Best Bars in Barcelona

I started writing this post before the news of the attack. To target tourists, and a beautiful city, is horrible. But it should never put people off from having fun in this city – not that I think it ever will.

Tripode

Passeig del Born, 17

A small but nicely decorated bar – it quickly became my friend and I’s favourite due to never staying sober there for more than ten minutes. The cocktails are all great, but the best part were the staff who quickly made us feel at home, and were always happy to see us. Probably because we spent so much.

Pipa Club

Plaça Reial, 3

This one is a secret club, you have to pass the bouncer and go up stairs. But you are graciously welcomed and shown a seat. The cocktails aren’t cheap but very good – and their own recipes are always worth trying. The bar is huge with lots of rooms, and in the Gothic Quarter you’ll find people from all walks of life.

Nevermind

Carrer d’Escudellers Blancs, 3/Carrer dels Tallers, 68

Two of these bars (one in Raval and one in Gothic) but both essentially the same – except the Raval one also has a little skate rink to chill on. These punk themed bars I would have died to visit when I was a teen. It has a fun vibe and chilled out atmosphere – even with the music blaring into your eardrums.

Dow Jones

Carrer del Bruc, 97

A bar with a stock market theme – prices go up and down and crash and so on all night – so it kinda decides your tipple for you.

Espit Chupitos

Everywhere

These shot bars boast over 600 different shots – and some are quite outrageous. Think head massages, syringes, and many more. Not just flaming shots. Order with caution, or lack of shame.

Born Voraz

Carrer de la Princesa, 33

Really, this is a rooftop bar on top of the hotel next door to the restaurant (also a great place to eat) but it seems to be shared by both. Although the views of El Born aren’t much from above, it is still nice to enjoy the sunset or even the little pool up there.

Sub Rosa

Carrer d’en Rauric, 23

My sister would always insist people go to this bar, so if she’s reading this: LOOK I MENTIONED IT. But to be fair, it’s a nice little bar hidden away in the Gothic Quarter, and its happy hour prices are very nice indeed.

 

There are of course so many more, but these ones have seen me at my worst (or best).

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Whitby

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As a post-birthday treat my Mum and her boyfriend took me on a day trip to Whitby, North Yorkshire.

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I haven’t been in years, but it is a picturesque seaside town.

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There are the famous 199 steps up to the church and well known abbey.

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The abbey is famous because of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – it was a key location for the classic gothic novel.

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Although Whitby is a prime location for its gothic themes, it is also a great example of a British seaside town – fish and chips, cute shops, sweets, arcades, cottages and amazing views.

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Montjuic

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Montjuic is a hill that sits above Barcelona – looking out to the sea and the city.

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You can either get the cable cars up and enjoy the views, or for a metro ride the funicular.

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Entry into the castle on the top is cheap, but there is also plenty to wander around and take in.

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Barcelona doesn’t offer a very distinctive skyline, unlike London or New York for example. But to many it is home, and beautiful.

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I went with my sister and her friends (and seriously hungover having graduated the day before), but it was lovely to finally visit this landmark and be nostalgic for the city that has been my home this past year.

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Tibidabo

I have finished  my masters degree! Except for my dissertation, and an extra semester in Berlin (!!!) come October. But for IBEI, and Barcelona, I only now have to twiddle my thumbs.

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So I went to twiddle my thumbs at Tibidabo, a mountain which overlooks the city of Barcelona. At the top you can find an amusement park, and a church. And of course, spectacular views.

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There are a few ways to reach Tibidabo, but we took the T2A bus from Placa de Catalunya, as it is the cheapest at 3 euros each way, and does not take too long.

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The church is beautiful inside and out.

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You can pay 3.50 euros to take a lift to the top, which offers even more amazing views, and dizzying heights.

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The amusement park looked really fun, but was 30 euros to go on the rides, so we passed!

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But really the journey is worth it just for the views.

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It doesn’t even need to take long, half a day and then you have the rest of the day to entertain yourself elsewhere.

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Hola, soy yo.

