Barcelona, Spain

We stayed at The Hipstel hostel on Carrer de Valencia, which is one block from Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s famous commissioned houses. The hostel is in an older apartment building. Clean, private bathrooms available, and our 12 bed room was airy and had an attached indoor terrace room.

Our first stop in Barcelona was Sagrada Familia. We walked to the church, bought tickets for the next available time (1 hour wait,) and walked across the block to Aitor restaurant to grab a drink.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png

After seeing Sagrada Familia we strolled down Carrer de la Marina. We stopped at a local corner cafe, Ve de Gust, for mussels. We continued to walk around the area for a few hours. We stumbled upon the Arc de Triumph and its’ park and had the chance to see some local street performers.

We then walked to Restaurant La Pepita for dinner which was highly recommended by our friends for tapas, but unfortunately we couldn’t get in. The restaurant looked cute but the wait was too long. A must for next time. So instead of La Pepita we walked towards our hostel and stopped at ArtEspanole for seafood paella, which was terrible.

Attachment.png

The following morning we woke up early and walked up Carrer de Garcia, then an incredibly steep street to Park Guell. Park Guell was great (just as last time) but touristy crowded (just as last time.)

Attachment.png

On the way home we shopped along Garcia on the way home. Nick got a great vegetarian sandwich at Mary Market below our hostel and I smelled the Brie Meaux Truffe for a while. At 12€ a slice I couldn’t get myself to buy it.

Attachment.png

After napping we walked down La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter. Stopped at McDonalds to try it and Nick got his first European Big Mac. A disappointment as expected. We then bumped into the large food market on La Ramble and immediately re-regretted the McDonald’s decision. We bought fruit juices and drooled over the seafood and charcuterie options.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png

We continued down to the marina and walked along to the beach neighborhood of the city. Dipped our feet in the water and plopped on the pebble tide and collected beach glass for hours. Barcelona’s trash is my treasure. Bought beers from a local selling them on the beach.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png

Our last dinner in Barcelona was absolutely fantastic. La Castanya, a small modern tapas spot. Women eating at the bar started raving about their food as we walked in and immediately we were comforted. I got a Ginger rosemary gin and tonic. And we shared assorted dried tomatoes, bruschetta, octopus salad, pork shoulder charcuterie, beef tartar, and more.

Attachment.png

After dinner we bar hopped. Met a South African couple that lives in the U.K. at our first top, ended up at an 18 year old club at our second stop, then ended at a cocktail lounge.

The next morning we grabbed a prosciutto and brie sandwich and coffee from Quatre 14, then went across the street to the empty Meiyu Ungles for a mani/pedi. First thing in I knocked over one of the nail polishes and it splattered all over the floor, two chairs and my legs. Immediately four women were on their hands and knees cleaning up my mess. Then I had two women working on my mani- they clearly wanted to get the hot mess out of there. The women refused to give Nick a back massage because he was a man but he did get a pedi and foot massage. After our “relaxing” time we walked around our hostel neighborhood one last time before grabbing a taxi for the airport. No Uber here.

Attachment.png

Sitges, Spain

We were in Sitges for a good friends wedding and had an absolutely amazing long weekend in this beach/mountain Meditterean town.

Attachment.png

We flew from Lisbon to Barcelona, rented a car from Europcar, and drove 20 Minutes to Sitges. We parked on the waterfront, put our feet in the water, walked the small beach and grabbed lunch at Ragazzi. Toasted goat cheese salad and procuitto pizza completely hit the spot. After we learned that we could also order off the menus from the the Argentina and sushi restaurants on either side, and I immediately regretted not getting some sashimi as well.

The wedding weekend was held at the villa Almiral de la Font, which is located about 15 minutes into the country side of Sitges. The villa was stunning at the top of a winding cliff. It had 28 rooms and an infinity pool overlooking it’s vineyards, and in the distance we could see the ocean.

Attachment.png


4 days. Multiple bottles of cava and wine. 30 people sleeping in the villa. Moroccan inspired outdoor lounge areas. Infinity pool with floaties, and a hot tub. A game room with an Olympic sized pool table. A trampoline. Palm trees and wine vineyards. Hiking trails. Golf course on the Mediterranean. A bedroom with great sunset light and a private back patio. 2 incredibly sweet Spanish woman chefs. An amazing first night meal of authentic tapas at the banquet dining table. Every morning an array of frittatas, shashuka, chorizo, smoked salmon, prosciutto, and watermelon. A final last meal of paella with the best paella rice I’ve ever had. Late night snacks of taboulé and arugula salads. Family, old friends and lovers. A gorgeous beaded white dress. Beautiful white and pink peonies and roses. A Spanish guitarist. An American band of friends. A night full of dancing. And post-wedding flower and Bacchus crowns.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png

———————————————————————————————————-

We were the first ones at the villa and the owner Paul gave us a complimentary bottle of the vineyards’ white wine which we sipped overlooking the hills while we waited for the bride and groom to arrive.

Attachment.png

The reception cocktail party was at Sky Bar in the Avienda Sophia hotel, which is located one block from the beach in town. Here we had great views of the city and ocean.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png


During the weekend we took a trip to the grocery store where we discovered that you can purchase canned squid, octopus, clams, mussels, etc the same way we purchase tuna in a can back home. Incredibly jealous of this.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png

Heading back we took a wrong turn and ended up on a different peak from our villa, but we completely lucked out. We got out of the car and took a mini-hike along the cliffs where we caught an skyline view of Sitges and the ocean.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png

On our last day in Sitges we drove down to the main beach and took a stroll along the boardwalk. Filled with locals haggling sneakers, bathing suits and sundresses. We stopped in Tapes Pic Nic on the beach for some grilled squid and wine, then walked in the water back towards our car.

