I took my new friend’s advice to do exactly what I wanted at all times during this trip. With all the pressure of having to see certain things in a city you can often lose sight of important vacation goals like relaxation! As a result, I haven’t really left my hotel until 1pm all this week after some chatting with home and blogging and I spend my afternoons walking aimlessly and perusing shops and alleys. It’s been fantastic with something new behind every corner–blocks with only bead stores, massive ornament statues, abandoned buildings, people wildly dancing in the streets.
Judge it all you want, but hey I’m having a great time doing “nothing”. I think this approach to the trip is exactly what I need. Also, if I wasn’t randomly wandering I wouldn’t have found the Catalan Bombers (firemen)!
Anyway, yesterday I had the random experience of meeting some expat Americans living in Barcelona with similar priorities: food, wine, food, cocktails. They were the nicest people I’ve encountered in a long time and it reminded me… Oh yes, how really great traveling alone can potentially be. I think without all of these new friends, this trip could have continued to be a nightmare!
We went to a few spectacular places. First, a cool craft beer place called Georges and Dragons. Then we headed off to a lovely wine bar, grabbed something to eat at Fantastico and landed at 41 Grados for cocktails (and to meet Albert Adria).
Spectacular night. I was giddy with Albert’s celebrity status and totally dig the two kiss cheek greeting thing.
My first day was really rough with apartment issues, but I was able to catch La Pedrera before it closed, and see the rooftop right at sunset. If you are going to visit any of the Gaudi sights (which you must to have really seen anything), this should be your first because the mini museum inside provides a lot of context to the others.
I started off my second day at La Manual Alpargatera, the old school shoe shop in El Gotic that specializes in espadrilles.
If you look up all the places in the city you must visit to shop it is in the top ten of about every list. This is where I met my new friend, and went on to have coffee and dish about how tough and great traveling alone is (see here).
She was nice enough to walk me over to the cathedral where I discovered the most spectacular views (for 6€ to get into the church) and a local-oriented Christmas market. I don’t think Barcelona is a Christmas market destination. The markets are mostly mini nativity scene pieces, garlands, lights and simple ornaments. It was great to see but if you are looking for many unique stalls and offerings, I would head to Berlin!
I told my old school Catholic grandma about the church and she was equally shocked that you had to pay to go inside, but agreed it was just a donation. She proceeded to give me a lecture that I’m young and shouldn’t worry so much about spending if I have my savings! LOL, oh grandma.
In the early evening I headed over to La Boqueria to pickup some breakfast for the next day.
In the evening I finally landed at Tapas 24, my favorite tapas bar! (I wish you could sense my enormous amount of excitement for this place).
Tapas 24 is… AMAZING. They have your standard tapas elevated to the next level. I’m really upset that they don’t have the squid paella anymore, but the baby squid and prawns are never-fails and are ridiculously fresh. You should remember to ask for the shrimps and squid when you go because they didn’t have them when I first arrived (8p). I was asked to eat slowly for thirty minutes for when they did come! It was heaven. The squid comes with the ink still inside. They were about the size of my nose as I described in a FaceTime to home :). The shrimps are grilled very simply but they are perfect–sweet, fresh, and full of their natural flavor.