In April, my boyfriend and I decided to visit three cities in Europe for 10 days. My cousin was studying abroad in Paris. So, we went to celebrate her 21st birthday and immerse ourselves into new cultures. We visited Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and had a 5 hour layover in Stockholm. I decided to create three separate blog posts to share the highlights of each city. Since Barcelona was our first stop on the trip, I’ll share a bit about our flight experience from NYC to Barcelona and then dive right into my Barcelona experience.
The Flight To Europe
We decided to take Norwegian Airlines because it was the most inexpensive. Overall I’d give this airline a 6 out of 10. The service was a step up from Spirit and South West. However it was no JetBlue or Delta experience for sure! They charge you for every little thing which is understandable because that’s probably what makes their ticket cheap but it was annoying. They will not give you any snacks or offer you a drink if you have not paid. The only standard thing that comes with your ticket is a spot on the plane and a carry on bag.
They’ll give you water if you outright ask. But, if you don’t they ignore you like you don’t exist. I just wasn’t a fan of this business model. A free drink on an 8+ hour flight should be offered. People shouldn’t have to chase down a flight attendant for it. Of course they do sell things on the flight but for absurd prices. Luckily, we saved money sharing. We bought one checked bag and one meal. We also opted to not pay ahead of time for seat selection and were given two seats together! Lesson learned: I probably won’t be flying this airline again unless the prices are irresistibly cheaper than other airlines. But Norwegian is going bankrupt so they probably wont exist by the next time I go to Europe.
The Flights Between Cities
Over the course of the week, we also flew on two budget friendly airlines including Vueling and Transavia. Those flights were very short, about an hour maximum each. We had no issues with seats or baggage. Everything was smooth except for the hour delay on Transavia. Fortunately, our flight was so early in the morning that the hour delay didn’t bother us, we hung out in an airport lounge.
*Tip* I prefer to book short flights between countries very early in the morning to maximize the day.
I was psyched to visit Barcelona, mostly because it is where The Cheetah Girls 2 was shot. The weather was the best of all the places we visited. It was low 70’s in the day and mid 50’s at night, perfect Spring weather. After we landed in Barcelona–El Prat Airport, we gathered our bags and got on the train. Figuring out how to take the train was a process but we found an attendant who spoke English and explained the whole thing, even got us a deal with our metro pass.
After we dropped off our stuff at the Airbnb, (which was located in Eixample) we headed to Mercado de La Boqueria. Boqueria is one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets. At this point, we were traveling with my cousin who studied abroad in Barcelona the previous summer, so she was familiar with the area. After stuffing our faces with delicious food at the Boqueria, we walked around La Ramblas, took pictures then headed to a beautiful rooftop bar with a pool called 1848, before heading back to get ready for dinner and a night bar hopping. I’ll leave my top recommendations below. Overall, Barcelona has mind-blowing food, beautiful, iconic scenery, and the people are pleasant.
*Tip* Be very aware of pick picketers as Barcelona is one of the worst cities for pick pocketing. Also, most people in Barcelona speak Catalan, not Spanish.
Where To Eat:
1. Boqueria (as mentioned above)
2. Bar Carnete – We had the best dinner here. This restaurant has some of the best tapas in Barcelona. We probably tried almost everything on the menu and it was all fantastic. Make sure to make a reservation ahead time as it fills up quickly.
3. Surf House – Delicious healthy options, great for lunch while walking along the beach in Barceloneta. I had the best chicken burger and smoothie here!
4. Mosquito – Amazing asian tapas and a range of yummy beers! This restaurant is also in walking distance to plenty of bars.
5. Federal Cafe -Tasty brunch place with outdoor seating.
6. La Pizza del Born -Yummy late night pizza place located near a strip of bars in El Born.
7. Boheme – Great cafe for a quick inexpensive morning pastry.
Where To Drink:
1. Hotel 1898 Rooftop
2. Iberostar Rooftop
5. Bo Kaap
6. Espit Chupitos (shot bar with over 600 different shots )
What To Do:
1. La Ramblas – a busy tourist area with a lot of restaurants, stores and fantastic architecture
2. Sagrada Familia – known as the most important work of Antonio Gaudi and Barcelona’s most visited monument.
3. Barceloneta– a beautiful area right near the beach with a bunch of boats, bars and restaurants. I adored this area, it reminded me of Venice Beach, CA.
4. Park Guell – A very famous park built between 1900 and 1914 by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi. Make sure to book tickets ahead of time to enter.
Next up, Paris!