I am sorry, where did summer go? I know we all complained when it was the temperature of the sun that we had forgotten what rain feels like and we were all going to shrivel up into little raisin beings but we weren’t… I want the sun back. I have had enough of this sub-30 degree weather already.
I feel like this summer has been crazy hectic anyway. Picking up an extra freelance gig and deciding I actually need hobbies outside of drinking wine in peoples gardens turns out to be quite time consuming/ knackering.
I wrote about my trip to Budapest earlier this year which I loved. It was like nowhere I had been before and it was nice to just to get away from my laptop for a few days. If you haven’t been I recommend you get yourself on skyscanner immediately! However, coming back to work only made me want another longer break. So a couple of weeks later I booked Barcelona with four friends (the fore mentioned Budget Little Mix- not a self-given title but one given by an older man in an attempt at a compliment…)
As I said, after picking up extra work and the heat wave which meant I essentially spent every waking moment either in work willing to be outside or outside melting into a puddle of sweat and residual wine (sexy, I know) I was very much ready to not be in the country for a few days. And oh my god Barcelona did not disappoint!
Rather than splitting up the trip into days/ nights I thought I would split it into activities instead, starting with the first and most important…FOOD.
I would go back to Barcelona just to eat. Seriously, just leave me there with the funds to get obese. I knew before I left that the tapas was going to be nice but wow. What became abundantly clear within 24 hours of us being in the city was that we were ordering WAY too much food. Now, I didn’t go away with girls that can’t eat- funnily enough I don’t seem to attract those people. However, we were ordering the amount of tapas we would at home- three or four plates each. No no no. I have never seen so much food in my life. We were stacking patatas bravas on calamari and chorizo. It was a mess and I would like to say we learnt our lesson but we didn’t and there was never that much left at the end of the sitting. I just spent most meal times feeling physically unwell.
Whilst everything we ate was delicious we were given a couple of recommendations. Stay off las ramblas for food and drink. It is SO expensive, the vibe is weird and it is touristy as hell. My favourite tapas was in the district of El Born although, being greedy and rubbish I now can’t remember the name of it. On one of the afternoons, knowing a storm was coming Becky and I wanted to grab some food and like the holiday organisational wiz that she is she found this little tapas place. It was INSANE! Pictures don’t do it justice and I can’t even begin to describe how good the sardines and tuna we had were.
Basically, I want to go back to Barcelona just to sit in a restaurant and eat tapas and drink sangria.
In the same vein the nightlife in Barcelona was so much fun. Same recommendation applies, don’t go anywhere near las ramblas unless you’re walking to somewhere else. We made the trip down there on a couple of nights and once you wade through the men asking if you’re going to the beach in your dress and heels or are looking for some coke you can’t get seated and have to spoon your bag for dear life in fear that it’ll get stolen. I had one friend get picked up and carried off- apparently her ‘husband’ decided he was laying claim on her and whilst the offer of ‘jiggy jiggy’ dancing is tempting, it was surprisingly always a no from me. We had one drink on las ramblas on the first night- we were tired and completely phased by the reps. I had some sort of syrup water posing as a strawberry daiquiri which I would put my limited life savings on the fact that it had no alcohol in but gave me the biggest sugar rush I have had since I drank Capri Sun as a child.
On one of the nights Becky and I ended up heading out alone. We were in the Gothic Quarter which was great for little bars. Although it was a Thursday it felt super busy and the vibe was really good. We ended up talking to some people who were living in the city and going on to a techno club and whilst I have limited appreciation for techno I do appreciate attractive, tall German men and cheap drinks so off we went. It was so much fun, we both felt completely safe (unlike the creeps of Budapest) and we left to stuff our faces with paprika lays/ scatter crumbs all over the bed and then pass out.
Alternatively, Barca also has the bigger clubs along the beach. Entry was fairly expensive but on one of our last days we were all lay on the beach, trying to sweat out a hangover when a very attractive Swiss guy approached. If you have seen Mamma Mia 2 young Bill then you know! He literally could have sold us our own sun cream and we would have bought it. We ended up buying some wrist bands for a roof party and club entry for that night.
