For Reading Week, my best friend Kendall and I decided to break out from the busy London lifestyle to find a little sunshine in Europe. We had both chatted before about wanting to go to Spain, and this seemed like the absolute perfect time! We booked our tickets and left from London Gatwick Airport early Friday morning to embark on our Reading Week adventure.
We checked in to our darling Airbnb that was nestled perfectly into the Gothic Quarter a few hours later, unpacked a bit, and left to explore on our way to the first item on our five-page google doc itinerary: The Picasso Museum. We couldn’t take pictures in the museum, but here’s me re-enacting how we felt as we took our audio tour through the gallery.
After we wandered through rooms and rooms of my most favorite artist’s work, we did the thing. We had paella for the first time in Spain. And let me tell you – it was a magical experience. We, of course, opted for a pitcher of sangria and had the best night sitting and eating in the Plaza Real, listening to the hustle and bustle of the Spanish city around us. We were ready.
Sunday morning we woke up determined to speak as much Spanish as possible and see as many things as we could! We got ready and ran down the street for a quick brunch at Milk before heading into the city to get a feel for the layout. I feel like this was the smartest decision we made in Barcelona because WE FOUND THE BEACH! Y’all, it was instant. We did not know where we were and we somehow walked straight into Barcelonita and found the beach. So we snapped a few pictures and decided to walk for another hour to La Sagrada Familia. This cathedral was astounding. There were amazing stain glass windows that filled the bright interior with all the colors of the rainbow – the moment you walk in, your eyes are drawn to the color beaming in from the windows. Words cannot explain! Here are some pictures.
After La Sagrada Familia, we grabbed a taxi back to our flat so we could get ready for the next activity. Three words: rooftop sunset cocktails. We dressed as nicely as we could for the fancy hotel we were about to show up at and journeyed down Las Ramblas (arguably the most tourist-y street in Barcelona) to watch the sunset from eight floors up. We sneakily received a real menu from our waiter and ended up snagging some dinner too. It was a good time, and one of my favorite things we did!
Monday morning, Kendall and I woke up with a plan. We needed to find bikes, ASAP. This morning was for biking down the beach and up to a secret garden – more on that in a minute. I grabbed a juice and Kendall picked up some bakery items and we were off to Ajo Bike – a place we had found online the night before with €10 all day rentals. The man at the shop was cheeky and set us up quickly. Before we knew it, we were whizzing through Barcelona! I didn’t believe this until I tried it, but honestly, biking was the best way to see Barcelona. It is very safe and so easy to find a place to rent from.
Next was cooking paella in a secret garden. Cool, right? That was one of the most exciting aspects of our holiday – the Airbnb experiences! I am planning on making a post dedicated to my use of Airbnb experiences, but for now, here are some little details. We booked this experience a week or two before our trip and we were so glad we did. A very kind woman named Sara taught us and the rest of our group how to make her family’s paella. You better believe I kept the recipe for when I get home (and can track down a paella pan)!
After we stuffed ourselves with paella, we visited Park Guell. It was a quick stop before heading back to the Gothic Quarter, but we had heard so much about the beauty of Gaudi’s work that we had to see it. We were not disappointed! Definitely a must-see in Barcelona, but any travel book or website will tell you that!
Tuesday morning we hustled to the Barcelona Sants train station and hopped on a train to Garraf for our second Airbnb experience – a day full of yoga and hiking. Again, more details on this later! It was so fun getting to practice yoga with such a good friend as well as a new friend. The woman leading us that day, Alesha, was so amazing! Even on the crazy hike to the top of a peak in Garraf, she would hold my hand and guide me up the steep parts, because I am a scaredy cat. Anyways, she was great, it was great, here are some pictures!
By the time we were home, we had our siestas and returned to the restaurant we visited the first night in Plaza Real for more paella. That’s right, folks – paella every day for three days. I’m proud. We were planning on heading out to this neat Dow Jones bar a friend had recommended to us, but after our fit fab fun day, we decided to stay in and pack up for Portugal seeing that it was our last full day.
Wednesday was a travel day, but we had the morning to ourselves in Barcelona before leaving to the airport. We were definitely sad to leave – we had gotten used to practicing our Spanish with restaurant staff and shop owners. We knew in our next stop we wouldn’t have that luxury! So we walked around the Gothic Quarter a bit and said our goodbyes to our new favorite city. On to Portugal!
My five days in Barcelona went by too fast. I had such an amazing time here that I absolutely have to find a way to get back. Spanish culture is so vibrant and friendly. And, a fun fact: the SUN comes out in Spain! After living in London for a bit, you tend to forget that kind of thing! London is amazing to me and provides such a great springboard for me in the future. But hey, if you all of the sudden can’t find me, I’ve hopped on a flight to Barcelona. Promise.
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