To celebrate my 29th birthday this year, we took a weekend trip to Barcelona. It was a pretty spontaneous decision, booking the tickets only a few weeks out! But, we saw a good deal and it was a worthy occasion to knock a city off our travel bucket list... so, off we went! With only a few days set aside to explore one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world, we decided to stay within the gothic quarter, limiting our exploration to a smaller area than the full city.
After flying in, we caught a metro train to the city centre and then made our way on foot to our hotel. Spaniards tend to eat dinner late into the evening, so even though it was past 9pm, it was the perfect time to pop out for an authentic seafood paella meal! It was supplemented perfectly with a few traditional Spanish tapas too, including our favorite, chorizo sausages. We were well and truly exhausted by this point, so we called it a night.
We woke up to a beautiful sunny day; a warm breeze blew in through the balcony doors, which directly overlooked an open-air art market. It was the perfect start to my birthday! We set off for breakfast and coffee at a cosy cafe, Elsa y Fred. From there, we explored the Arc de Triumph and made our way down to the beach promenade. We were generous with our stops along the way too, visiting wine bars tucked away along the narrow cobbled paths. After enjoying the ocean views and sunshine, we spent the remainder of the afternoon sampling tapas and wine at several restaurants along the coast. It was difficult to choose our favorite plate, between the chorizo or padrón peppers! It's worth mentioning, it was at Restaurante Agua where we had the single most delicious strawberry piña colodas of our lifetimes. That drink alone will be worth a trip back!
As we explored more of the impressive architecture, we stumbled upon some Roman structures! This was promptly set aside as a priority to explore the next day.
Finally, it was time to refresh in our room (and take and impromptu - and rather tipsy - balcony photoshoot) to get ready for the big birthday night out. On the recommendation of our hotel manager, we started in the lively square of Plaça Reial, which was a beautiful courtyard of bars and restaurants encircling a grand fountain. We found a table at Ocaña, where we were greeted with two extremely glamorous drag queens - a fantastic sign for a good night if there ever was one! We settled in with potato alioli, drinks and such engaging conversation that we didn't even notice the time flying by! Before we knew it, it was past 1am! Over the course of that evening, we had managed to go through 8 expresso martinis (4 EACH!!) and were pulsing with so much caffeine that we knew dancing was our only option. Fortunately, the bar also had a nightclub in the basement, so we made our way downstairs and danced off our energy - quite literally until they kicked us out!
Given the late night, we were actually a little surprised to not wake up feeling more fragile than we did! As our last day in Barcelona, we pulled ourselves together, and this time headed off to the very popular Milk cafe for breakfast. We stopped to see the Cathedral and more of the Roman ruins we'd glimpsed the day before - we even saw some original Roman columns leftover from the first century BC!
After a quick break for some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, we finished up with a walk along the famous street "La Rambla," which was bustling full of tourists, street performers and vendors. With one final tapas stop, it was time to collect our bags and head back to the airport.
We are so grateful that we were able to sneak this spontaneous trip in when we did, as only a few weeks later all travel screeched to a halt due to the global pandemic. We were so lucky to make these memories while we still could!