Old Souls in Barcelona

Xavi's Airbnb kitchen in Barcelona on Carrer Gran de Gracia

Jamming the three days we were in Barcelona into one post. Here we go.

After receiving such a warm welcome from our cute Airbnb couple, I woke up (I’ve been the last to sleep and first to wake up, which means my body clearly values the few hours I do get and yet does not value the normal number of hours people should get) and walked to the kitchen.

Fresh air and sunlight flowed in through the balcony doors, creating what I would call a perfect morning. So I sat at the table with my laptop (not without Snapchatting, of course) and enjoyed the morning of solitude.

Then the adventure began. Of course, our first meal had to be tapas. Ravenous, we stuffed ourselves with Spanish omelettes, potatos bravas, mushrooms, and other yummy goodness.

During this meal, I also made an unfortunate realization that has made me rescind my earlier praise of Foursquare: its recent update has made the app essentially useless without WiFi. Details of any place are no longer saved for offline use. Not sure if this was an oversight or done purposefully, but the rest of the time in Barcelona was spent asking for directions—yeah, the old-fashioned way. Gasp, what is human interaction.

Anyway, as a result, we somehow walked right past our intended destination of Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Battlo and ended up heading toward the city center at Placa de Catalunya and then the Arc de Triomf.

Selfie in front of Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
Selfie in front of Arc de Triomf.

With some time, we made a quick WiFi pitstop at Cappuccino, where we had disappointing croissants and average iced cappuccinos. But the fun really began when we made our way to the cooking class, where we got a tour of Mercat de Sant Josep, or La Boqueria, before making an actual four-course meal. Paella takes a crazy amount of time and effort to make well! But man, by the end of it, we felt stuffed but so, so satisfied. If you ever find yourself in a city known for great food, please consider taking a cooking or even baking class. You won’t regret it.

And as we immediately noticed, the group tends to be a lot friendlier than, say, that of a beer tour. We were the two youngest students in a class of middle-aged or elderly couples. #oldsouls

The next day, our “youthful” adventures continued with a bunch of cultural explorations, starting with Parc Guell, where I naturally took the opportunity to take selfies of myself atop the hills overlooking beautiful Barcelona. If we had known that this park would be great for hiking, I would have totally prepared better. Instead, my friend, whose feet were hurting, waited as I quickly made my way a little higher up to be pleasantly surprised at the views of the city. Another oversight: We didn’t know that Gaudi’s freakin’ magnum opus and burial place was Sagrada Família, so we—tired and hungry—decided to SKIP it to go to a popular tapas restaurant that didn’t even open for another 45 minutes by the time we got there. What a sad mistake. We also apparently didn’t order correctly because the tapas didn’t impress us nearly as much as the restaurant from the day before or as it did for the raving Foursquare reviewers. Research, folks. Important.

At least this time we found Casa Battlo, another one of Gaudi’s works. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, I would recommend paying the 21.50 euro entrance fee (I got away with the 18.5 euro student fee 😉 ). Each visitor is given a smartphone-size device and headphones to go on your own tour. The weird, confusing thing was that the device also featured augmented and virtual reality, which was cool—don’t get me wrong—but it also meant all of the cool furnishings on your device didn’t actually exist in the house. Yeah. What? Were we just looking at how cool this shell of a house could have been with more stuff? Not only that, but the house also reminded me of Disney. In fact, I even had the thought that Disney could build the same thing and even better (real furnishings, for example). Anyway, despite how unappealing I may be making this sound, the VR used is worth taking a look. Otherwise, the front exterior (the back, which you see on the tour, is nothing to rave about in comparison) seems to be the most recognizable and Instagram-worthy photo in this Disney-like, shell of a house that uses VR to make up for the lack of any real furnishings.

After resting back in the Airbnb, we headed out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant, because according to Foursquare, seafood and Asian food here in Barcelona is surprisingly popular and good.

Of course, we had to go and get dessert afterward. What better dessert than the city’s staple of churros with hot chocolate?

On our last day, we finally made our way to the beach before returning to a bakery that our cooking class chef told us had great pastries made by nuns. Who knew honey drizzled over toast with melted cheese would taste so amazing?

We made our way back to the Airbnb for a late checkout but what ended up being a way-too-early arrival at the airport, where we spent several hours waiting…and waiting. The D and E gates, by the way, are so sparse and boring. Soon enough, we found ourselves at the Marrakech airport.

And as I mentioned in the post I wrote the morning after, we certainly were in for a culture shock. But more on that later 😉