Summer Vacation Part 1: Barcelona

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After finishing my dissertation, a few friends and I jetted off for a few days of vacation and, man, did I need it. I’m the kind of person that takes a long time to decompress from long term stress, but I discovered that changing my surroundings did wonders for my relaxation – it really helped me realize that my dissertation was actually over! Woohoo!

First off, we headed to beautiful Barcelona. I’ve been craving hot weather all summer since summers in Dublin are typically mild and wet so this leg of the trip totally hit the spot. The city has so much energy and the siesta life is definitely something I can get on board with. I tried to unplug for the most part (so I didn’t take a ton of photos), but wanted to share some of my favorite bits from the trip.

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Where we stayed: Our beautiful AirBnb was perfect. A 3 minute walk from La Rambla, spacious enough for everyone to hang out and eat dinner or play cards, and had glorious air conditioning in each of the main rooms. The only complaint I would have is the stairs: you have to walk up 5 flights of stairs to get the apartment, so definitely not accessible, if that’s a consideration. Other than that, though, we had a wonderful time staying there and between the 5 of us it was about 20 bucks a night, which was cheaper than the hostels!

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Where we ate: La Boqueria is the market off of La Rambla and was hands down the best food we had the whole trip. I would not shut up about how amazing the oysters are – the shopkeeper literally cracks them open and hands them to you to eat with lemon and tabasco. Heaven. We also got fresh fruit smoothies, prosciutto sandwiches, cheese croquettes, and cups of aged ham for cheaper than anywhere else. Best food no matter your budget.

Other great places we ate were: Makamaka was perfect for post-beach burgers and beer since it’s so close to the ocean. And you have to get the truffle parmesan fries, they might be the most delicious things I’ve ever had. Another great spot we went to was Story, a chill, hip spot with great homemade pasta and unique tapas. Think bearded hipster waiters and classic 1950s tunes – great atmosphere.

We totally caved and ate dinner at one of the touristy outdoor restaurants along La Rambla, but I would recommend going once. Great people watching and they have all the tapas and paella you could want. And order the black rice paella, it’s seriously the best!

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Where we drank: Since we were on a budget for the trip, we opted for the cheapest drinks humanly possible and oh did we find them. Two of my friends had stayed at the Kabul Hostel the last time they’d come to Barcelona and, although we weren’t staying there, they welcomed us to their dirt cheap rooftop bar. Like €2 cups of sangria and €1 shots dirt cheap. Obviously these aren’t the most delicious drinks ever, but when the clubs and restaurants charge €12 for a beer, it was a relief to find somewhere affordable. Plus, Kabul does fun bar crawls every night if you’re looking to go out and meet some new people.

In terms of nightlife, we joined Kabul on their bar crawl on the first night, which was great since we hadn’t really planned anything yet. Although the “free shots” and “party games” were a bit lame, it was nice to not worry about where to go and just go along for the ride. We also had a great time at Opium along the beach, but I would steer clear of Bling Bling which was unreasonably snobby and overpriced.

P.S. If anyone knows of a great hip-hop club in Barcelona, please let me know! We were searching for this place that the boys had been before that played great rap and r&b music, but struck out. We’re still so curious, though!

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What we did: Believe it or not, we did more than drink on our trip and actually got some sightseeing done while we were there. We visited the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which had a beautiful collection, and walked around the deserted Olympic Village, which is just behind the museum. We toured the completely beautiful Sagrada Familia, which was my favorite because I’m a sucker for big, elaborate churches. And on our last afternoon, we rented paddle boards from a beach side shop and had the best time floating along (but mostly falling into) the ocean – just look out for jellyfish!

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Definitely a successful first leg of the journey! Although pretty steeped in tourists given it was the high season, we still had a great time – a good mix of relaxing, sight seeing, and partying. Just what the doctor ordered after a summer stuck in the library… Keep your eyes peeled for the Vacay Part 2: Berlin, coming at you very soon!

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