Spain

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Despite Berlin's solid effort to pull ahead, a whirlwind trip enabled Barcelona to maintain it's position as my favorite European city. Dominating factors include: proximity to the coast and flip-flop friendly weather in November.

Barcelona consisted of: an adventurous night out which led to 48 hours of no sleep, art galleries, a bit of shopping, catching up with Matthew (an Oregonian ex-pat who once called Naples home and is now one half of the cutest couple in Barcelona), a trip to Park Guell and eating more Vietnamese food than is socially acceptable when visiting a Spanish country. 

ANNA + BERNARDO'S WEDDING

Watching one of my best friends get married in Madrid was so surreal and so, so lovely. I can rattle off the faults of the wedding industrial complex with the best of the skeptics but this wedding was just such a gorgeous blending of families and a celebration of the sweetest bilingual pair. It may sound a bit melodramatic but it was the kind of day that gives you faith in love, marriage and kind of humanity too? Everyone was genuinely thrilled to be there with Anna and Bernardo and we all proved it by dancing til 6 AM.

 Jess, Anna and I

Jess, Anna and I

 After the official kiss and "yo quiero"

After the official kiss and "yo quiero"

The courtroom where the ceremony took place had definitely never experienced a crowd like the one Anna and Bernardo brought. People came from all of the world (India, Argentina, Thailand, the US and the locals from Madrid) and the ceremony was in both English and Spanish. I managed to tear up even during the Spanish parts when I had no idea what was being said. 

After a paella lunch with Anna's family and a mid-afternoon siesta (a tradition I wholeheartedly believe America should embrace) we ate, drank and danced ALL NIGHT. 

 +  Keep clicking the last photo for a few more shots of the day. 

COSTA BRAVA: TOSSA DE MAR

 Tossa Beach

Tossa Beach

After Barcelona I headed to Tossa de Mar, a little beach town on the Spanish coast.  The gorgeous beaches are right on Villa Vella enciente, a fortified medieval town lined with cobble stone streets and hills that provide an amazing view of the wide open Mediterranean sea. Sunning on a beach in an area that's been populated since the Neolithic period and looking up from my book to see a castle from the 14th century was pretty wild. 

+ Keep clicking the last image above for more photos.

BARCELONETA BEACH

After a delightful bike tour introduced me to Barceloneta Beach, it quickly became one of my favorite parts of the city. The man made beach was created for the '92 Olympics with it's sand straight from Egypt and the palm trees shipped over from Hawaii. The boardwalk is lined with open air bars and seafood restaurants but if you'd rather not leave your towel, Pakistani's walk the beach selling cheap cervezas and overpriced mojitos. Dance clubs are located right on the beach as well, so I enjoyed quite a few late nights/early mornings/lazy afternoons on that imported Egyptian sand. 

GRACIA BARRIO

The Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona was quiet, charming and the best area to get lost in. Between wandering in and out of boutiques, I stocked up on fudge at Çu Kor and had a nice little window-seat lunch at a La Vietnamita, a banh mi spot that played Vampire Weekend and had (much appreciated) hang-over cure drinks. 

 Fudge-makers at Çu Kor (the peanut butter fudge is on point)

Fudge-makers at Çu Kor (the peanut butter fudge is on point)

BARCELONA

Barcelona just absolutely killed it as a city. I walked around for hours just looking up and admiring the colorful surroundings. It had the perfect mix of trippy Gaudi architecture, charming Parisian-style terraces, and beautifully designed cafes and stores. 

 Casa Batilo

Casa Batilo

 Sagrada Familia 

Sagrada Familia 

The Mediterranean Hostel was perfect for meeting other travelers with it's Paella dinners, impromptu kitchen salsa lessons and nightly bar crawls. I was told I would love Barcelona but I honestly haven't had that much fun since I studied abroad. It's the kind of place where you go for an aimless run during the day and you stumble upon the most epic Museum of Art you've ever seen and eighteen hours later, you haven't slept but you've scaled a ten foot fence in order to watch the sunrise from the peak of Park Guell with a cute Australian.

+ Keep clicking the photo above for a few more.