Hola, everyone! I’m back from Spain, jet-lag and all. Recall that two weekends ago Jackie and I embarked on our journey east to meet up with Pam in Spain! After two short but fabulous nights in Madrid, we traveled 3 hours south by train to the coast – Barcelona – for five more nights, where we met up with Pam’s boyfriend Reinhardt. It was a fantastic trip – Spain really did live up to the hype!
I’ve never been one for sitting down and reviewing the hundreds of travel photos of my friends’ vacations, so I don’t want to subject O-HI-30 readers to that either. But since O-HI-30 is about the “Adventures of a Midwestern 30-Something”, it’s only fitting that I share some of my overseas adventures! To give you a “Sensi” of our trip (my favorite restaurant!), I’ll share some of the week’s highlights, in no particular order:
Wine, mojitos, tapas, gelato…there was no shortage of excellent food & drink on our trip! Both were surprisingly reasonably priced, and we indulged in all of it. Wine was regularly ~$4/glass, and even our most indulgent of dinners was less than $40/person. We ate tapas style for almost every meal, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Tapas = more tastes. We also found ourselves falling into a rhythm of multiple drinks per day – wine with lunch, mojitos at cocktail hour, more wine with dinner…what can I say, we were on vacation!
My favorite meal of the trip was at a restaurant called Sensi – a tiny, cozy tapas restaurant that our bike tour guide told us about. I plan on devoting an entire post to that meal, so in the meantime I’ll share a few other photos to give you a taste of Spain, O-HI-30 style!
One day in the late afternoon we needed a small lunch, so we stopped by a place that served crostini by the stick! At the end of your meal, you simply count the number of “sticks” consumed to pay your bill! Fun.
And, of course, there was lots of gelato consumed! (Although I easily could have consumed more). A creature of habit, I stuck with my go-to combination of dark chocolate and hazelnut every time! So. Good.
Prior to the trip I was told that Spain has great shopping, and it did not disappoint! Believe it or not, I’m actually not typically a huge shopper when traveling – it always feels rushed, like I should be doing something else, or that it’s too expensive. But this trip was different! On our first and only full day in Madrid, we headed out for some sight-seeing and quickly stumbled upon a fabulous street of shops. Three hours later, we emerged! We didn’t do quite as much shopping in Barcelona, but I still managed to buy two unique rings there. Just like the food & drink, prices were extremely reasonable. For example, I got a fabulous pair of light brown booties for $30! Ladies + Shopping = Muy Bueno!
Don’t worry – I’m not talking triathlon biking. I’m talking tour biking! On our first full day in Barcelona we took a Fat Tire bike tour – highly recommended! Jackie, Nash, and I did a Fat Tire bike tour when in Paris a few years ago, so I knew I wanted to do it again in Barcelona. The tour was a leisurely four hours, with stops at interesting spots, beers, and food (not included in the price, however). It was a great way to learn about the history and get our bearings in the city.
And our tour guide (Hi, Bill!) gave us the inside scoop on the best bars and restaurants, which brings me to…
Every evening, we walked the 20+ minutes to the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) neighborhood to partake in its hip and grungy scene. The bars were largely dark and a bit on the dirty side, but they were fabulous! We went to one bar twice – the first time, at 9 PM before dinner, when it was empty. The second time was at 1 AM after dinner and before the club – and it was so packed we couldn’t move! Both times I had a chili mojito, and HOT DAMN was it spicy! So good!
And yes, we did go to a club! Although I was extremely intimidated by the 2 AM and later “normal” club hours, we managed to build ourselves up and went to an outdoor club about 10 minutes from the city. It wasn’t the greatest of clubs, but we had a good time dancing like maniacs and staying out til 4 AM. And most importantly, now I can say I’ve been clubbing in Spain 🙂
On our second full day in Barcelona, we took a siesta from site-seeing and spent the day on the beach. We traveled ~30 min by train to Sitges, a quiet-ish beach town just west of Barcelona. It was just what we – I – needed (I was pretty hungover – too much red wine the night before!). Lots of relaxing, some sun (it was cloudy early in the day), and a great beachside dinner that felt more like Key West than Barcelona. I even treated myself to a 15-minute back massage on the beach!
This post wouldn’t be complete without mention of the opposite sex! Let’s just say, Spanish men are “Muy Guapo”. Check out this gym-in-the-park we stumbled upon in Madrid. We may have taken a “break” on a park bench for quite some time…and snapped some not-so-discreet photos…
Although it wasn’t exactly a highlight of the trip, the Bullfight we attended in Madrid was most definitely an experience. Bullfighting is banned in Barcelona due to it’s gruesome nature, but it’s still legal in Madrid and a part of the culture we wanted to witness…or so we thought! We lasted for about half of the bulls (yes, they kill multiple bulls per fight) before calling it quits. Of course, as a meat eater I’m aware that animals get killed on my stomach’s behalf every second, but seeing it made into a sport was not pleasant. A bunch of men against one bull, a blindfolded horse that gets rammed by the bull, and the final stabbing of the bleeding bull was just too much for us American girls. I’m glad I went, and I won’t be back!
So there ya have it! Eight days in Spain in one O-HI-30 post! Regular posting will commence shortly.
Have you ever been to Spain? What was your favorite experience?