Now, the roof party had a bit to be desired- it reminded me a little bit of a networking event I had been to a few weeks previous. However, we were all together, on the beach front and looking our best so it was fine (a bottle and a half of spirit was also thrown in with the wrist band which eased being stranded on the top of a building with the cast of the inbetweeners). However, paying for the wrist band was made so worth it when we went down to the clubs later on. After drinking Charlotte’s concoction of rum, gin and cloudy lemon (it tastes how I imagine the black water that Dumbledore has to drink would taste) I was ready for a dance. We ended up in Catwalk (because I am not fully confident we could have found Pacha at that point). The music was so good and I haven’t danced like that in so long!
Before we left everyone I spoke to said there was always a party in Barca and they were so right. It was so much fun and everyone was so nice. For some reason a pint in the local doesn’t quite match up to Sangria with the view of the sea.
There is literally a million and one things to do in Barca during the day. I usually come to the end of the trip and don’t feel the need to visit again but I don’t even feel like I scratched the surface this time. It combines lazy beach holidays with city breaks so you’re spoilt.
On the first day Becky organised us a walking tour and I maintain these are the best ways to see a new city. Armardo, our tour guide was the most enthusiastic man I have ever met…in my life. It was grinding at first but once I had coffee in me I appreciated that very few people could make describing the hundreds of saints of Barcelona quite as interesting as he did. There was so many photo ops, it helped us get our bearings and he was fairly useful for food recommendations.
We also did an art tour and I now know more about Gaudi than I ever wished to. Whilst we did it on the hottest day of our stay which was slightly unpleasant we did get to see a lot of his work, including the Sagrada Familia. I also got to frolic about in a tshirt and not much more in the sun outside the café/bar that Orwell wrote 1984 so a girl can’t complain.
Obviously, the beach in Barca is stunning and the weather while we were there was perfect. I am not very good at lying still on the beach. For about 10 mins I am happy, then I try and read, end up wriggling to find a comfortable position, get distracted by a hot person down the beach, realise a boob is making a bid for an escape and end up burning a weird bit of skin I have missed with lotion…it’s all a bit stressful. However, the couple of beach afternoons we had were so nice, it never felt too busy and there’s men that go round with bevs and doing henna. The henna is probably a no but I can thoroughly recommend the Sangria (as always).
On the one day that it rained (I did not sign up for that) there was loads to do too. Whilst we shacked up in a restaurant whilst the storm passed we then donned some very fetching pink ponchos (when a tourist) and made our way to the Picasso Museum. It was heaving and there was a 40 minute wait but once we were inside it was awesome. There is no way I would have gone if it hadn’t been raining and I am so glad we did! After wandering around and regaining the feeling in my very wet, sandal clad toes we found a really cute little indie coffee shop to grab a flat white and cake. Because no matter where you are, did you go to a museum if you didn’t have a coffee and a cake?
I am going to keep this section really short because a) it is boring and b) I have only just come up for air and realised how long this post is. Everyone will tell you- I am talking your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, friends of friends, relatives you haven’t spoken to in months, strangers on public transport- Barcelona is the pick pocket capital of Europe. My parents, obviously always have a chat with me before I go away about safety etc but I have never seen anything like this. My dad came home from work a few days before I left and said his colleague’s daughter had some of her hair chopped off and stolen in the street….
Whilst I can’t tell you how to hold onto your hair it is so clear how people get things stolen- it is busy, you’re hot and distracted and on holiday so your inhibitions are already down. After a VERY stern talking to and a demo on how to hold our bags from Albert, the man who owned the apartment we were staying in, we were good to go and whilst we laughed I am thankful because we all came away with all of our possessions (and hair).
So that is it! As you can tell by the sheer length of this post and I so badly want to go back to Barcelona. It has been on my list for such a long time and I have no idea why I didn’t take the plunge and go sooner. If you have a bit of time and need some sun and fun I couldn’t recommend anywhere more!