Fresh off the plane from Bolivia, we found ourselves in Barcelona. As well as being tourists, we had plans to eat, drink, eat some more, watch the World Cup and also celebrate my birthday.
Out and About in Barcelona
The first time we wandered down La Rambla, we had a bit of culture shock after our 7 months in South America. There were so many people. And they all looked fashionable. And were loud. And just, different. We were excited (to be in a new country) and sad (to not be in South America anymore) all at the same time.
As crowded as the main streets were, we found that if you walked into the side streets for a while, suddenly there was only a few locals pottering about and some amazing looking buildings.
I had no idea just a few weeks ago that I would turn 37 in Barcelona. And at my age, I never imagined that my birthday celebrations would end on a beach, on the other side of town, at 11am the next morning – but that’s exactly what happened!
Maybe it was one last hurrah, but we’d been watching the football at our hotel when we decided to hit the town for Australia’s opening World Cup game vs Chile. Heading into town on the excellent metro system (runs 24/7 on weekends – imagine that!) we soon found ourselves cheering on the Socceroos at midnight in an Irish bar in Barcelona. The pub had a good atmosphere as there was another Australian couple and some Chilean fans watching the game. Sadly it wasn’t Australia’s night.
Dancing the night away
Feeling deflated after the Australian defeat, we wandered off at 2am, not in search of the metro home but somewhere to drown our (my) sorrows. Kristen had read about a club close by called Magic, which played age-appropriate music for those in the later stages of their 30s. We found it easily and once inside, had a ball! It was one good song after another, plus a great crowd (again age-appropriate) which made for a fantastic time.
We were having so much fun that we were disappointed when the music stopped and it was time to go home. We walked out of the club and at first couldn’t see, it was so bright. The sun was shining and the sky was blue – apparently it was 7am in the morning! We didn’t even know clubs went that late. Or early, as the case may be.
We weren’t ready to go home, and after speaking to a few locals we’d been dancing with, we all agreed that what we needed was a swim. We found a bakery and stocked up (a birthday muffin for me and beers for everyone else) and then we set off for the beach. It was a beautiful morning. Kristen swam while I slowly lost energy, and when we finally said our farewells, it was getting close to lunchtime. What a night!
We spent the rest of the afternoon hung over and tired, but were thankful we were staying in a great area of Barcelona just near the beach (Poblenou). A swim in the cold water put us right until it was an appropriate time for us to finally get some sleep.
When we visited: mid-June 2014
How we got here: Flight from Bolivia
Where we stayed: Travelodge Barcelona Poblenou. I highly recommend booking.com, especially for last-minute hotel bookings. We booked our Barcelona accommodation last minute and got a great deal for a hotel room, which ended up being even cheaper than the hostels in town. The catch was that we’d be staying in a beach suburb just outside of central Barcelona, called Poblenou. We loved it! The hotel was one block from the metro, so it was easy to get anywhere in Barcelona in just 3- 5 stops. And being near the beach meant we could relax in the afternoon/evenings after a long day of sight-seeing, before either heading back into town or staying local for dinner.
Food & Drink recommendations:
We didn’t try nearly as much as we could have (as we were travelling on a budget and Barcelona is expensive for budget travellers), but we certainly made a good effort to enjoy the Catalan cuisine.
We had some great picnics in the park.
We spent time at the old-fashioned El Xampanyet, sampling their tapas and fizzy cava.
Cafe Orio was our go-to restaurant for plates of pintxos. It was touristy but oh so good! And it’s suprising how full you can get from novelty-sized food held together by a toothpick.
Closer to our hotel was the excellent Timesburg. This burger joint was seriously awesome (and affordable) so we visited a number of times.
After the food and drink restrictions of Bolivia, and the more limited eating out options in South American, everything tasted amazing and we couldn’t get enough.
Other Tips: The metro in Barcelona is amazing. You don’t need to take the tourist bus. Just get yourself a map, and walk or take the metro around town. Just as quick and a lot cheaper!