After nine total hours of travel from London to Barcelona, friends and I emerged from the metro in the neighborhood where our Air BnB rental was supposedly located, to find this empanada stand staring us in the face. Fitting, no?
The effects of hours of artificially air-conditioned, fluorescent-lit air travel (and bus travel and train travel) suddenly started to melt away as I considered our oh-so-Spanish surroundings.
I had hoped authenticity would be the theme of the weekend, with me and my fellow travelers ducking into quaint cafés (like the one pictured below) for breakfast in the morning and tapas restaurants in the evening. By morning, I mean noon, and by evening, I mean 10 p.m. Lesson learned: Do as the [Spaniards] do.
For the most part, it was an authentic 72 hours, and apart from a serious mistake of a meal at a nearby Thai restaurant, we ate like (Spanish) queens.
Memorable food moments included:
1. The cheese / fig / walnut / honey plate (below) from a tucked-away tapas restaurant, where we also enjoyed (not pictured) Galician octopus, a seasonal fruit and mozzarella salad, potatas bravas with two dipping sauces, and — wait for it — veal / squid meatballs. They sound disgusting, tasted amazing. I promise.
2. The freshest falafel I ever did eat from a Middle Eastern restaurant we happened to duck into one afternoon. Under the tented ceiling we enjoyed these little guys (still sizzling from the fryer) alongside some olive-oil-laden hummus, followed by a chicken and veggie tagine studded with slivered almonds and plump raisins.
3. A balanced brunch at the brand new and beautiful eatery, Flax & Kale, which offers fresh pressed juices, superfood-packed smoothies, and a whole lot of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options. Not quite typical Spanish fare, but a welcome break from the heavier meals we’d enjoyed earlier in the weekend.
I opted for this coconut milk yogurt parfait, while friends tried the acaí bowl, eggs benedict, and gluten-free banana chocolate chip bread. The setting might have been even more impressive than the food, though. The space was designed in light wood, with brightly patterned fabrics lining the furniture, and enough glass to let the natural midday light seep in and steal the show.
Of course the purpose of all this nourishment was to fuel some serious touring. We managed to get to La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the Picasso Museum, La Boqueria, El Raval, and the beach.
Worn out from walking, we’d periodically return to our Air BnB oasis in the city’s quieter Grácia neighborhood. See the view from / of our very own terrace, below.
I was undeniably beat from the Barcelona lifestyle, as my usual bedtime clocks in about five hours earlier than the Spaniards’. I consequently collapsed in bed each night, fast asleep in mere seconds with a happy belly, achy, walked-out legs, and a whole lot of beautiful sights to dream about.
‘Til next time, Barcelona…Adios!