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I'm Nadine. Thanks for stopping by. The floors are creaky, the kids are loud, but the door's always open and the coffee's always on.

Make yourself at home.

The Best of Barcelona

This was "our" street. It's three hours away from turning into party central.

We've been home from Europe for almost a month now and I've totally neglected to recap our time in Barcelona.

When I first met Matthew, he told me he wanted to live in Barcelona. So I made it a priority to visit as soon as possible. Now that we've been there together, I think I can safely say that, A, we probably won't ever move there, and, B, it's a great holiday spot worthy of frequent visits...especially if we ever move to, say, Paris. (Please?) Sort of like Europe's Miami Beach. Par-tay!

We took the train from Paris to Barcelona. It's a little pricey, the food is questionable — as in, "Does food exist on this train? WHAT?! It's all gone?!" — and 95% of the washrooms ran out of toilet paper before we arrived. Still, it was very worth it. For the views.

Barcelona was H-O-T at midday. Quiet in the morning. Buzzing in the evening.

Highlights included:

1. La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia was a surprise highlight. I had no idea I would be so moved by this gorgeous basilica. Don't judge its imposing exterior. The interior is so light-filled and...conducive to prayer? Unlike Notre Dame and other famous churches, this one has no room for politics. Every detail exists to reveal something about God or scripture. 

2. Montjuïc Castle

I finally got to see a castle that wasn't tacky! (Sorry, Versailles. You were too over the top for this gal.) Although it was a little sketchy, history-wise.

3. Overpriced sangria on the beach (+ cheap alcohol elsewhere)

I'm not endorsing drinking alcohol in the hot sun. But it happened. A few times.

4. The beach

When you're hot, where else is there to go? (Other than an air-conditioned room. Which is my go-to destination in T.O.)

Overrated: Humidity. We showered twice a day.

And now for the most important part: the food!

1. Quimet i Quimet

This was the last tapas place we visited — and the most memorable. The standing-room-only place focuses on preserves. And everything is little and affordable and delicious. And they have their own beer. We shared eight small plates — and had two drinks each — for the equivalent of $50 CAD.

I want to go (back) to there.

2. Golfo de Bizkaia

We ate here…um…three times. Loyalty.

The wine is cheap. So is the food. The atmosphere is hip. (Very few tourists or people over 40.) And they trust you. Grab a bite or two from the trays of tapas. Save the toothpick stuck in each item. At the end of the night, they tally your toothpicks and charge you for how much you ate. That's it.

If we lived in Barcelona, we would be regulars.

3. Cal Pep

 We'd heard (very) good things. We waited in line for an hour. And then let the chef bring us whatever he wanted. It was a daring move that paid off — mostly. We ended up with a few more fried dishes than we would've preferred. (Fried artichokes!) But vacations aren't for feeling good about yourselves, right? And they're certainly not for pooping. (DRINK MORE WATER.)

Bonus: They gave me a bottle of chilled white wine. At the end of the night, they only charged me for how much I drank. THIS NEEDS TO BE A THING EVERYWHERE.

4. 7 Portes

THIS is how to eat spinach. With raisins and toasted pine nuts.

Everything is closed in Barcelona on Sundays. Except this "Sunday night institution."

Guys, there was live piano accompaniment! And paella. We wanted needed paella. This hit the spot.

Also, Yoko Ono and Charlton Heston ate there once. So says the bench Matthew was sitting on. If it's good enough for Moses, it's good enough for everyone.

5. Bar Pinotxo

Some say this is the best in the city. Bar Pinotxo is located in in the famous La Boqueria Market. It's a little crazy/crowded there, but the food was tasty — best garbanzo beans of the trip — and the experience fun. Recommended.

Honorable mention: Dulcinea. Because…chocolate for breakfast.

Oh, and while we were at the market, we bought a super-pricey slice of jambom iberico, the "world's best ham." Just because we could. (No, there's no reason anyone NEEDS the world's best ham. Ham is ham.)

And Milk, a hipster-bar-worthy-of-Bloordale breakfast spot. It was a little surreal. It felt like home. Complete with granola and Passion Pit.

(According to our Airbnb host, Barcelona doesn't really "do" breakfast. No kidding. The place is dead in the a.m.)

Phew. That's it, folks. We ate, we drank, we saw things. I got blisters. The sunscreen worked. And I got a stamp on my passport.

I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Where to next, Matthew?

Read Paris highlights here, here, and here.


Cruisin' to a World Cup Win