The dream of the 90s may very well be alive in Portland, but it’s also alive in Barcelona, at least to me.
For reasons unknown, my first feelings of Barcelona was that it was like stepping back into the 90s. Maybe it was the fashion, the way the sun hit the buildings, the yellowed paper signs on the door of the cafe, or the outdated but comforting feel of the subways. Whatever it was, it was awesome. I loved Barcelona. It was also very nice being able to use Spanish rather than French or Italian. I’m used to Spanish and I definitely butchered the French and Italian languages. Sorry guys.
My favourite thing in Barcelona by far was the cafe nearby our hotel called Forn de Pa El Surtidor. It’s a small bakery popular among people who live in the neighbourhood, run by two older Spanish men. Firstly, I loved the atmosphere. This is one of the main things that reminded me of the 90s. It was just a classic bakery and the owners were so friendly and gave us a different cookie or pastry every morning with our americanos for free. They also had amazing tortas de aceite, which they actually sell at Kowalski’s back in the great land of Minnesota. It’s all about the small things in life, isn’t it?
La Boqueria market was amazing. This used to be a market where locals would buy their fresh food every week, and it still is, but only to some extent. Alas, the tourists have taken it over, but that doesn’t stop how fantastic it is. Exploring the entire market was one of my favourite things in Barcelona. We tried everything from burritos, to chocolate, to prosciutto and cheese sandwiches, to mango coconut juice. It like the Minnesota state fair but all food, and sorry, it was so much better.
The amazing food didn’t stop there. Paella was next. (note: not pay-ella, the L’s are silent. like papaya but without the second p). We found a restaurant on tripadvisor and searched around for two hours looking for it. We were somehow looking at two different directions, but eventually we found the correct one on google maps and the second we got there the phone died. I am not joking. We were starving, which was a good thing because paella could probably feed three people. We treated ourselves to champagne and wine, ordered the meat paella, and ate almost the whole thing. It was a beautiful moment.
A few more notes on food, tapas. Everywhere. All day. Every day. We ate jamón serrano (spanish cured ham. the pigs are fed acorns so it tastes a bit different), patatas bravas (fried potato served with garlic mayonnaise) quail eggs on toast, spanish flatbread with tomato and olive oil, and more that I’m blanking on. Tapas are life. Also, empanadas and Estrella beer. Yum.
Something that would be great for an all-day adventure/picnic is Park Güell, one of the major works of Gaudi. You have to pay entry for some parts of the park, but we stuck to the free section and it was still beautiful. It reminded me of disneyland or really just felt like we could have been in California.
One morning we went to the Picasso Museum. What’s better than the Picasso museum? The Picasso Museum doing an exhibit featuring Salvador Dalí paintings! To our surprise, this was happening. It was a dream. They compared both Picasso and Dalí paintings and I never realised how similar they are, besides looking at them and thinking ‘I don’t know what this is, but I love it.’
One of the best parts of Barcelona is the beach. The water was cold, but there was still a lot to do! We went to a restaurant and enjoyed (frankly overpriced, but oh well) sangria and wine, we walked around with people cycling, running, rollerblading, walking dogs, and using the outdoor gym. We walked along the beach and after finding a small bobber in the sand, I exclaimed how good I was at finding things, when all of a sudden a pole with a flag and a buoy attached to it came out of nowhere. When the wave came in, I ran in and grabbed it. Her name was Esther. It was a nice moment.
Anyway, Barcelona, 10/10 recommend.