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What is my head doing I don’t know,

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I’m sad I only have two weeks left in Barcelona, and Spain. So I’m trying to tick things off my list, this being one of them!

A return trip to London!

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DO I MISS LONDON. I haven’t seen it properly since I left 2 years ago, except for a couple of overnight stays, which have both left me emotional to be back in a city which shaped me so much.

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So for a last trip with my BCN friends, I couldn’t wait to show them my London (hence why I insisted on staying in the East End).

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We explored so much and exhausted ourselves, the best way to be a tourist in London.

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The grey clouds are deceiving – it was just as warm as Barcelona!

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Of course we had to see some of the typical sights – it was a tourist trip after all.

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I visited Borough Market for the first time ever. It was nice to see it still thriving after the recent attacks.

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We saw Twelfth Night at the Globe theatre, one of my favourite places in London. It was very different to the previous Twelfth Night at the Globe I saw, but just as funny and well done.

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The U.K. has been subject to some horrific terrorist attacks recently, to the point my friends and their family were worried about us going. I never want London, or the U.K., to be off-putting to anyone. It is a beautiful place that (should) welcome all.

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I also got to meet up with friends in London, I miss them so much!

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I would love to live in London again – when I can afford it. It really is a place I always feel so happy to be in, and it is a city like no other.

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I always feel like London is a place people can be themselves, and express themselves.

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A visit to Somerset House – another place I had never visited! London is never in need of things to do or see.

Quotes for the Nomad in You

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This is purely beautiful. I wrote a post a while ago about the difference between being a travel and a tourist, and I feel like this quote sums it up. Life shouldn’t be about existing inside a bubble, unaware of how other people live their lives.

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Do I love Kerouac. The Beat generation experienced the world in a way anyone scared of living in a box wishes for. This quote I use as the lock screen for my phone – I first used it when life wasn’t going smoothly, and it gave me encouragement to look at. So now I always like to have it to look at whenever I need.

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This explains the feeling you get when you’ve been living away from home for a while – be it a different city, country, or even continent. You still identify with your home, but it doesn’t feel like your home any more. And neither does your adopted home. But you wouldn’t change it, because although it can feel out of place, you are free.

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Can we all just appreciate the fact that Rupi Kaur exists, and is the voice of inspiration and reason for women everywhere? This quote hit me because I used to feel like my perception of love was finding a home in someone else, but it is even better to be reminded that the home I make should be my own – both literal and figuratively.

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I have no idea as to the origins of this quote, but when I cam across it randomly on the internet, I felt like it described me perfectly. Because yes, if I could have this as my life I would be grateful, and happy. Friendly reminder to not waste your time on books that are mediocre, or you’re only reading because you feel like you should – but read the books that you want to, the ones that engage you. The ones that leave you feeling inspired, whether it’s an all time classic or something largely unnoticed by others.

Being an Expat: Expectations vs Reality

Living abroad is an amazing experience and adventure. You develop as a human being, and have amazing stories to tell your future grandkids/anyone who will listen to you brag. But it’s not what films and books always describe it to be, or how your family and friends imagine your cool new life. You’re still human, who misses home comforts.

Expectation: You’re a suave, sophisticated jet-setter. A coffee to go in one hand, and your passport in the other.

Reality: Flight delays, dodgy wifi, forever looking for a plug socket. You look and feel messy, and scowl at those who treat flying like a fashion show. At least you know how to dress for comfort.

 

Expectation: You live in a cute, traditional flat.

Reality: Same as any flat share. Kinda scruffy if you go for the cheap option, and your flatmates can be a strange bunch.

 

Expectation: You practice the language all the time.

Reality: They know you speak English. And they will use English with you. It’s manners, but you wish they would test you more.

 

Expectation: You learn new, local dishes, perhaps buying your ingredients in local shops and market stalls.

Reality: You get excited finding home products in the supermarket. Baked beans? PG Tips? Worcester Sauce? Bring it.

 

But really, it is a cultural experience like no other, and you’re grateful for the amazing opportunity you’ve been able to have.

Feliç la Diada de Sant Jordi

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In England, today is our national day of St George. It is also Shakespeare’s birthday (and death day). We don’t really celebrate, but in Catalonia St George, or Sant Jordi, is also the patron saint.

