A few years back, like way back in college, I was studying abroad in Nanjing, China.  The semester was finishing up and I needed to decide where to spend my last month of free time before flying back to America for my summer job at a tire factory. (Story for another time, perhaps.) The choices were to go backpacking in Tibet alone, my dream trip to this day, or go to Spain and stay with the Dutchman, who was interning in Barcelona at the time.

For those of you who have not had the privilege of a long distance relationship that spans the globe, it sucks. Due to limited internet access and a much different time zone, those China months were our toughest. My decision to go to Tibet or Spain was, more realistically, a choice between my adventures or my relationship. I chose love.

I went with Spain and it was wonderful. I had seen very little of Europe at the time, and I was absolutely enamored with the culture, the food, and the way Spanish women could spend a Tuesday afternoon topless at the beach- no reservations.

We were located just out of the city, with a rooftop terrace overlooking the beach two blocks away. I’d buy fresh produce from the farmer’s market and take long walks, wasting the day away, until The Dutchman returned home from work. Even now, I look back at my time in Spain with a kind of reverence. We didn’t worry about money, even though we had none. We still had awhile before graduation, plenty of time before we needed to get our act together and be grown ups. I sometimes daydream about those carefree days, and Barcelona will forever be intertwined with that period of my life. Easy. Peasy. Sangria.

barcelona beach

If this isn’t the perfect life, I don’t know what is.

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Monarch Airlines have been grilling their cabin crew, to find out what they like to do in their favorite stop-over cities. As it has been wet and dreary here in England, I have been in a Barcelona state of mind so I checked out their handy travel tips map to see what the city’s most frequent flyers recommend and compare their tips with my own favorite things to do.

Destination Travel Tips

1. Best View in Barcelona

Monarch’s Alesha recommends heading to El Corte Ingles in Placa Catalunya for chocolate churros, coffee, and amazing views of the city. (Sounds amazing!) I’d recommend a trip up to Park Güell early in the morning before the tourists arrive. Enjoy the renown Gaudi architecture with brilliant views over the entire city. Or trek to the top of the incredible Sagrada Familia church and enjoy the views from the heart of Barcelona.

Park Güell

Sitting in Park Güell, Barcelona.

The Sagrada Família

View from The Sagrada Família.

2. Best Way to Get Around Barcelona

Barcelona is a great city for walking if you are going to stay in a particular area, but is quite spread out if you are intent on exploring everything. The buses, trams and trains are easy to use, but I am going to have to agree with Monarch’s Alesha on her next tip- hop aboard a Barcelona city bus tour. I know, I know, I am always saying “Don’t waste your money on those silly bus tours, use your feet!”…but in Barcelona it actually makes sense. They stop everywhere, and you will be thankful when you are avoiding all those steep hills.

Barcelona Bus Tour

Enjoying my Barcelona Bus Tour. Sometimes you just need to let it go.

 

3. Best Place to Eat in Barcelona

I was poor during my time living in Barcelona, so we didn’t eat out much. I was perfectly content hitting up the markets and cooking at home. (Plus, who can wait until 10pm for dinner!) Monarch’s Alesha recommends Can Paxiano, a delicatessen in the Barceloneta neighborhood for all your cava and tapas needs. She recommends getting there early, as it is a popular place in the evenings. I definitely plan on checking it out the next time I am in Barcelona, but I would also recommend scourging the markets for fresh fruit and seafood. It is better on the wallet for those on a budget, but the food is amazingly delicious as well.  La Boqueria Market is a popular tourist haunt, but honestly one of my favorite food markets in the world. Take a few things to go and create your own tapas on the beach!

 La Boqueria Market

 La Boqueria Market

 

Barcelona is the most laid-back city I have visited in Europe to this day, and The Dutchman and I are way overdue for a return visit. The month I spent there changed my life, as the decision to go ended up putting my life on a path that lead to this moment. I still long to visit Tibet, and someday soon I will, but in life there are no regrets because every choice, every experience, adds to the beautiful picture of who we are and who we become.

For more travel tips from Monarch Airline’s cabin crew, check out their Travel Tips Map and get ideas for your next adventure.

 

The Dutchman

The Dutchman in Barcelona. Sigh.

 

Disclaimer: this post is in partnership with Monarch Airlines. All content, opinions, and random thoughts are my own- as always.

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