Spain: Unique Barcelona Bars

Barcelona is a city filled with tons of hidden gems. There are hundreds of places for you to explore down the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, Raval, and even the quieter neighbourhoods like Eixample, so here are some of my favourite spots that couldn’t make it to the list of Cheapest Drinks.

Bún Bò

This colourfully decorated bar serves cheap drinksand does a big, delicious bowl of Pho for 9€!! What could be better??
Mojitos and a couple other cocktails are just 3.50€ (some of the cheapest in Barcelona!), a small beer costs 2€, and for any of you veteran South East Asia backpackers feeling nostalgic, you can get a bottle of Tiger, Asahi, or Cobra for 3.25€.  There are two locations; one in the trendy neighbourhood of Raval, and one by the Cathedral. If you’re looking for a patio, the Cathedral location has more seating.

Raval Location
Closest Metro Station: Liceu (L3) / Sant Antoni (L2)
Address: 
Carrer dels Àngels, 6, 08001 Barcelona

Cathedral Location
Closest Metro Station: Jaume (L4)
Address: Calle Sagristans, 3, 08002, Barcelona

A sign outside a restaurant advertises $3.50 cocktails. Colourful lanterns hang from the ceiling inside.
Bun Bo

First Bar

Fun cocktails, live music, and walls covered in post-it notes with messages from visitors passed, all make this a unique spot in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It’s not very big, so prepare to be sardined in with your fellow patrons, especially on weekends. Lively bartenders whip up cocktails that range from 4-9€, and Estrella is on tap at 2.50€ for a 30cl glass. Try your luck with a little bar game for a “free” drink by dropping a 1 or 2€ coin through a vase of water and landing it in the shot glass at the bottom. I say “free” because you obviously don’t get your coin back…
The bar is too small and crowded to suit a large group, so I’d suggest coming here with one or two friends, enjoying one or two drinks, and listening to one or two songs before moving on.

Closest Metro Station: Liceu (L3)
Address: Carrer d’en Rauric 9, 08002 Barcelona

Colourful post it notes are layered on the walls. "Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels not of trade, but of thought" is centred.
Leaving our mark: “Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought”

Dow Jones

The coolest part about this bar is that the drink prices fluctuate based on demand! Just like the stock market, get it?! Fosters and Amstel are usually cheapest, hovering around 4 or 5€ for a pint, but if you wait until the “stock market” crashes, you’ll get better prices! You can also enjoy live sports or play a game of pool with a Budweiser in hand. Dow Jones is perfect for any home-sick Americans out there. You’ll almost always find a bunch of rowdy English speakers at the bar, but the back room is usually a little quieter and the pool table is rarely spoken for!

Closest Metro Station: Girona (L4)/Diagonal (L5)
Address: 
Carrer del Bruc, 97, 08009 Barcelona

A tv screen lists various beer prices in red and green font - mimicking the stock exchange.
The “stock exchange”

Travel Bar

Tucked away on the corner of a charming side street in the Gothic Quarter, Travel Bar is the spot to go if you’re a trivia nerd. They host an awesome Quiz Night every Wednesday at 9pm, and the winning team takes home a free bottle of Jägermeister! This is by far the best pub quiz in the city; entry is free, the host is fun, the questions aren’t impossibly obscure, and who doesn’t love winning free booze?
Travel Bar is a cool (but very English) hangout even if you’re not into quizzes, and they have a good Happy Hour special for 4€ cocktails between 4 and 7pm. Pints cost 3€ all day.
*Protip: don’t bother with The Philharmonic’s Thursday Night Pub Quiz. It has 3€ entry, stupid questions, and no prize for the winners.

Closest Metro: Liceu (L3)
AddressCalle Boqueria 27, 08002 Barcelona

The entrance to a restaurant features chalk boards with menu items and drink specials.
About to go win a quiz!

Retruc

If you fancy yourself something of a pool shark, this is the place for you! If you don’t, and you actually suck at pool (like I do), that’s cool too! With 6 tables and relatively affordable drinks, Retruc is a prime location to crush your friends in a game, or try to acquire some skill if you have no idea what you’re doing. The tables are coin operated and each game is 1.50€, but here’s an exclusive pro tip: one table is secretly broken and works with just 0.50€! I won’t disclose which table however, just to keep the mystery alive. Don’t mention it to the bartenders and ruin it for us all. As for the drinks, I won’t lie, the prices aren’t overly competitive. Half a litre of San Miguel will run you 4.50€, but they have poooool!!

