Barcelona is the only city on my trip that I had already been to, but since I was basing my trip plans on the most popular European hostels, I decided to go again. Having been to Barcelona before you’d think I wouldn’t need much time here…. well I extended my stay to 7 nights and would have stayed longer. To my surprise I ended up falling in love with the city even more than the first time. This city is a solo traveler’s dream come true, though I owe it all to Hostel One Paralelo! The people I met at this hostel and the experiences I had made it my favourite European trip to date!
Day One – Getting Acquainted
I arrived in Barcelona feeling great and independent but I was also hesitant. I had such a great start in Berlin with my friends from university and now I was officially on my own. Was it all downhill from here? Time to call out those stupid thoughts for being, well, stupid.
I checked in, and jumped straight in the shower after a day of traveling. As I got out of the shower there were people in my room so I immediately started chatting with them. Simple as that (I’m talking to you, all you nervous soon-to-be-solo-travellers).
We were all feeling a bit peckish so off we headed for some tapas and pintxos! Hostel One Paralelo is a block away from a pedestrian road of multiple tapas bars, called Carrer de Blai. For those of you who don’t know, pintxos are like tapas but are skewered cheese, meats, etc. usually on a baguette slice. I prefer them to tapas, so yummy! And of course it’s mandatory to get a few sangrias to complement those tasty snacks!
Hostel One provides free family dinners at 9pm – sometimes Sangria included! The dinners are a great place to meet everyone at the hostel. All barriers are broken. Plus I loved every meal I was served there. Best part? You can have seconds and normally there’s enough left over for drunk food when you return from the bars!
Once dinner is over the drinking games begin. My go-to drink was a 2L of pre-made Sangria that cost less than 2€! I’d normally split it with a friend and be good to go on the pub crawl.
Hostel One also provides free pub crawls every night. You normally would start at a chill bar where free shots may be included, and then go to another bar and/or a final club.
For my first night we went to a cool bar, called Nevermind, that was set up like a skateboard park. We sat up on the side of the pipes to hangout, I felt like I was at a 90’s high school party or something. Then we headed to the Black Sheep for some more drinks. A bunch of us bailed at this bar, a bit tired from the day and saving our big club night for the next day.
You have no idea how excited I was to come home to leftover pasta!
Day Two – Main Sites & Wacky Shots
Park Guell is a place that deserves multiple visits – maybe not in one trip, but at least once a trip! We spend almost 2 hours wandering around, and I was still amazed by how beautiful the park is. This time I paid for the extended visit, where you get to take a close look at the mosaics (aka how I got the header image for this post). It was worth it if you want that famous shot or if you are a big fan of Guell, but otherwise I’d skip the extra fee. The free part has more to offer!
Again, I’d already seen Sagrada Famillia from the outside, so it was time to throw down some money and see what it looks like on the inside. I’ve got to say it’s probably my favourite church I’ve seen. So different than any other European church. It’s modern and colourful and fun. Worth the $20 … once.
This night we went to one of the coolest bars I’ve been to. It’s a shots bar called Espit Chupitos. All shots were so unique and only 2€! For example: for my favourite shot, the Boy Scout, the bartender lights the bar on fire and then you take a marshmallow on a stick and roast it until it’s on fire, then dip it in the shot, eat it, and take the shot! We went back to this bar more than once. Definitely recommend this one!
Funny side story: I’m from a tiny suburb of Ottawa. And my childhood best friend’s brother happened to be standing at the bar that night we went! Neither of us had a clue we’d both be in Barcelona. Even so, Barcelona is such a big city that the odds are so slim! Insane!
Off to the discotheque! We went to a place called Oak!. This discotheque played Spanish music and mixed in a Top 40 song every now and again. The drinks are super expensive so make sure you are set before you go! Around 2pm the most bizarre thing happens. Two of the bartenders, one guy and one girl, pick a girl and a guy to bring up on stage for …well … pretty much a lap dance with whip cream being eaten of each other’s body. I should mention that all bartenders are in extremely small bathings suits. It was an experience. Like a train wreck, you just can’t look away no matter how bad it is!
