Feels like home to me

I was lucky enough to have a friend visiting this past weekend so I had the perfect excuse to not travel. There is nothing better than being in your own city. As much as I love all of the trips that I take, it’s so nice to sit back and relax once and a while and enjoy all the amazing things to do in Barcelona.

Here are some recommendations of a few of my favorite places to eat, drink, see, and shop.

11013304_10152655536391451_1302699970131770375_nFood Coma: If you are looking for a yummy breakfast, Milk has delicious eggs Florentine! 10492582_10152655536431451_1510510191979502131_nIt’s a small place so make sure to give yourself a little bit of time incase the place is at full capacity when you plan on eating. Brunch & Cake is another “must.” They also have a sister restaurant with the exact same menu a few blocks away called Travel & Cake which seems to not be as popular for some reason but I still can’t understand why when they serve the same food. If you are looking for something a little more quant, Mama’s Café is a cute place in Gracia that serves brunch all day long. So if you sleep in late and are looking for somewhere yummy to eat, my advice is getting to Gracia. Be My Bagel is a little bagel shop that has different toppings you can add like eggs, cream cheese, salmon it’s also in Gracia but I would only go there if you are craving a breakfast sandwich or need something that’s a bit faster.

10906083_10152582303666451_8322476539555078907_nFor lunch, I once went to a cute place Elsa y Fred that was a little hard to find but was worth the hunt. If you make it there, check out the tuna tar tar, it has almost a raspberry taste-YUM! Bo de B is another “must go” but I never really was able to understand why…if you ask me it’s super overrated. Flax & Kale is a little bit more on the healthy side but there salmon sliders are pretty good and I personally loved the pink buns that they came on. Still on the healthy side, Quinoa Bar is located in Gracia and is a small place but great if you need something light to eat, and don’t let the name confuse you…they have more than just quinoa.

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Dinner is my favorite meal of the day, so I am saving the best for last. La Luna is a romantic delicious restaurant in the Gothic area and I suggest you try the salmon carpaccio, goat cheese salad, nachos, and ravioli with spinach. I went two times this week if that can convince anyone to go. Da Greco is another “must.” This Italian restaurant is fine dining and offers you a taste of every pasta dish that each person you go with has. You will be falling off your chair with a food baby by the time you leave. I can’t even recommend anything in specific because every single thing is exquisite. However, if you are not a truffle lover try to stay clear of those dishes because they are really heavy and strong. Café Camelia is a cute café that turns into a restaurant only Thursday-Saturday. So if you have a weekend free and are willing to go to Gracia, get the quinoa burger and goat cheese salad. A Gianni is another Italian restaurant that I go to at least once a week. It’s a nice place to order a glass of wine, have some risotto and call it a night. If you are looking for fresh sushi, Monster Sushi is a little bit pricey but will most likely have what you are looking for. My favorite tapas bar is Timeline. Make sure to ask for extra cheese if you get the nachos, the waiter will most likely smile at you and know that I recommended you to go.

10928190_10152606870836451_7577801331898434741_nPlaces to Pregame: I’ve learned since I’ve been here that “pregaming” is an American term and places in Europe not only do not do this in their homes but they think we are crazy for thinking that is acceptable. After most students studying abroad here were threatened to get evicted from their apartments, people started to discover places outside of their homes to pregame before heading to nightclubs. Pippermint is one of the most popular; they serve extremely large drinks, which is great for girls who always love to share. Chupitos is a very interesting shot bar that offers so many varieties of fun shots that all have very sugary tastes, some of which light on fire. Shôko sometimes offers free sushi dinners if anyone likes sushi, furthermore a lot of people like going here to pregame because it’s right on the beach and a five step walk to Opium. Dow Jones is another place, one of which I haven’t had the chance to go to yet but I heard that their shot prices fluctuate depending on how the stock market is doing…pretty cool if you ask me.

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Party: But what to do with yourself after you pregame? Even though pregaming starts at a ridiculous time here in Barcelona, that still gives you no excuse to call it a night. Barcelona is known for its insane nightlife, some of which I’ve had the chance to go to since I’ve been here. I went to the bar/lounge in the W hotel; Eclipse for the first time this past weekend when I was staying there. It’s a very cool atmosphere-definitely a little bit of an older, more sophisticated crowd. Its on the 26th floor of the building and offers a panoramic view of the city. If you are more interested in being on the beach lower down, Opium, Pacha, and CDLC is the perfect spot. Sutton and Bling Bling are not on the beach but in a great location, which is the upper area on Carrer Tuset. Otto Zutz is a fun place that is not far from Gracia, which is great for those who are in walking distance.

