Still in Spain, still swingin’ feat. Oktoberfest & San Sebastian & Sitges

I love studying abroad. I want to do it again, in a million different cities. Maybe I’ll just move to Europe after college. MAYBE SO!!!!

The past couple of weeks in beautiful BCN have not let me down. Since I have a gdam 9am four times a WEEK in a city that has an average going out time of 1-5am, it’s been ROUGH HAVING TO GET UP AND PRACTICE SPANISH CONJUGATIONS, LET ME TELL YOU. But, I love my Spanish Professor Montse bc she’s the sweetest little woman and my classmates are great and I love learning Spanish so all is well in the weekday mornings, kind of.

The weekend after Amsterdam (which I just did a post about) my parents came to visit!! I also went to Oktoberfest the weekend before Amsterdam but I didn’t feel the need to do a blog post about it because I can summarize it in one sentence: a weekend of drinking a shit ton of beer and eating pretzels and shnitzel in the same outfit (an amazon ordered- dirndl) with a bunch of my Tulane friends at one long table in an international beer hall in Munich Germany PROSTING and trolling and napping on a comfortable hill outside and meeting lots of cool people from around the world. Here are some PHOTOS for your curiosity:

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I experienced Oktoberfest from various altitudes.

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When my parents visited we wined and DINEDDDDDDD. We went to

Cañete- a delicious small restaurant that serves modern Spanish tapas. Def recommend- the garlic shrimp and steak tartare were so good yas yasss

Estimar- INCREDIBLE place with ALL seafood- the presentation of the food was incredible they served oysters in these little metal mermaid spoon things. Who doesn’t love a mermaid oyster

Other than eating, we explored the adorable streets of one of my favorite Barcelona neighborhoods here called El Borne, enjoyed drinks on the rooftop bar of 1898 Hotel on Las Ramblas, shopped and ate at the monthly Palo Alto market with cool shop vendors and food and did a day trip to Montserrat!

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These past couple of weeks have been more consistent and routine-like because I’ve actually had class, for the most part. This past week was the first time I have actually had my Spanish class on Thursday without it being canceled because of a Spanish or Catalan holiday or because of a referendum protest or strike. It’s honestly a miracle I’m getting credit for my classes because I feel like I never have them lmao.

These past three weekends I’ve stayed in Spain instead of traveling to other countries and here’s why:

I’ve been lucky enough to travel around a lot of European countries already, and this is probably the only time in my life that I’ll be studying abroad, so I want to return to the US feeling like I know ALL the ins and outs of Barcelona. I’ve already learned so much more about the culture, history and way of life of the Spanish, or should I say Catalan because many don’t like to identify as Spanish lol. I hope to learn even more before my time runs out here, I don’t want to come back and just say I went to the cool brunch places that other Americans suggested and blah blah blah. I want the lady at my favorite empanada shop to know my name and to say I’ve been at every stop on the L4 metro and to truly become a local. And I DEFINITELY don’t want to say that I’ve been to the BCN El Prat Airport more times than I’ve been in the city itself because a girl literally told me she knows every corner of the Barcelona airport like the back of her hand yet has not spent one weekend here like bish wtf who are you.

My friends and I have probably been to la playa more than class because of this referendum. Whether it’s Barcenoleta beach (which can actually get so ridiculously annoying because you hear randos shouting “WATER ONE EURO” “MASSAGE MASSAGE” every thirty seconds), taking day trips to Sitges, or having a weekend at the beautiful beaches of San Sebastian, we have really been taking advantage of the coastal aspects of our location :-)

Some highlights have been:

Enjoying a day off with my friends at the beach and devouring Bo de B Sandwiches, the most enormous delicious sandwich you can get in Barcelona. For 5 euro they stuff these warm fresh baguettes with anything from lentils to chicken and tomatoes and avocado cream sauce and everything your heart desires. I’ve been twice already.

Hiking up to the Bunkers of El Carmel to see the most beautiful view of Barcelona and sip on wine and chew on cheese, a must. I’ve done THIS twice already too, because it’s simply not a view you can see just ONCE.

Going to the DAVID BOWIE IS exhibit here alone. I spend three hours in it and it filled my heart with warmth and inspiration and happiness. That sounds ridiculously cheesy but it’s so true and was SO WORTH IT and will actually be an exhibit that I will retain information from, unlike the majority of tours and guides I go on where to be COMPLETELY honest I don’t remember the majority of information from. Seriously who can actually remember a bunch of historical dates and events that you hear about once like honestly.

Devouring delicious pinxtos in San Sebastian, Spain which is KNOWN to have the best pinxchos. There are literally streets that are FILLED with just pinxtos tapas bars and you go from one to the other, nibbling on delicious croquettes and shrimp stuffed toasts and warm skewers of garlicky steak and truffle rissottos and fresh tomato salads. yum yum yum YUM!!!!

