My second visitor of the month came this week and with that came - yep, you guessed it - more TRAVEL. What was supposed to be a chill few days in Valencia, followed by two quick trips to Madrid and Barcelona, turned into, "Why don't we rent a car and drive to wine country because it sounds like that's what all of my hopes and dreams are made of?" After confirming with Torry (my friend who was visiting), we did just that.
This week I:
- took a train to Barcelona to meet Torry and to pick up our rental car! Or should I say...MISSED my train to Barcelona. A minor set back of two minutes caused me to miss the train - I went to the wrong station and quickly corrected myself, but I was two minutes too late - plus it was 6 AM and the lady was NOT having it. I watched it slowly trudge away as I pleaded to the lady in broken Spanish that IT WAS RIGHT THERE PLEASE. No go. I bought another ticket and sat in the cafe where I actually got a ton of work done, which was unexpected but welcomed. Also, the views didn't suck. What did suck? I spent double the amount on a train ticket same day as I did for the original. C'est la vie.
- rented a car and drove to Logrono, a central city in the Rioja valley (WINE COUNTRYYYY). It was a Tuesday night so there wasn't exactly anything hopping, but we had some work to do before the night started anyways. We got to our AirBnB where we learned that we'd be sharing a bathroom with a cat. Our host also had an 8x10 framed photo of herself in her own apartment. Next to a framed photo of her cat. His name was Dali...ANYWAY...after settling into our awkward AirBnB (I should seriously start a blog solely dedicated to my experiences in AirBnBs), we ventured out for tapas on famous Laurel street. This was the only photo I got, but it was fun.
- woke up semi early, got a coffee, and hit the road to Haro, 30 minutes away. The central town of wine tasting, I picked this place because it has wineries lined up throughout the city that you can walk to. Things got a bit...out of hand here. Not all because of us, either. After getting to our second AirBnB (which was actually a cool little studio apartment and not shared with a feline) and managing to figure out the parking ticket situation thanks to the nice man who was about to give us a ticket and the fact that Torry was standing there with blonde hair and pretty eyes, we (finally) headed out early to tour wineries and imbibe.
Did we venture out before eating a substantial lunch? Maybe. Did we drink too much wine and then possibly sleep through dinner? I'll let you guess.
- visited our first...then second...then third...then fourth...then FIFTH winery, which most of the time, we had entirely to ourselves. A Thursday in Haro in January isn't quite the party you'd image - which made it all the better for us.
- took a taxi (even though we could've walked) back to our AirBnB and decided to take a quick nap until 9ish (it was 6:30) where we would then go to dinner. (A place that was recommended and actually looked really good.)
- slept. And slept. And slept more. And woke up at 1 AM hungover and STARVING. Again, did we not eat enough before we went and assume that we could possibly find lunch which winery hopping? MAYBE. Did we ever find food other than crackers given to us free of charge? MAYBE NOT. Did we stuff our pockets with said crackers and eat them until we realized we had no more food. YES, IT IS POSSIBLE.
- stumbled out at 1 AM to find food (and water) because we had neither. Nor did we realize that the town we were in was dead. We walked into a bar with 14 men inside who all just stared at us as we opened the door. After asking if there were any restaurants around, we were pointed to the kebab restaurant across the street - CLOSED.
When the kebab place is closed, you know you're shit out of luck.
- went into another bar where we were told that there was a sandwich place in the city center - thank god! We walked the five minutes over there only to discover that it was a vending machine with hot sandwiches. Of course. The most logical answer. We sighed, pouted, realized we had no change even if we DID want a steamy vending machine sandwich, and walked back to our bed where all we could really do was sleep again.
- woke up shaking due to hunger and alcohol and high tailed it to the nearest cafe. Ordered what looked like a normal tortilla (an egg dish with potato) but it turned out to be filled with MAYO AND TUNA. The last thing you want the morning after drinking 18 bottles of wine is definitely this, right? Gagged a little but ate it because we were so desperate.
- hit the road to MADRID! Drove on a mountain and also hit snow, which was unexpected. Cray. (No pic because I was driving so...)
- made it to Madrid where our first stop was questionable sushi. Why? Because we're stupid. That's why.
- passed this place in Madrid and thought, wow, this feels homey.
- Met the group and went out for tapas and wine before hitting some weird bars and nightclubs. Legs for days and more weird photos of Sami (and Bill/Nick).
- did some exploring and found a rooftop, of course.
- had more tapas, OF COURSE.
- did more exploring, found a baby in a bar that Torry wanted to kidnap, went to Crystal Palace and the most famous park in Barcelona, Buen Retiro, AND had ramen, which, minus one key component (person), was very very very good.
- went to bed pretty early and woke up to a lazy morning. We got a coffee and headed to the train station, where we were told it would be "super easy to get to the airport". It was a little tougher than we thought, but with the help of my broken Spanish and a nice man that we followed on the train, we BARELY made it for our flight. It ended up leaving 45 minutes late anyways sooo...
- arrived back in Barcelona to yet another weird AirBnB. #weirdairbnbs This one was a French man who originally scared us a bit when he asked Torry if we wanted to "share a bottle of sparkling wine once we got to his apartment". Uh. That's not normal. Regardless, we went, half expecting to be courted by some old French man, but were surprisingly greeted by his French girlfriend at the door. Even weirder? We got in and they both offered us sparkling wine - which was great. We then awkwardly sat in their (super nice, btw) Japanese style loft living room. After booking tickets for Sagrada Familia the next day, we sat in our room working, directly across from them as they stared at us. And smoked a lot of weed. In their living room. While staring at us. We then got so creeped out that we decided to bounce for dinner. And so we did.
- went to a dinner at this place that only had a bunch of dudes. Torry was one of our waiter's "dream girls" and they made googly eyes at each other all night. (no photos but plz believe, this is real.)
- checked out a cool bar in which the bartender made us several drinks that were delicious.
- headed back to our creepy airBnB to sleep where I had to take a shower (because I smelled like smoke from the bar and I couldn't deal with it) and was almost killed by the towel cabinet that came down on me in the bathroom. Good thing I'm strong?
- Woke up and headed to Sagrada Familia early - and wow. STUNNING. Definitely one of the most amazing architectural things I've ever seen. Here's a ton of pics:
- went to Park Guell and walked around a bit, followed by an awesome beer bar where I had one of the best micheladas of my life (thanks mama Cray)
- met up with AARON! Who happened to be in Barcelona too. We had drinks, then more drinks, then tapas, then more drinks. And we said we wouldn't go out but of course, we did. A little tough to get up the next morning for Torry's early flight and my early train ride, but we did it. I somehow have no photographic evidence of this, but trust me, it happened.
And thennnn I got back to Valencia just in time to explore my last week there...this includes more tapas, more wine, and more fun fun fun! Coming up: my farewell to Europe, my beginnings in Mexico, and why I voted guacamole for president #guac4prez.
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.