Endless Mimosas in Barcelona

In my self pity for not having a holiday-timed adventure planned, I visited my brother in Barcelona for a long weekend. Peter had taken a 3 month break from his job in order to decompress and backpack through Europe. I’d never been to this Catalonia city and justified the whirlwind trip with killer airfare via Delta and a chic (and cost-effective) Airbnb in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

I fell in love with our neighborhood. We were right by the Arco de Triunfo and the beautiful gardens of the Ciutadella Park. The narrow, cobblestone and brick streets give the area a warm, cozy feel.

Local markets made beer runs, alternative mimosas with fresh guava juice and homemade brunch possible.

I’m obsessed with exotic doors and street art. Combine the two, and I have some frame-able photos.

My brother and I stumbled upon Casa Paco, a tiny bar along Carrer d’Allada-Vermell with a sweet bartender named Cristina who happened to make the best dark & stormy we’ve ever sipped. Below the bar shots: late-night sweets from a local bakery and dried jamón hanging from the walls of a restaurant.

One new thing I learned in Spain: how the people of Catalonia drink vermouth (or “vermut”). At first we thought it was mixed with something. Nope. Just on the rocks, with an olive or two. Clockwise: REAL absinthe from Marsella off La Rambla and colorful sangria at an outdoor restaurant near our loft.

With La Rambla’s wild atmosphere, my favorite part was the exceptional outdoor market. El Mercado de la Boqueria serves up anything you imagine - fish caught early that morning, beautiful produce, dried fruit, nuts, flowers and even things you can’t recognize (above, left). We got yummy salmon steaks we broiled for dinner.

To top off the trip, we were blessed to see Barça play Sevilla AND Messi score both a hat-trick and league record. Even as a mild La Liga fan, it was hard not to get emotionally excited with the energy in the stadium.

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We scored renting our loft Airbnb in the gothic quarter for a total of just over $600. The space comfortably slept 4 adults. After exploring the city over the long weekend, I confirmed that an Airbnb home base in this neighborhood was what I’d do next time, should I return.

Recreate the Catalan “vermut” for under a dollar a drink with either Martini & Rossi’s bianco or rosso vermouths, depending on your taste preference, served over ice. ($6.99 and $12.99, respectively, for the BevMo crew). Throw a quality olive in, and voilà!