Fun Fact: Granada means “pomegranate” or “grenade” and while I didn’t see either while I was in Granada, it was still quite the adventure. Granada is a hippie central and for that reason I loved it. It reminded me so much of my beach town at home in San Diego. There are many people called “perro-flautas” which are hippie/wanderers that have a dog (perro) and play a flute (flauta). Our teacher flirted with a few of them and bribed them with beer to tour us around the alternative side of Granada.
Darling white washed houses and traditional Spanish roofing tiles abound. The graffiti is colorful and inspiring. The vibe of the city is a positive one and it’s just so sunny! The Alhambra is breathtaking and you’ll wish you could move right into this expansive castle. Plan to spend a lot of time there as the gardens alone can take all day to explore. Granada is easily one of my favorite Spanish cities, you have to visit!
If you decide to date a Spaniard, there’s a good chance his family will cook Spanish food for you at least once a week. These are some of the dishes they will force feed you, and you won’t hate it! Pan con tomate, jamon carts, paella indoors and out, fish and more!
Tantarantana: Carrer d’En Tantarantana 24, Barcelona
The Born neighborhood is one of the best things about the city of Barcelona. This old neighborhood has charming winding streets and cute cafes and restaurants abound! One of my favorites to take visitors to is Tantarantana. It is the epitome of Barcelona’s Born neighborhood: cozy, cute and typically Spanish. It has very much of a “hole in the wall” place feel. and is housed in a 16th Century building with exposed stone walls. Great authentic vibe.
It’s a place to drink red wine from the Rioja and Catalunya and share tapas with friends. There are also many options for Gin Tonics to top off the night. Visitor’s favorite tapa is consistently the fried eggplant chunks topped with lime and honey. It’s a very different combination of flavors and is probably their best tapa dish. The jamon and pan con tomate are essentials. The “huevos estrellados” meaning “broken eggs” which are fried potatoes mixed with jamon and fried eggs, are tasty as well! The toast with sobrassada and cheese is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
This is a great tapas place to eat among locals and experience a real tapas feast when visiting Barcelona! It’s less than 15€ a person usually, excluding alcohol. It’s an affordable tapas extravaganza!
Laberint d’Horta is a garden and tropical oasis in the upper part of Barcelona. There’s even a waterfall! The gardens are located at the former estate of the Desvalls family, next to the Collserola ridge. The expansive park includes an 18th century neoclassical garden and a 19th century romantic garden. The estate construction began in 1791 and was later given to the city of Barcelona.
It’s incredible to believe that this once belonged to a single family. The labyrinth maze is fun for kids to run through as well! Here are some photos to convince you to visit!
Gaudí really went wild on this one! Parc Güell is Gaudí’s masterpiece and it now costs 8€ to enter but is completely worth it. The project was commissioned to Gaudí by Señor Güell to be a gated community for Barcelona’s wealthiest members. The park, as you will see has very few houses as the project ran out of money. It was then opened to be a public park.
The highlights of Parc Güell are two little rainbow cottages and a patio lined by curvy benches. The views over Barcelona are outstanding. Don’t miss this park!
La Balsa: Carrer de la Infanta Isabel 4, Barcelona
In the gorgeous upper part of Barcelona sits La Balsa, among the prestigious Barcelona schools and old castles. The restaurant is beautiful and the patio dining is covered quite artistically by re-purposed sails from sail boats. This interesting covering lets in tons of light yet keeps you warm. “Balsa” means in little boat or raft in Spanish.
Their diligent effort put into making the restaurant beautiful is also reflected in each plate brought to the table. Each dish was presented more beautifully than the last. When your desserts arrive you will be blown away.
Be sure to order the fish croquetas and the peppers stuffed with meat, the sauce was phenomenal. My main dish was certainly the best plate. I consisted of pieces of steak that melted in your mouth with grilled huge and tasty mushrooms. If that wasn’t beautiful enough, once the plate was served to the table the waiter poured over a hot creamy foie sauce. It was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had.
The other steak dish was lovely as well. The quality of the meat was outstanding. The tuna tataki was also tender and delicious. It came with 4 tasty maki rolls as well, and they were presented so artistically.
Now many restaurants in Barcelona serve beautiful and tasty meals, but La Balsa is different. They do not skimp on portions. You will leave full and satisfied. We’ve left many fancy restaurants in Barcelona after paying a fortune and my Spaniard complaining he is still hungry.
We luckily had a 30% discount we purchased when reserving our table via atrapalo.com. This restaurant would have otherwise been quite pricey. Including wine you will probably end up paying about 50€ per person. Definitely plan a visit for a special occasion.
Can Paixano: Carreer de la Reina Christina 7, Barcelona
Can Paixano, also known as the “La Xampanyeria” is a magical find if you’re a study abroad student in Barcelona. It’s a place all about cheap and sweet cava and day drinking. The atmosphere is welcoming an packed full of tipsy Spaniards which are the best kind of Spaniards there are when it somes up to standing up and eating. There are no tables or chairs in sight and that makes it all the more crowded and exciting.
Cava is a Catalan version of Champagne, which it is not as it’s not from France. It can be pink and sweet like the Cava Rosat or bitter and dry like the Cava Brut. You’ll fall in love with the Cava Rosat which is like a pink, sparkling glass of summer, honey and happiness!
So come in for an early lunch you can buy a bottle per food item. This is easy with a group of friends to have a generous ratio of drinks to a sandwich each. The hamburgers are great and are 3€ as are the bottles of cava. You’ll also be wanting to buy a few cava rosat bottles to go upon leaving. Which you can easily do in the back of the restaurant, just squeeze through the hoards.
You can enjoy a wonderful afternoon here for less than 15€ a person. I highly suggest taking some cava to go and walking the short distance to the beach and relaxing in the sand and enjoying a happy Barcelona day!