Where to Eat in Barcelona – A Foodies Paradise

Did someone say food…?

The places to stuff your face in Barcelona are endless. There’s brunch, tapas, cafes, desserts, bakeries, the list goes on and on. Though I can’t fit it all on one list, I can provide you with some of my favorites from the past month. Get ready, your stomachs about to growl in 3, 2, 1…

Brunch & Cake 

Calling all foodies!! Snap a picture of anything on the menu at Brunch & Cake and your followers will be suffering from a severe case of food envy. The presentation of meals here is out of this world. I’m talking pink poached eggs, acai bowls served in pineapples, cheesecake banana french toast, and guacamole in a syringe… but with a slogan like, “In Grandmothers We Trust” would you really expect anything less? Major Key: order the ricotta pancakes -they seem to be a fan favorite on yelp. & Don’t forget to give us a shout out when your Instagram picture gets more likes than your selfie. #blessed.

My order: Avocado Toast w/ Quinoa/Feta/Poached Egg.

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Mama’s Cafe

Mama’s Cafe is tucked away in trendy and artistic neighborhood of Gracia.  Enjoy typical cafe style food like omelettes, sandwiches, and salads – plus they serve brunch all day long! The food is made with fresh organic ingredients and a wide variety of vegetarian options are available as well. However, the true magic of Mama’s is situated in the rear of the cafe where a quaint ,well shaded, terrace with terracotta tiles and fairy lights lies. It’s a space that feels effortlessly inviting and relaxing without trying to hard… and something about sitting on a terrace just kinda makes you feel cool – right? The interior is cozy as well with sofas, dimmed lights, and magazine covered coffee tables making it feel as though you could spend hours there without feeling rushed. So grab a book or a friend to chat with and head on over to Mama’s!

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Taverna El Glop

El Glop, El Glop, El Glop… If there is one place you go on this list please make it El Glop. You know that little restaurant down that street that you went to with your family growing up? Well this is that place – but better. The walls are full of framed photographs signed by athletes, actors, and politicians that frequent the restaurant. Not to mention the traditional Catalan food that will knock you off your feet. However, the heart of this restaurant lies in the wait staff. The manager will greet you at the door and the chef will start a conversation with you while he cooks. We’ve become quite close to some of the waiters who help us practice our Spanish and offer us free shots and cookies. It’s safe to say that we’ve been here more than a few times.

Order: tomato feta salad, chicken and vegetable paella, and a glass of red wine.

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La Bicicleta

If you are looking for yummy food on college friendly budget then add “La Bicicleta” to your Yelp bookmarks – ASAP! I ordered a blue cheese + mushroom panini and anchovie stuffed olives for just 5 euros. They project movies on the wall and play classic rock music all day long. So watch “Back to the Future,” jam out Jimi Hendrix, and indulge in some cheap delicious food. MIC DROP

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Doner Kebabs

Doner Kebab is NOT the name of a restaurant, it’s the name of delicious middle eastern sandwhich with meat, veggies, and tzatziki sauce in pita. They are super cheap (3 euro), very filling, and you can find them in an array of restaurants around the city. They have become my roommate and I’s go-to lunch during breaks between classes. I think i’ll miss these the most when I leave.

 

Stay tuned, the “Best Bars” and “Best Dessert” posts are on their way!

xoxo,

Mads!

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Northwest Breweries to Visit in Seattle and Portland

Today – we are talking beer! More specifically Oregon and Washington beer.

Seattle and Portland are two cities that you NEED to visit if you a craft beer fan. There are so many bucket list breweries in the northwest. Here are some of our favorites:

Image result for cascade brewingPhoto: Sum Design Studio

PORTLAND

Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Famous for their sours and their Tap It Tuesdays where they tap a new barrel each week. A must if you are a big sour fan.

Great Notion Brewing and Barrel House

With a tagline of, “With a passion for hops, and the patience for sours”, you know they have good beer. One of our favorite new finds on the trip in the arts district.

McMenamins Kennedy School 

This place is not exclusively just a brewery. It is a historic (and slightly creepy) elementary school turned brewery, bar, hotel, theater, and restaurant. Make sure to visit the detention room cigar bar.

SEATTLE

Holy Mountain Brewing

The up-and-coming breakthrough brewery of the Northwest. They have a unique taste and cool minimalist taproom vibe. My personal favorite in Seattle.

Fremont Brewing Company 

When you visit this brewery you can tell it’s a local favorite. Laid-back, good IPAs, and free pretzels. It is also within walking distance from the famous Fremont Troll.

Have you been to any of these? Also, let me know if you have any others to recommend!

Hoppy Thursday!

