First of all, how did it become a group trip?
So, I mean, you all know by now that I live and die by flight deals. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to visit Barcelona soon, but I was just waiting for the right deal. Cut to February 2019, and a Barcelona flight deal sauntered down my Twitter newsfeed. That’s all I needed to see before I started looking for dates that would work for my schedule. I was planning to go solo, and then possibly meet new friends while over there…which I’ve done many times before. But, I decided to text a couple friends to see if they’d be interested. The first few showed interest, but then waited too long to confirm. Everybody knows that doesn’t work for me. I waited for them, though, and the prices went up that evening. I was pissed at myself because I know better than to wait for others’ decisions before booking a flight. However, I played with the dates and found the same deal. I then texted my friend, Faith, late that night and asked her if she was interested before I booked. She was out in the streets, and immediately told me, “yes,” and to book it for her and she’d Cash App me the money (I already have her travel info since we’ve traveled together before - see my posts about Thailand). I immediately booked our tickets.
The next morning, I saw that the deal was still available, and asked Faith if we should also invite the Moores (two of our closest friends in NYC). She said, “Yeah…but I doubt they’ll commit to coming.” I knew why she was skeptical, LOL, however, I gave it a chance. I texted Darrell and Chrissy and asked them if they were interested. Chrissy immediately FaceTimed me and asked for deets. Then they sent me all their info to book their tickets. Booked! I was thinking to myself, “Gary, you do not like group trips. What are you doing, bruh?” But I figured four people wouldn’t be a problem. That afternoon, as I was heading to SoulCycle, I noticed Faith and Chrissy both posted in their IG stories that they were going to Barcelona with me. I side-eyed a little bit but let them live, LOL. Next thing I know the trip jumped to seven people! Diana and Tony, a dope couple I hung out with a few years ago in The Hamptons, asked Chrissy if they could join! Also, our friend, Shev, hit me up to book her ticket for her! Done!
A couple days before the trip, Keenan booked a ticket separately and met us over in Barcelona!
So…that’s the group! We spent a couple months planning the details of the trip in a group chat. Shout out to everyone having an iPhone so we didn’t have to use any random web-based apps to communicate. We kind of just bounced ideas off one another for the most part, and I didn’t put an actual itinerary together until a week before the trip. I didn’t build out a strict schedule or anything. It was more so for us to have all of our flight and lodging info in one place and to note the things we wanted to accomplish in Barcelona while there.
Where did we stay?
The living space
Because there was a large (well…large in my definition) number of us but a mix of couples and those who wanted some solitude, I decided it’d be best to book an Airbnb with enough bedrooms to give every person/couple their own space. We decided on a nice spacious apartment in the middle of the city. The bedrooms were comfortable but the major win for this place were the common areas. The living room, dining area, kitchen and private terrace won us all over! Note: Some of my friends kept mentioning utilizing the kitchen and cooking a meal. When they think back, I’m sure they will remember me smiling and shrugging it off each time. I ain’t fly to Spain to be cooking or eating my fellow Americans’ regular ass eggs, french toast, and/or barbecue LOL. Anyway, as I predicted, this never happened. Sometimes you just gotta let your friends be great and talk aloud.
When I picked the spot, I had no clue how convenient the area was going to be. We were able to walk to most of the places we wanted to visit during the days. The apartment was located right next to downtown, the famous street, Las Ramblas, and a number of food spots we wanted to try out. When something wasn’t walking distance, we were able to easily hop in a cab and go where we desired. #ProTip: There is no Uber in Spain. It’d be best to pull up where you want to go using the map apps on your phone, and then show the cab drivers.
What did we do?
*looks back at itinerary*
Outside of eating, we did a lot of walking around and exploring, whether it was as a group or separately. However, let me list some of the notable things we did as a group:
Camp Nou stadium
The famous soccer stadium! Yup, we went! Did we pay 30€ for a tour? Nope! We’re not into soccer like that. We purchased some soccer gear, had some sangria at one of the shops on the outside and moved along. But we were there! LOL.
Walked Las Ramblas
This is a famous street where you can find a lot of shops, food, bars…and a lot of annoying promoters trying to get you to come in their club (especially at night). It’s like a junior varsity version of Times Square. So, just be patient as you’re walking through.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
This is a must if you’re in Barcelona. Pay the 20€ and go inside! You can either buy a timed entry ticket online, or go first thing in the morning to enter before the crowds arrive. Either way, it’s breathtaking inside and something you do not want to miss.
Dinner at The Gatsby
In the mood for dinner at a ritzy place with a show? Check out The Gatsby. You’ll need to make reservations. It’s very reminiscent of a dinner cruise, where there are performers to provide performance intermissions during your dinner (dancing and singing). It’s not the cheapest place to dine, but not super expensive either.
One night when we all had energy, we headed to CDLC Barcelona to party. We were greeted as soon as we got out of our cabs with free passes for entry and welcome glasses of champagne. The music was pretty good and we were right on the beach. It’s definitely a place to check out if you want to dance. I was kind of irritated that half of the space was roped off for VIP, though.
Primavera Sound Festival
On our final night in Barcelona, we hit up the Primavera Sound festival that just so happened to be in Barcelona while we were there! We paid 80€ online to purchase our ticket for the night, got there around 11PM (yup…the festival goes from about 8PM to 6AM) and was able to catch Erykah Badu and Future performing. We had just missed Nas. I will say that this was probably the most organized and spacious festival I’ve ever attended. If we were in Barcelona for just a little while longer, I would have opted to go back each night and really taken full advantage of what they had to offer.
