Before going to Barcelona, pretty much everyone I spoke to told me it is an amazing city... Beautiful architecture, fantastic nightlife, stunning beaches, etc... After just a short weekend taste of this metropolis, I have to admit that they are absolutely right. This little weekend getaway was planned ages ago, when my Dad told me that he and my Stepmom were going on a Mediterranean Cruise and he suggested I meet them at their first port where they would be staying in a hotel for one night. While I was quite insulted that they did not find it necessary to invite me on the entire cruise, I was overjoyed at the idea that I could visit with them and explore Barcelona for the first time. As luck would have it, there are very strict rules about an extra person crashing in the hotel since it's part of the cruise package deal, which meant that I got to have my own hotel room all to myself both nights, tra la...
I flew from Paris Friday morning so that I had most of the day to frolic around and do whatever I wanted. My Dad and Stepmom wouldn't be arriving until the following morning, so in some ways it felt like my first little voyage all on my own (aside from moving to a foreign country in the first place of course). Given my reputation for having zero sense of direction, I am actually quite capable of finding my way around when left to my own devices... Especially in the day and age of GPS on your smart phone. But the bus from the airport to Barcelona center is incredibly easy, and the metro seems just as accessible. It turned out that my hotel was in fact a stone's throw away from the drop-off point, though it took me going on the metro the wrong way and backtracking to realize that I hadn't needed to take the metro at all since it was only one stop away (I didn't say there were still no bumps in my navigational road). Even more delightful, the walk involved a stroll down La Rambla, a main thoroughfare of shops and restaurants and stands selling various wares. Later in the afternoon, I couldn't resist buying a sweet little wreath of flowers for my hair from one of the many flower vendors. My hotel itself was located in the heart of the Gothic district, all winding medieval streets and alleyways, an aesthetic I truly loved wandering around.
Once I dropped my bags at the hotel, I set off to find the beach first and foremost, knowing I would see many more of the touristy sites the following day. The weather was blissful, sunny and in the 70s, making it a perfect afternoon to lounge on the sand. I didn't bring any beach regalia because I wasn't expecting it to be warm enough to galavant in the waves, but just soaking in the sun was absolutely fine by me. Eventually, I made my way back to the neighborhood of my hotel, where I stopped into an amazing fresh market called La Boqueria. All manner of fruits and meats and tasty treats to feast your eyes upon, not to mention your stomach. In the end, I decided on a lovely snack consisting of a pumpkin carrot ginger empanada and half a piece of cactus fruit... Yummmz! I took my delectables back to the hotel room so I could fill up and after get dolled up for my night about the town.
Happily, a friend that I met while teaching at an English school in Manhattan a couple of years ago currently lives in Barcelona. I had reached out to her a while back and she was totally willing to give me heaps of advice and meet up with me for some drinks and tapas... Tapas... This was my first experience partaking of them in their native land and let me just say, perfection. When I was younger, I never liked sharing food, mainly because I was too picky and didn't want to try things I was uninterested in. I have very successfully grown out of that habit and find the entire culture of sharing small plates infinitely satisfying. My friend met me at my hotel and then we went off to jump into the Barcelona nightlife. Neither of us are what you might call the clubbing type, so instead we did some fun barhopping. Because she knew my penchant for the fanciful, our first stop was a bar that had enormous trees and fairy lights in the main room. There were small bars and stools wrapped around each of the tree trunks, so I was basically in heaven. With my flower crown atop my head, I felt even more like a regal fairy princess than usual. We had a few tapas, a glass of cava each, and then went on to another spot. Apparently Barcelona is generally pretty cheap when it comes to food and drink so the fact that cocktails were almost €8 at the first place was too high a price in my friend's opinion (I so wish that was the case in Paris!). We spent a funfilled evening catching up and particularly sharing our language angst, both living in cities where everyone is desperate to practice English while we scuttle along with our lingering lack of foreign language skills. Ultimately, we made our rounds to about 3 more bars that night, I ended up back at the hotel at approximately 3am, and yes... I was tipsytastic in a delightfully contented Barcelonian sort of way.