-Gigi

5 Mini Adventures in BCN

As week two draws to a close I still find myself making little mental notes as I walk down the street and pass things that catch my eye. My wandering is usually accompanied by sporadic thoughts like, “Make sure I come back to try this cafe,” and “Oh, this street is really picturesque, I really should come back with my camera.” The bucket list that should be shrinking has only grown in length, but luckily I have a few months to check it off. Plus, the adventures (and stories) are usually better when you start off with one plan and end up in a completely different one. So, here are 5 Mini Adventures you can take if you ever find yourself in Barcelona:

1.)  The Arc de Triomf & Parc de la Ciutadella: 

My roommate and I ventured out on a rainy (rain in Barcelona? – gasp!) Sunday afternoon with intentions of checking out Parc de la Ciutadella. However, on our way there we were greeted by the massive and beautiful Arc de Triomf that acts like a doorway to a wide paved street lined with palm trees and street performers making gigantic rainbow bubbles that float off into the sky. If the fact that I just said “gigantic rainbow bubbles floating off into the sky” hasn’t sold you on going already, then keep walking until you hit the entrance of Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s the perfect place to go when your craving the nature and greenery that the city lacks. Buy some bocadillos (sandwiches) and enjoy lunch in the grass, or rent a small paddle boat and row down the lake all the whilst your surrounded by swans and ducks. After wandering through the parc, we were set on going to the Picasso Museum, since entrance is free on sundays from 2-8pm. But the line was very long, and we were very hungry, so we made a vow to come back… and then we booked it to the nearest cafe for churros con chocolate and lattes!

 

 

2.) FC Barcelona Football Game: 

You absolutely cannot go to Barcelona without witnessing an FC Barcelona football game at the world famous stadium Camp Nou. The streets are electric the day of a game as fans are repping Barca gear. My professor even let us out early because it was game day, and for the short amount of time he kept us in class I could here people chanting outside the whole time. My roommates and I snagged tickets for just 17 euros and met up with a group of 12 friends to enjoy the game together – I even met a girl from Bolivia who was just ending her time abroad in Barcelona and she gave me some travel tips. The stadium was packed and it was obvious that everybody was taking advantage of the cheap tickets. To get in the spirit I bought my very own FC Barca scarf. You can find these in most of the touristy spots around the city like Las Ramblas but I found mine in the metro station of all places. The guy was asking 20 euro – and even though I was nervous, I tried to heckle him down to a cheaper price – and it worked! I got the scarf for just 10 euro which is a really good price compared to most. My roommate got a scarf and a Messi Jersey for 40 euro. If you have time head to a bar beforehand, like we did, so you don’t have to pay for overpriced drinks at the game. Oh and one more thing, rest your voice because you will be screaming “GOOOOAAL!!!” the entire night. If you can’t make it to a game, at least head to a bar and cheer on the team with some locals, this is what I’ll be doing on the day of the big game (Madrid vs. Barcelona) when tickets are extremely pricey. This ended up being one of my favorite nights thus far, so make sure to put it at the top of your bucket list. 

 

3.) Montjuic & Museums

Montjuic is a hilltop in Barcelona that offers breathtaking views of the harbor and is home to the stunning Palau Nacional. In 1929 Barcelona hosted the World International Exhibition, and so they built the Palau Nacional for the sole purpose of impressing visitors. After the exhibition Barcelona intended to tear the building down, but its beauty captured the heart of the people and so they petitioned to keep it –today it serves as home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia. On Saturday Afternoons admission to the museum is free after 3:00pm, and even if you aren’t an art gallery type of person, the elaborate ceilings and white sculptures will offer you a new appreciation. The best part of the National Art Museum of Catalonia, however, is the terrace at the very top! The views are jaw dropping. If you make it up to the terrace by 5:30 you’ll be lucky enough to witness the sun set over the city. This was the best view of Barcelona I have seen yet. As you head down the hill to leave you will run straight into the Magic Fountain, make sure you stay to catch the show that combines water, lights, and music. After the show, head into the city for some tapas!

4.) The #WomensMarch

If you haven’t heard about the Woman’s March that took place all over the world on January 21st… have you been living under a rock? If so, its okay because I was living under a rock too – and by rock I mean my apartment’s broken Wifi. For me, the women’s march happened accidentally. I got off of the metro on my way to meet up with some friends for lunch and found myself in the center of a sea of posters and a massive crowd of courageous women. I am so happy that I was asked to lunch that day, and that the metro stop happened to be the meeting place for the march. I am so happy that I was able to take videos and pictures of all the beautiful women fighting for what they believe in. The best part of the whole thing was that I was able to feel the energy that was buzzing through the streets, and the hope and the happiness of a more united and equal future for females. It was a day I will never forget, and one that will be shared in history books for years to come. In general, Barcelona is a very politically active city, meaning peaceful marches happen quite often, if you have the chance to get involved in something you are passionate about… go for it! 

