Madrid, Spain

The start of my excursion Madrid was a rocky one. Wendy and I arrived to Spain's capital sleep-deprived, hungry and kind of grimy from not showering in a while due to a small, undisclosed travel mishap. In short- I was in a bad mood. However, every negative feeling I had coming into the city disappeared as we walked around getting a feel for the different energy of Madrid from Barcelona. To me, Madrid felt a bit like San Francisco with its hilly terrain and quirky shops and art scene around each corner. Madrid has a plethora of museums boasting some of the world's most famous works of art (hi, Guernica!) and many of these museums are free on certain days! The city didn't feel overrun by tourists, which can often be the case in Barcelona, but felt balanced out by the numerous Spanish families and friends sitting at cafes or sunbathing in the park. I was especially inspired by the confident, stylish women on the street which may or may not have been the inspiration to buy new sandals. As usual, Madrid stole my heart with its food scene and I probably could have eaten my weight in churros. Below are my favorite eateries from my first and definitely not last trip in Madrid. 

Chocolateria San Gines

This snack time hotspot is a hit for both tourists and locals in search of beautifully crispy churros with thick chocolate sauce. Open 24 hours a day, simply order at the counter, hand your receipt to a server and take a seat at one of the sleek marble tables inside. You won't wait long for your hot churros to appear before you and it won't take you long to gobble them down. Extra chocolate sauce at the end? Slurp it down, chocolate lovers. 

La Mallorquina

Located on the busy Placa Puerto del Sol, this windows of this bakery are neatly lined with pastries galore. Step inside and find the same pastries lined in glass cases with prices clearly marked. To the left were a variety of confectionary sweets and to the right were the pastries and other baked goods. I felt like such a local perched next to a pack of Spanish grandmas clucking away over slices of cake and businessmen slurping down their coffees as we all stood at the counter. 

Rosi La Loca

How could I possibly turn down a three-course meal and drink for 13 euros?? This adorably quirky restaurant hit the spot after a long day of shopping and wandering. First course was a bed of lush springy leaves dressed in a sweet raspberry vinaigrette. Atop this salad was a savory helping of  warm goat cheese. This delicious salad was followed by hearty slices of veal. For dessert, I chose a strong americano while Wendy ate the sweet flan. 

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the city that brings me so much joy and will continue to be that place due to the vibrant art scene, delicious food and generously kind locals. Barcelona, like many Spanish towns, eats late, like, 10pm. For someone who normally falls asleep by 10pm, it was a surprisingly easy transition to eating and hanging out late. Now, I could have had a ball just by myself in a busy town, but one of my close girlfriends from college also came along. She was the one, in fact, who convinced us to go to Spain to begin with! Wendy and I had traveled together in the past during our study abroad days, and this trip completely validated our friendship and our ability to travel as a pair.

There aren't as many pictures as I would have liked here because I was so hungry that I often forgot to take a quick snapshot! Whether we found them on Yelp or we discovered them as famished travelers, each venue had a different vibe and  Below are some of my picks from my quick trip to Barcelona. 

Tosca

Yelp suggested this tapas place for us and was a great place to rest at the end of our first day in Barcelona. Wendy loved this place so much actually, that we visited this place a second time for lunch. This second time was even better than before, because we arrived during a lunch special for only 13 euros. We chose three different tapas each, a drink and dessert. Our small table was full of dishes like a refreshing chef's salad, patatas bravas, pork loin, and risotto. It almost-but only almost- felt like we were stealing from them with the amount of food we ate. Is it bad that we 

El Nacional

This former parking garage has transformed into a gorgeous food hall. The walls are lined by a variety of different restaurants, while the middle of the building is occupied by a gelateria and a sprawling bar. We got in line for a restaurant called La Taperia because Wendy claimed "if there is a line, it must be good!" She was so right. I couldn't have been more pleased with our last night. La Taperia is a little different that the other tapas places we had visited throughout our trip. A set of tapas could be ordered immediately once we were seated, but the standard tapas dishes such as paella, mussels or patatas bravas were brought out by servers on trays. Customers would see what they would want to eat and would flag down the server. 

Also just as a side note, the bathroom is worth visiting too just to see all of the mirrors and clean white tiles! 

Tast a la Rambla

La Rambla is one of the main boulevards of the city, a constant hub of street peddlers trying to sell you annoying trinkets and subpar cafes. Really selling this area to you right now, huh? ;) Tast a la Rambla was an outdoor food and drink festival at the end of La Rambla, across from Placa del Portal de la Pau. Every booth featured little bites from various restaurants throughout the city. To make it easier on the vendors, there was a ticket system with one ticket at 1 euro. Each small tapas generally cost 4 tickets each, with wine and cocktails costing 4- 4.5 tickets. 

Satan's Coffee Corner

This little corner is actually one of my favorite coffee places during our whole trip, and honestly, one of my favorites in the whole world. This coffee shop hosts a very trendy crowd, with small cliques of art students scattered around the cafe. Huge windows encasing the cafe brought in beautiful light and was a great place to people watch. The standard location that tends to pop up on Instagram a lot is attached to Casa Bonay, another supremely peaceful and trendy hotel and lounge area (which I can geek out about another time because it was sooooo nice!!!). 

Satan's was more than just an aesthetically pleasing, hip place for the cool kids. I had a cortado at both locations and it was deliciously rich and crisp. The pluot galette was sprinkled with green sugar and gave a great crunch to the delicately soft pluots. Wendy and I also shared a raspberry glazed doughnut sprinkled with crunchy bits of pistachio. Needless to say, we had our fill of pastries by the end of breakfast from all of the beautifully crafted pastries.