Obviously, we love traveling, but visiting a city is even better when you get to meet up with one of your oldest pals. When my awesome friend Sarah told me that she had booked crazy cheap tickets to Barcelona in March for only $400 roundtrip (from OMAHA of all places! It's okay, that's where she lives), I scrambled to make sure I could meet up with her and her boyfriend, Ryan, on their European trip. For a second it looked like I'd have to meet them sans Tyler, but then Tyler miraculously got a long weekend, and off to Barcelona we went!
Both Sarah and I had been to the beautiful Spanish city before — we'd both studied abroad at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Århus, Denmark (at different times) and had visited Barcelona during our time in school. We both had super fond memories of the city from our time there, even if they were a bit foggy from Sangria, and were more than happy to return with our beaus to relive all our favorite parts — and food.
Once again, Barcelona did not disappoint! Both times I've gone have been in the spring (March, specifically), and I really think it's the best time to visit the city (or the fall, of course!). The city is, honestly, always bogged with tourists, but as with all European hot spots, they get unmanageable in the summer. Going in the early spring (where it's barely warm anywhere else in Europe!) allowed us to actually enjoy the sun and soak up the beautiful weather (and the sangria) without the throngs of people.
We loved romping around Barcelona with Sarah & Ryan, who were the perfect travel companions — and have plenty of photos to prove it!
WHAT WE DID:
- Rented bikes & shopped for unique art from El Ciclo: We were strolling along, on the way to the beach, when we walked by El Ciclo's storefront, which has these beautiful bamboo bikes and quite the display of beach cruisers and gorgeous lamps made from bicycle parts. Ever the curious folk, we peeked in, and had a long chat with owner and artist, Ramiro Sobral, who made all the bike art in his shop. Sarah & Ryan loved his pieces so much that they brought one home with them! We also totally loved biking around Barcelona. It's not ~incredibly~ bike friendly through some of the city, but there's a fantastic bike lane along the beach promenade, so we cycled on down to the beach and then leisurely experienced the city that way. It was a great way to enjoy the sun and take in the ocean air, and though there are bike rentals everywhere, we loved Ramiro so much and the interaction was way better than if we had just gotten the bikes off a machine downtown.
- Chowed down on brunch at Milk: I'd seen Milk featured on many "brunch" recommendations online, and was bummed after we tried to go our first morning and found a long line outside (they don't take reservations). We don't have brunch in Vicenza, so I was on a mission to get it while I could, so we tried again the next day and after a (not long, but what felt like agonizing) 20-minute wait, we got our table and were treated to one of the best brunches I've had in forever. They had such a great diverse spread of sweet & savory dishes, plus stuff for meat-lovers and vegans alike. The staff was crazy friendly and the decor, of course, adorable. Don't be scared off by the lines outside — it's worth the wait!
- Stayed in an Airbnb in Barceloneta: I went back and forth on where to stay in Barcelona, but settled on this apartment in Barceloneta for its proximity to the beach, and could not have been more happy. Our neighborhood was quiet (we're not great night owls) and felt very local, but was still close to all the hot spots, like a 5-minute walk to the Gothic Quarter, which seemed like more of the scene — which we got to be close enough to experience without all of the noise! Also, if you haven't stayed in an Airbnb before, use this link for $25 off your first night!
MORE OF WHAT WE DID:
- Brunched by the beach at Brunch & Cake: On our last day in Barcelona, we met up with a friend, Mike, who lives in the city and recommended we stop by Brunch & Cake. The restaurant has two locations, and we went to the one in Barceloneta, located across the street from the beach. The restaurant was quite the millenial spot, with things like dried edible flowers, smoothie bowls and elaborate plating (Tyler's food was served in a shovel?), but it was totally delicious and a welcome meal to hit our brunch itch!
- Ate tapas galore — everywhere! When we travel, we go 80% for the food, and we knew we had tapas look forward to in Barcelona. And maybe some folks would've branched off a bit, but since we were eating in a foursome and because they were so affordable, we basically ate tapas for every meal at brunch — and did not get tired of it! Patatas bravas (fried or roasted potatoes with a paprika sauce and sometimes cheese or mayo on top) were by far our favorite, but we also enjoyed grilled squid, manchego cheese, stuffed olives, bread with tomato paste and plenty of fried seafood. Our late lunch at La Catanya in the Gothic Quarter was probably our favorite tapas place (we washed everything down with lots of mojitos, though), though we also liked L'Òstia in Barceloneta.
- Played among Gaudi designs at Park Güell: If you do one touristy thing to do in Barcelona, make it Park Güell. The outskirts of the park are free, except for the middle, where most of famous archiect Gaudi's designs are, as it requires a ticket up until the evening, when it is also free. So, plan ahead and get tickets online before you go, or do the whole thing for free in the evening — but don't miss it, the unique architecture and design and beautiful views of the city.
EVEN MORE OF WHAT WE DID:
- Viewed the Sagrada Familia — from the outside: Yes, Gaudi's iconic church, the Sagrada Familia is stunning. And yes, I've heard the inside is insane. I'm sure it's worth the wait — we're just not into waiting in line, like, ever. Let me know what you think below! We enjoyed the outside plenty, with sangria in hand.
- Beached, morning, afternoon and evening: The most amazing thing about Barcelona is that it's one of the only European cities that is literally on a beach. Like, one with sand. That you can comfortably lay on. We biked down to the beach off Barceloneta and watched the sailers, wind surfers and paddle boarders off in the water. We didn't bring swimsuits (the water was a bit cold, but hey, it was March), but we were plenty fine buying a beach blanket off a street vendor and soaking up the rays with a good book! We returned that night with a bottle of Cavas (the local "champagne") and chatted in the sand until the sun went down.
- Had it all at Bodega la Palma: Our favorite meal in Barcelona, after brunch of course, was at Bodega la Palma — a cute, small rustic restaurant tucked away in the stone alleys of the Gothic quarter. The menu was seasonal, the wine local, the paella adorable and of course, the food was damn good and affordable — how can you go wrong there?
- Other things of note: People watching at Plaça Reial, a visit to the Picasso Museum, the Port Antic Antique Market, La Boqueria market (though honestly, any open Spanish market would be just as fun and not as crowded)
Photos and text © copyright 2017, Katie Currid. All rights reserved.