Damon also happened to be in Barcelona traveling with another group, so he met us and hung for the night.
What did we eat?
Sangria and paella…period! LOL! Well, more than that, but still…
#ProTip: Oftentimes when you approach the hosts of these restaurants, they will tell you they have no available seats and that they are all booked for the day/evening (I’m not sure if this is something that happens often but, it happened to us a few times…). Be persistent. Say that you’ll wait for the first available, or if you have a large group, be willing to split up. They will accommodate.
We found out that most people eat paella on Thursdays because that’s when the fresh seafood comes in. We waited until then to indulge and it was definitely worth it!
Before then, though, we tried tapas, which is another thing Barcelona is known for. On night one after a full day of travel, we had dinner at Tapas 24. I don’t know if it was because we were all tired and hadn’t eaten a full meal in 24 hours or not, but uh…most of us were not fans. Tapas 24 actually was my least favorite restaurant of the trip. However, if you like tapas, this may be your thing.
After that non-filling meal, we walked Las Ramblas to find dessert. We ended up stopping at some random spot for churros. Traaaaash! All churros are not created equal. LOL! More on that later.
So what did we do after that? Continue to walk the strip for more food, of course. We came across a great gelato stand and every single one of us who were out ended up getting more dessert! We were finally content for the night,
Our apartment was right next to Brunch & Cake, a very popular breakfast spot in Barcelona. Some of us woke up on Day 2 of the trip, got in line and had a very colorful meal, there. The food was good and rich but it should definitely be noted this [in my opinion] this is an “Instagram food” place. You can tell that the dishes were meant to be photographed. Still a dope restaurant, though.
We then went to the Boqueria Market to walk around. My one regret is that we were already full when we got there. This is most definitely a place you should go with an appetite. There’s so much food (savory and sweet) to pick up as you’re walking around. We did get a couple things to munch on, however, I was simply content with walking around and taking in all of the scenery and beauty of all the food being offered. Sounds fat, right? IDC IDC!
The first time we had it was at Xiringuito Escriba, right on the beach! Highly recommended!! Specifically, we had the Valencian paella which had chicken and peppers. Not to mention the damn good sangria was there. We got the red sangria, white sangria and the cava sangria! LOL
One place I was told ahead of time to visit at least once was El Nacional. This is a huge restaurant with four different areas where you can be seated and try different types of cuisines. There was a pasta area, steakhouse, and seafood corner…not to mention the huge bar area located right in the middle. The food was okay, but the sangria was on point and the scenery was just super dope. I wish I would have gone back and dined one more time before leaving.
My favorite restaurant of the trip had to have been Terraza Martínez. The restaurant came recommended by one of Faith’s friends and I’m glad she listened to them. The only thing that matched the delicious sangria was the ambiance of the restaurant and the awesome views of Barcelona’s waterfront. If you can only choose one place to dine out while in Barcelona, this should be the spot. The paella was probably our favorite, and we had pitcher after pitcher of sangria sent to the table (we can blame Chrissy for that, but I wasn’t complaining). If there’s a wait, endure it! Go outside and enjoy the views of the city and the garden while you wait for your table. After your meal, I recommend taking the cablecar down over the water and to the beach. It was about 11€ one way. Do it!
Okay now let’s get to the important stuff…the got damn CHURROS AND CHOCOLATE! I was most excited about this, and my friends knew it. I was determined to indulge whether they liked it or not…with or without them! LOL. *I’m picturing Faith turning up her nose and saying, “I don’t want churros” and me responding with Shannon Sharpe’s ‘THAT AIN’T NO PROBLEM’ as I walked out the door without any plans to invite anyone anyway LOL!* As I said early in this blog post…ALL CHURROS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL! The mistake we made the first night was that we went to a random restaurant and just assumed they’d serve some good churros. We were wrong. I saw the cooks put frozen churros in the oil and fry them. That’s how I knew they weren’t the right spot! I ain’t travel across the world for no damn frozen churros! if you want good churros, make sure you go to a spot that focuses mainly on churros (most likely any place with “Xurreria” in the name). There are two places I went…one time with my boy Darrell who was as equally excited as I, and the other location I visited alone *whispers* and then again on our final morning with Tony and Diana. Xurreria Trebol and Xurreria Laietana.
Aside from what I mentioned here, we pretty much all did our own thing for breakfast during our individual walks and time apart from one another. I’d head places to sit and have coffee or other pastries, and a couple times we brought baguettes back to the apartment to have with meat and cheese while lounging.
So why was this a dope group to travel with?
As I mentioned before, for the most part I am not a fan of group travel. However, the way our group operated in Barcelona worked perfectly for me. First of all, we all liked each other! LOL! We made sure to have a great time, and kept our attitudes positive for the most part. If one of us were getting a little annoyed or attitudinal, we jokingly called each other out on it. Because we all had phone service while there, it was easy for us to separate from time to time and not worry about getting lost or not being able to contact one another. Those solo morning walks really helped to get my days started right.
One major win was that none of us had a problem splitting our tabs equally! Itemizing bills for large parties can be a huge headache and it’s actually one of my pet peeves (unless someone is just consuming way more than everyone else). Most of the time, we all threw our cards/cash down to pay, or one person would pay and then be reimbursed via Venmo or Cash app (Note: If your friends don’t have either of these apps, make them download one of them before traveling with you. It makes things a LOT easier, trust me).