Ten days in Spain was not enough!
I guess I better write a blog (or three) about Spain before India completely envelopes my brain and memories. Let me start from the beginning. I decided around May that I would go to India to do my yoga teacher training. After doing days of research it was actually cheaper to fly there and do it than it was anywhere else in the world (and I really wanted to leave the US as an excuse to travel). With it being the birthplace of yoga and all it seemed fitting to go there. I found a program that spoke to me, Trimurti, and signed up even though I was a bit scared to go to India. More on those fears in a later post.
My retreat in Mexico was scheduled right after the training so I didn’t have the option to travel around after. I decided to make a pit stop on the way to India and chose Spain for that destination after a bit more research (I really wanted to go to Greece but everyone I knew discouraged that). It was only $350 more on my flight to take a little detour. I decided on 10 days, split between Barcelona and Madrid. Moving around a lot doesn’t usually appeal to me so this seemed like a good pace.
Let’s start in Barcelona (which after starting this blog post I realized would need two!). Many of my friends have said this is one of their favorite places in the world so it had quite a bit to live up to. I flew Lufthansa for the first time mainly because it was the cheapest flight. They make you layover in Frankfurt and this is seriously the most annoying airport I’ve ever experienced. You had to walk forever to get to a toilet. It’s like Germans didn’t ever have to pee. Also both times we landed our plane was parked off to the side and we had to take a shuttle bus to the gate. This coupled with a mediocre vegan meal will keep me from ever flying Lufthansa again. Maybe I’m a spoiled American, but I’ve flown on other airlines with more leg room, better service, and better meals.
I arrived at 1 pm bright-eyed and ready to settle into my hostel. A few days earlier my sleep schedule was moved a bit to get on Barcelona’s time zone. I always do this for out-of-country travel so I don’t waste any time with jet lag. I unpacked my things and then hit the streets.
Barcelona is very touristy. If you plan to visit I would suggest trying to figure out when the slower times are because it is very crowded in September. Maybe it’s always like this but I’m not a fan of huge crowds. Since I missed the walking tour I opted just to walk all over on my own. Barcelona has tiny little streets that you can get lost amongst. That’s half the fun of new cities to me. Walking around, exploring, and eating vegan food of course! There wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t walking for miles. And each day I stumbled upon new vegetarian restaurants. Score!
Because of HappyCow I know where all the veg restaurants are whenever I travel and they are plentiful in Barcelona. Normally I would make many of my meals in (one of the main reasons for staying in a hostel is they have a kitchen, not only less expensive and best for solo travelers) but I literally ate every single meal out in Barcelona because there were so many restaurants to choose from. This is a great problem to have as a vegan!!
I decided to have my first meal at BioCenter. When I turned up around 6 pm there was only one other couple there. Spaniards do things a little different with lunch around 2 pm and dinner sometimes later than 9 pm. That’s cool though; I didn’t mind being in an empty restaurant!
I decided on the seitan in white wine sauce, which came with a side of couscous and I ordered extra veggies. It was so comforting and the seitan just melted in my mouth. Not bad for my first meal in Barcelona!
The next day I hit the free walking tour and learned all about the history of Barcelona. I had no idea it was so turbulent! My tour guide was a bit political and a pagan so it was an interesting morning. For lunch I searched for a restaurant I found on HappyCow but it was closed for the day. I had stumbled upon La Vegetalia the day before and our tour ended right nearby so I headed there for the set lunch menu (10 Euro). It was simple but filling. Gazpacho was first, then a vegan burger served with salad and rice for the main, ending with a mini fruit smoothie.
Pro tip: if you are going to eat out in Spain do so for lunch. Every restaurant has a pre-fix three or four course menu for way cheaper than you would pay ordering a la carte.
That evening my holiday got so much better. When I decided to go to Spain Marissa from Vegan and Beyond emailed me to let me know she and her brother would be there at the same time. I was thrilled to have company and someone to eat more vegan food with! We met up for dinner and started the night with a pitcher of sangria. Sidenote: I rarely drink (and neither does Marissa). Maybe once every couple of months. It’s a social thing for me. But I drank quite a bit while in Barcelona. No shame here. When in Spain!! Their drinks were incredible. The best sangria, mojito (I didn’t even like them before I came here), and gin/tonic I’ve ever had in my life.
Then we headed for the famed Teresa Carles, an upscale vegetarian restaurant with other varying locations and a juice pressery. Marissa and I both took full advantage of the cold-pressed juices available and they were probably the best juice combinations I’ve ever had. The tempeh and pumpkin salad pictured above is probably the best salad I’ve ever had at a restaurants. We also had nachos and tempura. Teresa’s is a bit more expensive but totally worth it. With sharing and no drink my bill only came to about 15 Euro so it is possible to keep your budget in check and still enjoy the finer vegan restaurants.
Of course we had to go for gelato at Gelaaati di Marco who had two rice milk gelatos (dark chocolate and hazelnut) along with 5 or so fruit sorbets. We subsequently went here the next two nights Marissa was in town. It was hella good.
The next day I grabbed takeout from Vegetart, which was inexpensive and filling. I met up with Marissa to head to Cat Bar in the evening. Everyone said it was a must. I thought there might be actual cats there but alas there was only drawings of cats on the walls. It’s a little hole in the wall with vegan burgers and beers on tap. The food was very salty and left us with tummy aches. Kind of overhyped if you ask me, but the beer was good!
Then we headed out on the town! We planned on hitting up an indie, post punk club called Sidecar that evening, but it wasn’t set to open till 1 am. Yes, bars stay open till 6 am in Spain!! It is literally the country that never sleeps. So we walked around, got gelato, and had drinks at various places before dancing the night away. When I left at 3:30 am it was just getting crowded!
The next day I slept in and then headed out on a mission to find vegan brunch. I stumbled upon DosTrece on one of my many strolls around town and it answered the call with daily vegan brunch food. I got the french toast and a side of tofu scramble. I was wanting something familiar and this hit the spot.
Stay tuned to Barcelona Part II!