a huge, beautiful arch at the top of a long stretch of trees and a walkway down the middle which is full of street performers and vendors. There is a picture of me at the Arc on my About page. I was fascinated with the architecture and aged, yet modern feel of all of Barcelona and the Arc was a perfect example of this unique combination.
Next, we made an essential stop at Park Güell, one of Barcelona's most famous attractions. It is home to the famous Iguana and other absolutely beautiful picturesque icons of Barcelona. The park gains elevation quickly as you walk up the spiralling pathways, and as we reached the top, it began to feel more like a hike than, dare I say, a walk in the park. However, the view from the top is beyond stunning. When we finally reached the top, panting from the climb and sweating in the 75 degree heat, I could not believe my eyes. You can truly see the entire city and coast.
We also had so much fun just exploring the Gothic Quarter and visiting all the different markets, fountains and the coast and ocean boardwalk in the quarter. I can confidently say the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is officially on my list of favorite places in the world.
On Sunday, we took a tour to Montserrat, a mountain outside of Barcelona in Catalonia which boasts a beautiful monastery as well as a fun farmer's market at the top, along with stunning views. Our tour was so fun and we had time to see the monastery and the famous Black Madonna inside. She is a statue that is known to give people good luck, and people pay and wait in line for literal hours just to touch her. After we explored the monastery, we had time to visit the farmer's market, which is known for its amazing variety of cheeses. We had the chance to try a "cheese cone," a cone filled with eight different cheeses, as well Mató, a traditional Spanish cheese dessert topped with honey.
Oller Del Mas Vineyard
After spending the morning atop Montserrat, our tour took us to the Oller Del Mas Vineyard in the valley of Montserrat. There, we took a tour of the winery, and then had an amazing tapas lunch with a wine tasting, where we got to try three different wines made at the vineyard. The vineyard was so beautiful and has been passed down through generations of a Catalonian family for decades. On top of that, the tapas and wine were amazing. The white wine sample was absolutely the best white wine I have ever had.
The food in Barcelona was some of the best I have ever had. Saturday and Sunday night, we went to the tapas bars La Luna and Sensi Bistro. In this type of restaurant, you get a list of tapas, which are small plates of food, and order about 6-8 depending on how big your group is, and everyone gets a little of each. I absolutely love tapas because it is a great way to try a little of so many different kinds of food. Both bars we went to served absolutely amazing food. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture at either because the bars are pretty dark and using flash for a picture inside is frowned upon. But, I can attest each dish was amazing, with the cod croquettes and the ravioli as my favorites.
We also checked out a candy store called Happy Pills. The store is set up to be like a "drug store," and you fill a "pill bottle" with whatever colorful, sugar gummy candy you want from each color-coded section. Not only is the candy so yummy, it is such a fun and unique experience. I ate my entire pill bottle of candy in 24 hours and now proudly display a cute "Don't worry, be happy" Happy Pills sticker on my Mac.
Overall, my three days in Barcelona were beyond amazing. I'm awful at picking "favorite cities" but it is definitely somewhere in the top of my list. I am hoping I can go back for longer (and stay in the Gothic Quarter again) someday in my future. But until then, I am back to pretending I am dancing in the streets.
Stay tuned for my highlights post of Paris next week! xxx
P.S My amazing friend and travel buddy, Veronica, is a film major and makes amazing videos documenting each of our trips. Watch her video from Barcelona below for more awesome views from our trip!
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
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