• sample western europe itinerary

Barcelona: tapas, sangria, and life lessons

There is nothing like the comforts of home. By home, I mean Anuar’s apartment in Barcelona. My superhero couchsurfing host picked me up from the police station after I was pickpocketed and filled me up with pasta and beer while I sulked that my photos were missing. There might have been a couple tears.

To recap: at the start of my 72 hours in Barcelona, my camera stolen on metro, chased down thieves, thieves deleted photos, got camera back.

There was only one way to remedy the situation: alcohol, tapas, and sangria in Barcelona.

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

Sightseeing and Port Olympic

It was early, and in Barcelona parties go until 6 or 7 in the A.M. We had a good 12 hours to go and since no one goes to clubs until after midnight, Anuar, our tourguide (just kidding, but one of my favorite reasons for using couchsurfing) took us on a tour of Barcelona for a few hours.

We drank a bottle of wine outside the King’s Palace and watched the fountain light show dance in tune with the music.  Street performers lined the edges as we walked on to the Olympic stadium. It was gorgeous all lit up at night.

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

By three A.M. we finally left the small bars, and went to the main clubbing area, Port Olympic. It’s near this artificial beach with a giant goldfish and twin towers. You can see all the boats lined up, but be careful on the sand there- it’s little rocks and my weak baby feet couldn’t take the pain.

Why was I barefoot you ask?

It was 3 A.M. I’m lucky I could even still walk…

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

All the bars are lined up and you can basically bounce from one to the other. Incredibly, one man that helped me during the pickpocketing fiasco was a bouncer at the last club, The Enfermia, which mean the nursery. Being a nurse, I found the place too funny: guys stripping off green scrubs on the bar, girl bartenders in slutty nurse outfits, and bartenders shooting liquor at you from syringes.

barcelona spain

Another night out took us to Razzmataz. FYI it’s about 15 Euro to get it. So bat those eyelashes, unless you’re a guy and you’re out of luck. I’ve been nowhere like Barcelona when it comes to partying.

Megan and I danced for 4 hours straight and made it home after the sun came up. Megan was in a salsa dancing zone with 4 boys that she couldn’t decide between, I was more about vodka. Lots of vodka. Can’t even think about it now (barf).

Important lessons:

  • Estrella is a horrible Spanish beer
  • Mahou is a good Spanish beer
  • A bacon egg and cheese club sandwich is called a bikini. There’s also a trikini. They just threw in a pork tenderloin, no biggie.
  • Every city I go to in Europe, I will end up in an Irish bar
  • Every club will play Grease Lightening. They are not being ironic.
  • Spaghetti carbonara at 5 A.M. is the usual
  • You can lay out topless here
  • The jewelry shopping along the beach is the BEST!
  • high-waisted short shorts scream “I’m American!”
  • Russians don’t understand the concept of drinking games. They just down shots.
  • NO MATTER WHAT do not fly Vueling airways unless you want hour delays, no electricity on the plane, and no luggage when you land.  

Tapas and Sangria

Thank heavens we were with a local guy who could take us to the best places for tapas. I have never had such great food, ever! I also didn’t know how much the Spanish love honey mustard. We bounced from tapas place to market, to bar, to tapas place all afternoon. We wandered around the antique looking Gothic Quarter until sufficiently stuffed and a little tipsy, it was back home to get ready for another big night out.

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

Where to get your Sangria fix: Black Sheep

What to get at the market: stock up on roasted almonds and peanuts, they make a great snack on trains and buses, are filling, and last a while

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

Sagrada Familia & Park Guell

Park Guell is not only an astounding art work by Gaudi, but it’s also where you’ll get great view of the city. He was the first person to make chairs curve to fit your back. The park is so fun to walk through; it’s like being in a gingerbread house covered in icing and colorful ceramic tiles… or Disneyland. It’s a ‘don’t miss’ in Barcelona.

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

Sagrada Familia is stunning as well, but was under construction. No one mentions that these ancient buildings and castles all over Europe are literally always under construction. Bummer.

barcelona spain

barcelona spain

Anuar had 3 other couchsurfers come the day we left. We all recovered from hangovers, they made apple strudel, and we played Guitar Hero before Megan and I headed off to Athens. My backpack headed off to Russia for all I know, but that’s another story.

If you’re spending one week in Barcelona, or more, you can check out that link for more tips instead of just reading my story from there.



About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Ally Keller February 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this Awesome post, Miss Hippie in Heels! It’ll help tons on my next trip to Spain, France and Morocco! Very fun, informative and colorful!
    Any info on Morocco? We plan to cross over from Tarifa, Spain…..

    Happy Trails!!! :-D


    • Rachel Jones February 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      I haven’t been to Morocco! You’ll have to give me some tips after your trip.

      • Ally Keller February 4, 2014 at 12:31 am - Reply

        Will do for sure!!! Are you on WordPress? I write my humble travel Blog there :-D

  2. Elora February 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    How fun! I’ve watched several things on Barcelona, I’ve had friends who were from (or had family in) Barcelona–needless to say I REALLY want to go. Sounds awesome. And beautiful. ;)
    Although, that sandwich called a bikini–I could just picture asking for a breakfast sandwich and the dude saying, “Oh, you want bikini” and I would be like “WHAT??? NO!” Made me laugh.

    • Rachel Jones February 5, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

      haha I never thought about that with the bikini! That would be funny.

  3. Alex @ ifs ands & butts February 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Barcelona was my first stop ever in Europe and my jet lag was not even close to ready to the World Cup game victory celebration that would follow – what a great city!

    • Rachel Jones February 5, 2014 at 6:41 am - Reply

      It’s already such a wild city so to add that.. and it being your first time in Europe, wow that must have been crazy!!

  4. Corinne February 5, 2014 at 5:55 am - Reply

    I love, love, love Barcelona…and the tapas and sangria….could be one of the many reasons why!

  5. CNA Journal February 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Love the photos – what camera did you take them with??

  6. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena March 12, 2014 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Nice rundown of your BCN trip – sorry you got robbed, that sucks bigtime! Looks like your partying remedy was enjoyable though, next time I return to BCN I have to hit the party scene :D

    • Rachel Jones March 12, 2014 at 2:22 am - Reply

      Yeah being robbed is the worst way to feel like a badass backpacker! Lol. You MUST check out the party scene!

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