the setting abroad: 48 hours in barcelona

To celebrate the first story for our new The Setting Abroad series, our food & travel contributor Gheanna Emelia writes about her whirlwind 48 hours in Barcelona, Spain…

I made a 48 hour pit stop in Barcelona and could have stayed for twice as long…  The city’s relaxed feel and Mediterranean touch made it my favorite stop of my European trip… With that said, learn from me and stay longer. It was the most I could squeeze in on this trip and I’m glad I made it, but Barcelona deserves at least four days to take in everything it has to offer.

Let’s start with their world famous siesta, that brief pause (well, more like two hour break) between lunch and that last stretch of your work day. Unofficial shelving of the practice or not, the sentiment of appreciating—respecting, rather—your down time and being in the moment is still strong. (And I mean respecting your free time—as a hustling New Yorker, I know that notion can be hard to understand. But that email can wait. Really.)

Below are a few of my favorite spots I discovered in Barcelona. There were plenty of places on my list I didn’t get to (somebody please, please go to El Quim de la Boqueria!), but that just means I’ll need to go back…soon!

Satan’s Coffee Corner feels like a cafe you’d find in LA’s Silver Lake or the Lower East Side of New York. It’s got that laid back vibe with familiar menu items like chia pudding, pour over coffee, and toast tucked under a mountain of ricotta and fresh produce. Staying true to their Spanish roots, they also offer a Full Catalan Breakfast: egg your way, sausage, white beans, roasted tomato and a hefty, palm sized piece of toast.

My real priorities were the tapas and natural wine, which led me to L’Anima del Vi, a small wine bar in El Born. The menu is scribbled on a small, cracked chalkboard the Parisian owner hands you when you walk up to the bar. The biggest dish he’ll offer is likely burrata or mussels conservas, and it may take a while for them to get to you, since he’s running the place completely on his own. But what’s the rush? You’re in Barcelona!

For wine by the glass, choose from the selection of reds he displays on the counter—for whites, he’ll pull the bottles out from his fridge one by one, and explain them individually. If you want a bottle, choose from the selection he has along his wall, placed charmingly in wine crates.  This is the kind of bar that comes to mind when you think of your idyllic Barcelona tapas bar, but with the added bonus of offering amazing natural wines.

If you’re the sightseeing type, you can’t miss the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion. Check ahead of time if they have open days—it’s not costly, but it’s always a bonus to get into museums and other cultural institutions for free. 

Before I left for this two week Eurotrip, a friend told me to “live my best life”… I think I learned how to do that a little bit better from my stay in Barcelona. The food and wine were some of the best I’ve ever had and the slower paced life has given me added inspiration to apply that sentiment to when I’m home.

I look forward to making my way back there but the memories made will help me to remember the importance of creating time for your own siesta, however brief, to bring happiness and lightness to every day.

The Setting