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They use the story of Sant Jordi slaying the Dragon and rescuing the princess. She gives him a book to say thank you, and he gives her a rose. So, on this day men give roses and girls give books. Kind of an unfair deal in my opinion, but still sweet. Any day that celebrates books is okay to me. Plus, I love giving novels as gifts, if it’s one I’ve read and love, then to me it’s a very personal gift. Everywhere there were stalls selling books and roses, and the profits of the roses go to charity. A sweet way to not commercialise a holiday.

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Casa Batllo was also decorated for the day. It was also promoting blood donations and had a bus outside. I’m not allowed to donate blood in the UK, due to receiving a blood transfusion a year ago. I had that in Spain and I’m a rare blood type so I was hoping I could to return the favour. The person in charge seemed very unsure, and it was a long wait before you could even see the doctor to be questioned so maybe I’ll try another time. But if you can donate – do!

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Faro, Portugal

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The last stop of our trip was the southern town of Faro. The train from Lisbon was delayed and we had to deal with a creepy middle aged man leering at my friend, but anyway, when we got there it was simple walk to our hostel. Baixa Terrace Hostel was our least favourite – the room was cramped for 6 people, security seemed a little lax and we skipped the included breakfast the second day, but for a small and not so touristy town we got what I expected.

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Our main goal for Faro was to sunbathe on the beach. The Bus 16 goes every hour and takes you to and from the beach (and airport) in about 30 minutes for 2.25 euros.

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As a lupie warrior I had to be extra careful with sun-cream, but still ended up burnt. The beach was nice with soft sand and a few cafes and shops.

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The town of Faro was nice for a small place, and definitely more local than Porto or Lisbon. It had some great restaurants and cafes, both local cuisine and international. We ate Mexican and drank margs and were given free tequila shots at Taco y Tequila, but also ate amazing Portuguese food at A Venda, and the cafes provided great breakfast and snacks.

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Due to me being burnt my lovely friends decided that instead of revisiting the beach before our evening flight, we would instead explore the old town.

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After the trip my Dad decided to tell me that in Faro there is a “Chapel of Bones” which I am so disappointed to have missed.

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It is definitely a place you can explore in a day or two, but it was very friendly and a nice end to our relaxed trip.

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Our last snack before the airport was tea and the local natas – so good!

Faro was sweet, and Portugal was lovely. I’ve never visited the country before, but I am so glad I finally have.

Lisbon, Portugal

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The second destination of our trip to Portugal was the capital – Lisbon. We caught the train from Porto which was less then 20 euros for those under 25 (about 25 for those older), and took about 3 hours. Our hostel – Lisbon Lounge Hostel was a short walk from the train station we stopped at. This hostel was clean with nice social areas and rooms. We also took part in the family dinner for 10 euros, and the bar crawl for 12. THAT was messy but fun… The breakfast provided included crepes, something I had never experienced at a hostel before!

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My favourite thing about Lisbon was the views. This one is blocked by some port wine sangria of ours, but the hilly nature of Lisbon provided us with some amazing spots to enjoy our drinks.

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We only had two days in Lisbon so spent it exploring the city, however also recommended is to take a day trip to the nearby Sintra, which also offers amazing sights.

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Again with the drink and the views… The local cuisine of Portugal is heavily focused on cod. The street our hostel was on seemed to consist of nothing but cod restaurants. Also a necessity to try is the local natas – an egg custard tart that goes amazingly well with cinnamon.

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Before our train to Faro we went up to the castle. 5 euro entry for students and 8.5 euros otherwise. The views from the castle were incredible. The castle itself was small and there was little information, but it was fun to walk around. Also worth getting there early, we did and got in easily but when we left the queue was reaching all the way down the street.

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Lisbon is a very small capital, you might even forget it is the capital. But the people were for the most part friendly (like in all the cities), and also like the other cities it was super relaxing to wander around and just enjoy the atmosphere. It has been on my travel bucket list so I am happy to have ticked it off, but also would happily return one day!