Lisbon, Portugal

We flew TAP Portugal from Austin to Lisbon via JFK. Total trip time 15 hours plus 1 hour at customs in Lisbon, and a 45 minute subway to our hostel. We stayed at This is Lisbon hostel which is located at the very top of a hill in Alfama, the old town. Not knowing there was an elevator to get to the top we climbed thousands of stairs and through run down cobblestone streets en route to find the hostel.

Attachment.png

I chose the hostel for it’s great views of the city and it didn’t prove me wrong. We were on the peak overlooking a sea of red tile roofs and an old church.We checked in then headed out to stroll the town. No one had warned us that all of Lisbon proper is hills and most of the streets are cobblestone. Note to self that supportive sneakers are needed next time around.

Attachment.png

We walked to Time Out Market, and indoor high end food market that features up and coming Portuguese chefs. We had the Sea bass tartar from Tartar-ia that was served with an apple and beet puree, as well as a prosciutto sandwich and goat brie cheese plate from XX. A glass of nice wine was 3.5€.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png

We then walked around Baixa Chiado which is full of shops. We stopped into a church and saw a service. We walked towards Barrio Alto, stumbling onto “Pink street” on the way (literally a street painted pink) and well as Texas Bar. We went into Cheers bar (Cheers like the show) and ended up staying and chatting with the South African bartender for a while.

Attachment.png

Searching for am authentic restaurant we were lucky to find Taberna de Saudade. It was small and cave-like with a 13€ for 3 appetizer special. The food was mediocre but the atmosphere was perfect for our first dinner in Europe. After the meal we bar hoped then spent over an hour trying to find our hostel. 2 taxi’s and a 45 minute walk later to found it in the maze of the Castello neighborhood.
Monday we took the free walking tour at 11am (runs everyday) meeting at the statue of Luis de Camoes.

Attachment.png

Our tour guide Francesco was amazing and we ended up going to lunch with him after the tour and devoured whole grilled fish. We then continued the day with another tourist, from SF. We walked along the water to Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in the city that wasn’t destroyed after earthquake. Here the neighborhood is also on an incline with smaller winding roads.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png

We walked back through town, stopped at a pastry shop in the Altis Avendie Hotel for egg custards, and onwards to Miradoura lookout point by way of an incredibly long and steep street lined with graffiti art. There is a trolley that runs up and down the street but we opted for the scenic art walk. The lookout point had the best views of Lisbon we saw.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png

On the walk back to the hostel we grabbed $2 prosciutto sandwiches from As Bifanas Do Afonso, a local window shop in our neighborhood. Dinner we ate at O Piteo da Graca, a packed local spot recommended by our hostel. Grilled cuttlefish and clams cooked in garlic sauce were out highlights.

Attachment.png

Tuesday morning we took the train to Sintra, about a 45 minute ride out of town. Sintra is a very cute town that has two famous palaces and a castle.We ate lunch at A Pendoa, a very local spot hidden in town that was recommended by out your guide from the previous day. Nick tried his first Spanish burger that was served with a fried egg and without a bun over a bed of rice and fries.

Attachment.png

We then grabbed a tuk-tuk (€5 per person each way) versus the bus (€5 per person round trip) to get a better view of the scenery going up the mountain. The ride took about 15 minutes and was well worth the extra €10. We zoomed through a lush forest that has over 200 species of plants that were all brought in from overseas. We bought tickets for the Palace de Pena and its gardens.

As soon as we purchased tickets it started raining, and continued until we got back to the bottom of the mountain. We bought an umbrella from the gift shop that lasted 1 day before breaking. Seeing the Palace through the mist was an experience but we definitely missed out of seeing the vibrant yellow and orange castle with the lush green surroundings.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png
Attachment.png


We took the tuk tuk back down and went to Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa near the train station for Queijada pastry. Piriquita cafe in town has the best Travesseiro (cheese cakes) but we didn’t make it there.

Attachment.png

We took the train back to Lisbon and began our walk towards LXFactory, stopping at Time Out for another prosciutto sandwich on the way. LXFactory is a 1-block artistic hipster street full of shops, restaurants and art galleries. The side walk is adorned with graffiti art. We had drinks at 1300 Taberna, including a glass of green wine. We also tried the local caldo verde soup, a potato soup with chorizo, which was fantastic. Recommend the Atlantida IPA.

Attachment.png
Attachment.png

An Uber to Mini Bar for dinner, which was recommended by my cousins who had been a few months prior. Mini Bar is one of chef Jose Avillez’s restaurants. While more high end in pricing it is still incredibly cheap as a US tourist. We had about 10 small plates but what really stood out were the cocktail bites and the tuna and steak tartar cones. I even ordered another steak tartar cone for my dessert.

After dinner we walked right up the road to Gingha bar, which was recommended by our waitress. Here we finally tried the famous Gingha liqueur, a cherry flavor. We chatted and drank in the street outside the hole in the wall bar with a young traveling couple from Wyoming, as well as some older Brits.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started