 

5.) Park Güell & The Sagrada Familia

If you’re a fan of architecture, Antoni Gaudí’s work will not disappoint. I’m talking about the infamous Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. These are two of the most popular landmarks in Barcelona, and you can’t leave without checking at least one of them out. Park Güell offers whimsical and winding mosaic tiled benches, gingerbread-esque looking Gaudi houses, and colorful lizards sprinkled throughout the park. It’s a great spot for views of Barcelona and picture taking.Tickets will put you back 8 euro, but if you order online beforehand you can knock off a euro and see the landmark for just 7, plus you get to skip the ticket line. Park Güell resides in the same beautiful barrio as my apartment – Gracia. Make sure to check out the graffiti and plazas while you’re here. The Sagrada Familia is even more spectacular, in my opinion. It is a gorgeous church that has been under construction since 1882 – and it is still not finished! The projected finish date is now 2026. You can enjoy its beauty from the outside, or you can buy a ticket to a guided tour (13 euros) which I would definitely recommend. The inside is even more amazing then the outside with stained glass windows that create a kaleidoscope effect when the sun shines through. Words cannot explain, so go make sure to check it out for yourself when you come. 

 

 

Some other “not-so-adventerous- but-really-funny” things that happened to me this week: I fell down some stairs, I accidentally dyed the bath towels in my apartment blue while doing laundry, and I spent 8 euro on a small jar of peanut butter because I just really needed some.

Until next time, 

Adiós!

 

The Study Abroad Chronicles – Part 1

Nice to meet you Barcelona, my name is Maddie.

img_1605By the time I landed, I already felt like Barcelona had defeated me. Two rain filled layovers in JFK and Heathrow, and the small debacle of missing my third flight depleted me of all my energy and left me with bags under my eyes and only adrenaline to keep me going. When I stepped off the plane in my final destination wearing yesterdays clothes, and in dire need of a shower, the Spanish sun poured in through the airport’s glass windows and warmed my skin, offering me glimmer of hope (along with some much needed vitamin D). I could put it simply and say that this week has been hectic… but it has been anything but simple. It’s been complex and exhilarating, scary and wonderful, and when days turn into nights and the sky goes sherbet orange and gold with flecks of pink, it is magical.

Our flight took off early at 6am, which meant driving to LAX at 3am and saying goodbye for five months to my tearful parents around 4:30am. I had three connecting flights that added up to a grand total of 27 hours of traveling due to my help-me-I’m-poor college budget. Then something amazing happened… by the grace of god an angel at American Airlines upgraded our tickets from economy to BUSINESS. The moment I discovered I was in business class is quite honestly a contender for the best moment of my life. Never will I forget the complimentary champagne, the warm towelettes, or the reclining chairs, and never again will I be able to afford it. I slept for five hours straight.

Upon arriving in London, the line at customs and the wait at baggage claim ensured that we did indeed miss our flight. We ran frantically from one side of the airport only to be sent back to the other side, had our tickets changed twice, got stuck in an elevator, dropped suitcases down escalators, laughed a lot and finally made it to our gate with one minute to spare. I fell asleep on the flight over but when I woke up and saw the ocean and the sun from my window I nearly cried. We had arrived. (Best part: taxi driver holding a sign with our names on it – just like the movies)!

img_1478The apartment I share with two roommates is very quaint and European looking, which is obvious, I guess, considering I am in Europe… but you know what I mean. Think red, yellow, and blue Catalan futbol flags hanging from apartment windows, miniature appliances, teeny tiny shops that sell nothing but bread and pastries for a euro, men in fancy leather shoes, and lots and lots of people smoking cigarettes in a way that makes them look really sophisticated and not at all like what you grew up learning in the D.A.R.E. program at school.

My roommate and I share a little bedroom with two twin beds pushed against opposite walls separated by a big window and nightstand with two drawers. The window opens up with no screen and we like to stick our heads out and look at all the people down below.  Our walls are paper thin and at night I can hear people on the street walking home from bars and clubs chanting, “¡Barcelona!, ¡Barcelona!, and even though I’m trying to sleep away my jet lag, I don’t mind it at all. It is exiting knowing that the city is so alive and that soon I’ll be walking home chanting from the streets as the sun comes up too.

This morning I woke up before the sun was up and went out to the balcony in slippers and a giant wool coat – I like watching the old Spanish women pull open their shades and seeing the square windows of the apartments across from me slowly go from dark to illuminated as they wake up to water their plants and hang their laundry from the line. The sun finally started to rise and I could clearly see that Barcelona had not defeated us, it’s challenged us, and we are so ready.

xx Mads