Day Three – Some Solidarity
After a lovely sleep in I woke up and my friends were all off on their adventures. This was the perfect day to do my favourite activity: biking around Barcelona. I went around the corner to Rabbit Bike and paid only 6€ for the whole day! Straight to the beach/boardwalk I went! Along the boardwalk One Dance by Drake came on and I couldn’t help but sing and dance while biking with the biggest grin on my face. Instead of heading back to the hostel I followed the major streets with bike lanes. It was a blissful day. This is an activity that is really enjoyable when you are alone – and I hate being alone!
Back to the hostel for a siesta and chilling with some friends on the terrace before dinner. The bar of the night was El Rouge. It’s close to the hostel, which was perfect because a few of us were looking to have an early night (aka home before 1am).
Day Four – Hiking & Beaching
Behind our hostel is the Montjuic Hill/Park. The view is stunning. You can see the whole city as you are walking up and then you get a great view of the harbour. If we had extra time we would have explored the Castell de Montjuïc, but instead we just walked around it. Still a beautiful hike/walk.
We rushed back from Montjuic so we could meet up with the group going to the beach. After that hike we couldn’t wait to jump in the water, no matter how cold. There were about 12 of us at the beach so we aligned our towels to sit in a circle and just enjoyed the sun and salt water.
Day Five – Learning Some History & Impulsive Decisions
My goal for the day was to explore the Gothic Quarter of the city. Since I was in no rush to start my day I chilled on the terrace with coffee for a few hours chatting with everyone about the crazy night they had the night before (that I missed out on for a good night’s sleep).
Two of my friends came across the pamphlet for the Travel Bar Free Walking Tour. Perfect! Our tour guide was the most captivating storyteller. She was from Scotland so she brought a sense of humour too! We learned a great deal of fun facts about the city (like how the Barceloneta beach is fake – they made it for when they were hosting the Olympics). I would definitely recommend this tour, but I’m sure any tour you take will be fun and insightful! The Travel Bar also had a great deal on tapas so the three of us ran inside after the tour to stuff our faces and drink Sangria!
Back to El Rouge! After some free shots and a Rouge Cocktail (a MUST buy – it’s a delicious grapefruit cocktail), I decided I was skipping my un-refundable $120 train to Madrid. I was going to extend my stay in Barcelona! This is the most impulsive decision I’ve ever made while traveling. The next morning I’d have to sort it all out before checkout and with a hangover, but I couldn’t have made a better choice!
Now this was on a Monday, so we celebrated the famous “Nasty Mondays” at the Sala Apolo. It’s a huge concert hall where they play all the songs you want to sing and dance along to; top 40 mixed with oldies-but-goodies. This was the best night! We danced until our bodies hurt and sang until our voices were lost.
I got back to the hostel and went straight to the front desk to book another night!
Day Six – Sticking Around & Sitges
We stopped at a pizzeria when we arrived and it had the slowest service! Wasting two hours of precious beach time we rushed out of there and stopped at the first beach we saw. Which happened to be a gay nude beach! Little did we know if we had walked further into the town, we would have come across a larger beach that wasn’t dedicated to nude men.
Being the immature people we are, we had a great laugh (internally of course, don’t want to be rude). Men kept walking by like they were modelling the latest penis trends on a runway. When it came time to build a sandcastle we gave up on building the castle-like structure (we had no shovels or buckets) so we made a penis “sandcastle” in honour of the lovely experience.
Day Seven – A Bittersweet Ending
For the final day we wandered around the Gothic Quarter and through La Boqueria Market, where a few of us got some fresh pressed fruit juices. Then back to Carrer de Blai for those delicious pintxos and glasses of sangria!
A lot of our friends left in the morning or the day before, but the rest of us had one last night together. We stopped at the nearby market, picked up meat, cheese, bread, drinks, etc. and headed towards the Bunker del Carmel for a sunset picnic. It couldn’t have been a more perfect. The food was delicious and who doesn’t love mimosas and sangria!? The view was absolutely stunning. We had the best set up. The sun sets on the other side of the hill so, when the time came, we packed up our food and moved not too far to watch it set. Such a beautiful night with our Barcelona family.
Parting Note – Thank You Hostel One Paralelo
This was by far the best travel experience I’ve ever had and it’s thanks to this hostel (and to the friends I made there). There are so many hilarious stories that I wish I could share here, but this post is already far too long. If you made it this far, congratulations! Now go onto HostelWorld and book your trip here!