If you are thinking of doing weekend trips in Spain I highly recommend San Sebastian. The food is absolutely incredible (you have to do a pinxtos crawl) and if you don’t know, pinxtos are small little taps, basically could be absolutely any type of food that is topped on a petite piece of bread and they make a ton and put them on plates on top of the bar with toothpicks in them and you go in and out of the pinxtos bars eating one or two in each. Usually you get a free drink with every pinxto you buy. It’s lit. Also the beaches of San Sebastian are stunning and the town is really cute. One of the waiters at a tapas bar got my number but it was over once he wrote down his name, it was Angel lmao clearly that could never work.

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Sarah being sassy n’ fabulous

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Christine being cute n’ candid

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The coca-cola umbrella really just makes this photo am I right

We love wine and Spain

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I don’t think i will  ever get sick of enjoying and discovering the awesome bars and clubs of this city:

Nevermind Bar is a NIRVANA THEMED BAR HERE and it’s even got a skate park! Since Barcelona is a HUGE skating hub you can find a lot of them hanging out and drinking here.

Two of my roommates, Taylor and Caroline being v cute and trolling in their matching professional bar mitzvah dancer-esque outfits. This is one of the few times I have tolerated a fashion fedora.

Sor Rita- it’s this small kitchy bar with heels glues to the ceilings and pictures of women and a bunch of sacreligious decor. They have Tarot Card readings on Mondays and we went but it was too late :( so we will go earlier next time.

Sala Apolo- my favorite club in Barcelona thus far. Every Monday is NASTY MONDAYS, where the dj’s play incredible indie/alternative/rock music ranging from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Franz Ferdinand to AC/DC to The Beatles to The Kooks and Elvis and everything else in between that really gets ya rockin’. It’s a totally local scene with hip young Spaniards and EVERYONE is dancing their heart out till the break of dawn. You’re guaranteed a good time at Nasty Mondays I can guarantee DAT.

Foxy Bar- a small, indie bar that plays all my Marvin Gaye faves and is basically what a my bar would be decorated like if I had one, with David Bowie cut outs and messy collages of vintage art and funky mis-matched chairs and vinyl. And they have a Foxy Lady drink

Cyrano is a small bar where you pay for your drink and get to put in as much alcohol as you WANT, ‘tis a good deal.

Dow Jones is a bar that’s stock market themed, so the prices of drinks go up and down depending on how many people are buying them etc etc and we played a fun beer pong match with the bartenders lol

In terms of food, it’s really hard to go wrong. I feel like I’ve tried a ton of places and have curated a ginormous list of recommendations and suggestions, but every day I hear about a new cafe or restaurant that I have to try. Anything from japanese tapas to mediterranean chicken and falafels to sushi can be found in Barcelona, even POKE.

El Flako- this is legit a cereal bar and it’s so delicious

My long-time camp friend Cairo and I had a friend reunion night and ate at Mosquito Tapas, which has incredible cheap Japanese tapas like dumplings and lemon chicken and crunchy duck dishes and good wine. We stumbled upon an adorable restaurant called Story afterwards, and it happened to be their live jazz night, so we stayed for a good hour enjoying more wine and listening to the live jazz!!! The nights where you find gems like that unexpectedly are always the best.

This past Friday the 20th, Emma Jelis and I went on my program CEA’s day trip to the Penedes Winery to have a tour and small tasting, followed by a tour of Sitges, which is the awesome beach town we went to one of the first weekends we arrived in Barcelona.

Penedes vineyards

I LOVE walking around Barcelona alone. One of my favorite things to do is blend in and pretend to be a local, and when I’m on my own I feel like I can often get away with it, as long as I know what I’m doing and nobody can see the google maps on my screen from behind lol

An update on the Catalan referendum/ Spanish crisis:

Spain’s government basically wants to squash Catalonia’s government of its powers and elect a different President to replace Catalonia’s current one, Puigdemont. Puigdemont wanted to discuss and compromise with the Spanish government regarding independence but since it’s illegal Spain is like f*** no and now the pro-referendum peeps are fighting back even more, so I’m hoping my classes just keep getting canceled LMAO

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And while sometimes it seems like the craziness and the parties and constant markets and festivals never stop in Barcelona, there are the other times, when Barcelona is calm and peaceful and beautiful. Those are the times where I’m strolling through gorgeous Ciutadella park, taking runs down the wide, garden and playground-filled streets of L’Eixample and grocery shopping in Gracia and I can’t stop smiling at the adorable babies in strollers and elderly couples who gossip together on the outdoor benches and the leash-less golden retrievers and the smell of fresh pastries and the warm Barcelona breeze in my face.

I’m so sad to only have a little longer than two more months in my new home, which is why I created my new motto for my time here : YOBO – you only Barcelona once. And no, I definitely WON’T be only BCN-ing once, but still it’s a cute af motto

Until the next protest and empanada run,

~xoxo Ali~

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