Barcelona

Barcelona was incredible.

This was my best weekend abroad so far. I shared an apartment  using Airbnb, a company that connects homeowners to travelers, with two friends in the heart of Barcelona. The apartment had colorful tiled floor and funky modern decor, including a retro painting of Marilyn Monroe. Our  apartment’s owner was  young man who was extremely nice and full of advice. It was great to have an immediate connection with a local Barcelonian who knew the area. I also  felt like we  belonged to the city by the end of our stay because we quickly became acquainted with the never failing routine of the  neighbors’ dogs  barking at us as we made our daily climb up  the towering flight of stairs to our apartment. This staircase could have equated to at least level 12 of the stair master at my gym back in the states. (just saying, our calves should be sponsored by Nike asap)But it’s the little things like this that make you feel at home that a hotel can’t offer.

Best moments:

seeing Gaudi architecture; his work must be witnessed in person. The buildings are completely bizarre ! Parc Guell also has one of the best views of Barcelona .

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eating tapas; if you know me at all, I am terrible at making decisions when it comings to ordering food at restaurants. Tapas is the solution to my misery.

The best tapas I had were at Sensi Tapas, I split with a friend Baby chorizo sausage braised in beer (Really good sauce to dip bread in),Duck timbale with potatoes parmesan (that was my favorite one), Iberian pork tataki (rare cooked pork), and Sauteed “Sant Pau” white beans with squid.

I also had a really really really good glass of sangria there too.

http://www.sensi.es/tapas/

Walking everywhere and anywhere: my legs were killing me after this trip, but basically no matter which way you turn in Barcelona there is always something to see if you simply take a walk.

I think the key to getting to know city is getting lost with good friends at hand. We had a great time being at the beach at sunset, just taking our time strolling through the parks, and watching the “Magic” fountain light show at night. We also randomly bumped into a cafe with the world’s best hot chocolate. This redefined my perception of a cup of hot chocolate. (good bye instant swiss miss)

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La Boqueria: this is large open market that holds everything your arteries could and sometimes shouldn’t desire. There are stalls full of sweet chocolates and candies, rows of fresh fish with gaping mouths and wide eyes, shelves of fruit where you can buy a plate of freshly cut coconut or figs or even dragon fruit, and stalls of huge pork legs, rabbit, sausages, and chicken all waiting to be grilled. There are also colorful hot peppers, homemade sauces, and jams.  This is a must see and eat. I hope to go back to Barcelona to cook.

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Shopping: Zara for extremely good prices. La Rambla (street) for those lovely souvenir vendors who won’t fail to bargain the hell out of you, and also for the street performers, local artists, people watching, street food, and even Christmas lights at night. (there are already twinkling lights up and down the trees and streets) . Local shops, there was this tiny shop with imported Italian masks that brought you right into a Phantom of the Opera fantasy. There was also another store of hundreds of handmade leather flats  in all sorts of colors and shapes for women. I also had my first churro from a tiny shop dedicated to this delicacy.

Most of all I just enjoyed getting to know and laugh with my friends who traveled with me .

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