Shop till you drop: If you take the metro to Jaume 1 you will be right outside of the Gothic area. This area consists of a church as your center marker and they have so many cute boutiques and stores in this neighborhood. Sometimes I just walk around and window-shop and get a delicious nutella crepe at one of the gelato places. If you are looking for something a little more upscale, Passeig de Gracia is almost like 5th avenue in New York City. It’s a huge street of high-end stores and is a beautiful place to walk around even if you aren’t planning on buying anything. Gracia also has more authentic Spanish shopping if you are looking for something funky. My favorite store is on Verdi Street, Clink. Make sure to check it out if you have any free time.

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Activities: As you know, Catalans love their football. If you are visiting Barcelona I highly suggest checking out the game schedule and seeing a Barca game. Just make sure to get some drinks before you go into the stadium because they do not serve alcohol in there. Las Ramblas is another place that is always popping throughout all hours of the day. Watch your belongings because it’s a little bit of a tourist trap. On Las Ramblas you will see a market called “La Boqueria.” It is a huge food market that has delicious fresh fruit, meat, fish, candy and could be a great place to pick up for lunch.

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The Port is also a very beautiful area. It is not far from the beach and just walking along the “boardwalk” is relaxing. I recently visited the Aquarium, which is in that same region. If you have some extra time it’s a good place to see some beautiful ocean creatures. Last but certainly not least, Gaudí’s works of art are all around the city. Park Güell, La Segrada Família, La Pedrera, and Casa Batlló are all exquisite Spanish sites.

Hopefully this gives you a little peak inside my everyday life and some recommendations if you ever get the chance to come to this amazing city!

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Fam Squad

Having my family in Barcelona over this past week made Spain feel a little more like home. I was able to take them to all my favorite places. It was also nice to go to a lot of new places that I haven’t had the opportunity to go to yet. Some of those places included a wine vineyard, Montjuïc, The W Hotel, and some restaurants like Monster Sushi, La Luna, Cerveceria Catalana, Eyecream & Friends, and CDLC.

Thursday after I finished my last midterm, I met my family at the W hotel on the beach. It was a relaxing way to celebrate the end of my exams with drinks and a beautiful day. Afterwards, we walked along the beach and stopped at an ice cream place that I have wanted to go to for a while now. Eyecream & Friends is a really clever idea. They have you a pick a flavor of ice cream and two toppings. They add two eyeballs on your ice cream scoop to give your ice cream more character. We sat on a bench enjoying our snack and watched all the pedestrians walking along the street.

Friday morning we took a train from Barcelona to Vilafranca del penedes. This was about an hour south from the city. We arrived in the wine region where we spent the entire morning touring the Parés Baltà vineyard and learning more about cava, the Spanish wine. The only other winery I have been to was in Israel last summer, which did not even compare to this one. Our guide, Jemma did a great job showing us around the vineyard and educating us more on the process. After testing about ten of the wines, my whole family was practically on the floor. It was an exciting activity that I enjoyed a lot because I don’t have the chance to do that everyday.

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We were able to take the cable cars up to the top of Montjuïc on Saturday and strolled around the castle for a good hour. There was a view of the port and you could even spot the W hotel from all the way up there. We didn’t end up going into the castle but it was still worthwhile to take the ride up just to capture the scenery. However, it is definitely not a “must do” if you are just visiting the city for just a short amount of time.

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Not only did we do new things but also I was so happy to take my family to my favorite shops and restaurants. My mom and sister loved the Gracia area of Barcelona just as much as I do. We shopped around during the evenings from 7-8:00 pm when all the street venders are out and there is a lot of action going on in the streets. I took them to my favorite boutique “Clink” across from my apartment on Verdi. They sell women’s clothing and accessories. I also took my family to the Gothic area where they have a candy place “Happy Pills” that I know my sister wanted to go to. It’s a cute shop that organizes the candy by color. They give you a pill bottle in various sizes that you stuff with candy. Then they stick on labels with cute sayings. My sister got a bottle that said “Sweet Kisses from Barcelona.” It’s a great souvenir that you can keep for medications after you finish the candy.

By the time Sunday came around, it was time for my family to fly back to the States. I had such a great time showing them around my city and enjoying this incredible experience with them.

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