A native man sang in a foreign tongue / I still ache to know the song he sung / Barcelona. – George Ezra
The streets of Barcelona – mainly the ones that barely show up on Google Maps – know me and have led me to some of the most outrageous people, some of the most choice cava, and some of my most reckless travel moments. There was a midnight in Barcelona where I biked up Tibidabo with a sex worker and poet, and an afternoon where I ended up naked borratxo on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, looking at what I swear had to be the beginnings of Africa with a guy who said he was a priest and a computer coder who slept beneath me in the hostel. There’s definitely more in the city for me to discover, and as soon as I touch foot to Catalonian earth again, I’ll go a bit deeper.
These Catalonian streets have led me to create these lists to get your trip started.
1. La Alcoba Azul:
Carrer de Sant Domenec Del Call, 14
The Caipirinhas are the second best I’ve had in the world – the first being mine – and after eating every pork-less thing on the menu, it’s important I tell you there are no bad decisions. Eat inside the restaurant if you want, but outside is much better.
2. Can Margarit:
Carrer de la Concòrdia, 21
Damn shame what I did to that rabbit. This recommendation came from Bella, my Spanish seatmate on the quick flight from Lisbon. She promised I’d love it, based on how I went on and on about the foods I loved most in the city we’d just left. We met outside the Poble Sec metro station and walked over, hands tight on our pockets, praying no one pickpocketed the money we’d need to eat.
Carrer del Comerç, 1
Traveling with a vegan is, in some cities, one of my least favorite things to do when the hunger comes. It always means we gotta look a little harder for bites. All other times, they’re fine. Especially when it comes to sharing food – they don’t touch mine. Poor Lavonda! But she was a good sport, and “I’ll find something on nay menu” became her mantra. Picnic had everything for everyone and brunch food is never ever ever a bad idea. Best thing I had: pancakes with crème fraiche and fried green tomatoes.
4. La Pepita:
Carrer de Còrsega, 343
“There’s always a line. Trust lines,” the drunk priest said. I trusted the drunk priest, shot him a WhatsApp message to see if he’d join, but when he didn’t answer, I assumed he was hugging a less-than-fancy Barcelona toilet. I walked from my hostel in Passeig de Gracia and joined the line. A party of three was at the front, so I told a few jokes and it quickly became a party of four, sitting inside, eating The Golden Pepita, Marinated Salmon, Roasted Octopus, and Roasted Artichoke with Blue Cheese. Feeling swollen as hell, we walked next door to…
5. Xurreria Trebol:
Carrer de Còrsega, 341
I’ll keep this one short: I’ve eaten churros in a million places. This place will have me buying tickets just to sniff the air it produces.
6. El Rabipaleo
Carrer del Torrent d’En Vidalet, 22
After a long day on the road, playing in random fields guarded by barbed wires and steep hills, and eating random small snacks to stay alive, we wanted something full of flavor in a place full of noise and the life we heard Barcelona is known for. We found it here in this Venezuelan watering hole. Between me, my two travelers, and the two kinda-hitchhikers we picked up, we ordered the entire menu, then ordered more. I suggest you do the same.
7. A Home-cooked Meal:
Find a Local:
If your energy, attitude, and behavior are dope, make friends who live in the city, or even outside of the city. Make sure they hold tight to their Catalonian roots and beg them to cook you a meal. Whatever it is their mama used to make. Just make sure you buy the ingredients.
One of the most beautiful things about Barcelona is its proximity to other equally beautiful cities and countrysides. Trains and busses will get you there, but if you’re brave, dope, lucky, and believe people are good, you can find a group of travelers with a car who are also headed in any direction.
QUICK DAY TRIPS:
Girona: (1:14 minutes)
The architecture that dates back millions (exaggeration) of years, the gardens, the narrow roadways, the picturesque housing along the river, and a slow bustle that’s welcomed after days in Barcelona are all reasons to make this trip happen. Check out the following: Eiffel Bridge; The Jewish Quarter; Girona Cathedral; Placa Independencia;
Sitges: (40 min)
One of my favorite places in Catalonia. The beach, the nightlife, the food, the mountains, the views, everything. Be sure to check out: Old Town; Garraf Natural Park; Passeig Maritim. And because you’re like me and believe in having a drink in every new city, stop by Casa Bacardi and learn the history of Barcadi while sipping a mojito – or whatever you drink.
Figueres: (1:44 minutes)
To be honest, I didn’t find much to do here except eat fartons, drink warm chocolates, frolic in fields just below mountains, and have my mind blown by the absolutely must-see Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, the museum of Dali’s work designed by Dali himself. Do yourself this favor.
Costa Brava: (Stay til sunset)
Catalonia’s coastal region stretches from Blanes to the border of France. This drive is perfect in warm months, stopping every so often, long enough to at least dip a toe in. Take in the breeze, passing through Alt Emporda, Baix Emporda, and Selva. Thank me later.
And when you’re full and your eyes have seen as much as they can possibly take in one day, I hope you fall in love with someone who teaches you to Flamenco in the middle of the Gothic Quarter around 2am while you’re both drunk on the cava, wondering where to find small fried fish.
WHERE I’VE SLEPT & WOULD SLEEP AGAIN:
I don’t feel the need to go into detail about how great these places are individually. In each of them, I’ve made new friends, made travel partners I vibe well with, drank plenty of beer and tequila, and solidified my belief that most people are good. Each of these places were located in extremely safe areas and each were in walking distance to everything I wanted to see (I also love to walk, so everything is walking distance to me). I recommend each of these places, but only if your energy and vibe are as dope as the true travelers I know.
Safestay Passeig de Gracia
Passeig de Gràcia, 33
The Hipstel Parallel
Carrer Salva, 36
St. Christopher’s Barcelona
Carrer de Bergara, 3
Carrer de Corsega, 373
It’s no secret that I love traveling on a tight budget, meeting new people and sharing plates and stories with them. And Couchsurfing has been the perfect way to do just that. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers who welcome other travelers into their space because that is what we need to do to open up the world!
Enjoy Barcelona. Let me know if this list helped you at all.