We hit Spain down and dirty in 9 days in July of 2012: 3 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Ibiza, 3 days in Madrid including travel. It was a lot of moving around, but if you’re in your 20s and up to it, you really can get the highlights checked at most European cities in a couple days if you’re willing to haul ass. Here are some of our favorite things from the trip:
Barcelona (Saturday afternoon to Tuesday):
We stayed in a hole in the wall… like we + our suitcases + two twin beds barely fit. But it was on the main tourist street (Las Ramblas) so you know what? Worth it to get things done in 3 days. There are some seriously amazing things to see in Barcelona:
Sagrada Familia: You HAVE to go here. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and started in 1882 and is STILL not done (supposed to be by about 2028). It will literally blow your mind. Pay to go inside too. The scale of it is just nuts. And you get to see renderings of how it will look when it’s done when you’re inside.
La Boqueria: It’s a huge indoor market where you can get all sorts of fruits, meat, cheese, candy, etc. It’s great to visit for a snack and lunch (or booze!) so go!
Park Guell: Also designed by Antoni Gaudi, this is another must do as the park also has panoramic views of the city. It’s also great to get souvenirs at the shops (in Gaudi’s ceramic tile style) on the way up.
The Waterfront: We walked to the end of Las Ramblas one night and the city has a beautiful waterfront. It’s a great place to go for dinner, here are a few restaurant recommendations.
Palau Guell (Guell Palace): If you’re not already tired of Gaudi at this point (you shouldn’t be!), this is a super cool museum and is located right on Las Ramblas. The rooftop is pretty insane: it’s all the Gaudi mosaic sculpture without the trek all the way to Park Guell.
U.S. Olympic Trials Basketball game: this obviously isn’t going to repeat as the trials for the Olympics just happened to be in Madrid while we were there, but it was super fun (and cheap!) to attend. We would recommend if you’re in an Olympic trials city while they are happening.
Ibiza (Tuesday afternoon to Thursday):
We stayed in what we can only assume is a quintessential party hotel in Ibiza, Apartments Bora Bora: no frills, party on the beach the entire day and decent showers/beds. It was cheap (if you didn’t get the trend yet, we were on a budget)… we can’t say you’ll love it.
In Ibiza, we basically lounged on the beach all day (Truett got a lovely sunburn due to Irish genes, Ashley turned annoyingly golden brown due to Croatian genes.. Can you tell who wrote this?). We hit a different club each night.*
1st night club: Amnesia. We were a bit bummed because we initially bought tickets to see Skrillex here (yes people, it was 2012). But Axwell ended up headlining and it ended up being amazing. You don’t realize until you go to a real ass club in Ibiza that clubs can actually DO crazy stuff rather than you just existing in them. This club had amazing waves of cool steam air that surged throughout the entire space every 20 minutes (particularly amazing because people are allowed to smoke inside, plus it’s a million degrees). Then, these light sticks came down from the ceiling in various patterns.. And fire blew of the DJ booth… We were dead sober (Ashley doesn’t drink and I was saving money) and had one of the best dancing nights of our lives.
2nd night club: Pacha. It’s hard to have not seen the Pacha cherries logo in your lifetime… the place is a legend and has other outposts around the world. And you know what, the club was hella fun. We thought the layout was a bit funny in terms of finding a place to actually dance, but we still had a great time.
Madrid (Thursday Night to Sunday):
We stayed in the Roommate Hotel Madrid, which we LOVED and would recommend to anyone. It’s a low priced hotel that’s also a chain in Europe. It was adorable, super trendy and surprisingly large and nice for the size. To this day when we get their sales emails we are tempted to immediately book a trip.
We were pretty exhausted at this point from being major tourists in Barcelona and then staying up all night in Ibiza so we took it pretty easy in Madrid.
We can’t lie, we ate in the Tapas bar in the lobby of our hotel twice and have zero shame about it (it was so good). We basically just walked around the city for two days, we know we passed the big palaces and government buildings, but at that point we were on no agenda… which, honestly, is an awesome way to see a city.
The one thing you cannot miss is the churros at Chocolateria San Gines. They are famous for a reason, it’s the type of place that has a picture of every Spanish celebrity you can possibly think of eating there on the walls. Seriously. Go. Binge. Have no shame.
Truett stayed longer than Ashley on Sunday and went to the Rastro Flea Market which was awesome. A flea market is one of the best things to visit in any city.
All in all, go to Spain!! If you’re not already convinced, this Buzzfeed article today has AMAZING photos to prove our points above.