Closest Metro Station: Espanya (L1/L3)
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 399, 08015 Barcelona

A view from the corner of a pool table
Ready to play! (Photo by @tiiiiiriiiii on Instagram)

Let me know if I’ve missed out on any cool places that you’ve discovered in this amazing city!

Spain: Carnivale in Sitges 

Apart from the trip I made to Madrid and Valencia when my parents were visiting, I haven’t left Barcelona. Not once in the 6 months I’ve lived here. So this weekend we’ve decided to switch it up and go to Sitges! The town is an easy 30 minute train ride south of Barcelona, and is known for hosting a boss ass Carnivale parade.
Carnivale is totally different in Spain. It’s more like our Halloween, actually. Kids dress up and wear their costumes to school on Friday afternoon where they have a little party. Then, parades are held both Sunday and Tuesday to celebrate the beginning of lent. Never having thought too much about it, I always assumed Carnivale was a Brazilian thing. Clearly they throw the coolest party, but I’ve learned Carnivale actually originates from Venice, Italy. Somehow the tradition went from opera masks in Venice to dancing half naked in what seems to me like the most random locations around the world. What places can you think of that throw the most rad carnival parties? New Orleans, Rio, Trinidad and Tobago…even Toronto has a super fun Carnivale inspired week that we call Carabana…but it’s also in June and doesn’t seem to have much to do with lent so now I’m just hella confused. Point is, I’m going to a cool parade this weekend.

We hit up a costume store for something festive and affordable to wear. Apparently costumes are not really optional, they’re a must. We walk in without a plan or creative idea for a squad costume, which results in the boys buying old school sailor outfits, while Lindzee and I buy sequinned opera masks and feathery wrist cuffs.

Sitges is a famously gay-friendly town in Spain, which is probably why they throw such epic parties. I don’t think John and Adam understand how much they’ll be hit on and/or assumed to be a couple in their costumes. It’s going to be great.
After our Spanish lessons on Saturday morning we all meet up and head for the train. It’s pretty jam packed with people in costumes or covered in glitter, but we manage to find 4 seats together. I have a deck of cards on me at all times, and we’ve gotten into the habit of playing basically everywhere we go. We were told to stop by a manager at a bar the other night, which was weird. We make a little table out of our backpacks and play a few rounds of President to pass the time.

Our version of President is different from your version of President (or Asshole or whatever other names have been given to this game). I taught the game to Lindzee and John one night without really remembering the rules. When Adam got back from the rig he told us he played by a totally different set of rules. I assumed it was just a Kiwi thing, but we’ve since played with other people who’ve all said my rules are wrong…but what’s learned is learned. This is how we play now.

We arrive in Sitges and walk up to our Air BnB. It’s about 20 minutes from the centre, and all uphill. It may have been a slight mistake to have booked so far away, but it was way cheaper. We’re trying to keep our weekend as budgety as possible, and booked an Air BnB for 2 guests with the intention to cram all 4 of us in there. It’s just for one night.

I thought we were getting the whole flat to ourselves, but turns out the owners are home too. Whoops. Clearly they notice we are 4 humans, not 2, and charge us an extra 15€ but are super nice about it. Still cheaper than staying in the centre. Carnivale is the busiest weekend of the year in Sitges. Air BnB and hotel prices were going up well over 100€ per night, while this one outside the centre was just 45€. Okay, 60€ with our extra charge, but still significantly cheaper.

After making dinner we head down to where the party’s at! It’s still pretty early so we sit by the water and chill for a bit before hitting the main street. Sitges is your classic tiny beach town, so it’s easy to find the place to go for all the bars, we just follow the music and the people. Its legal to drink in the streets in Spain, and every bar is jam packed full of people, so the parties are literally pouring out into the street. It’s chaos but it’s good fun.




People’s costumes are hilarious. One group has dressed up as Donald Trump, a group of Mexicans, and the wall. Pure gold.

We all have a crazy time, and spend the next morning recounting the events of the night, and dying of laughter while laying on the beach in the sun. Spring is finally here and I’m so looking forward to more good weather!

Barcelona’s Cheapest Drinks

 

Because the further your money can go, the further you can go 

Spain: El Caramel Bunkers

The bunkers. An activity listed pretty high up in all of Barcelona’s tourist guidebooks. No idea what they are, but today we’re going. I really haven’t done anything touristy in my time here. Sure, I’ve wandered around the city and looked at all the beautiful Gaudi buildings from the outside, have become pretty familiar with the beaches of Barceloneta and the winding side streets of El Born… but I have yet to enter a museum.

Spain: Odd Jobs

I heard the term “imposter syndrome” for the first time the other day, and it’s exactly how I feel here as an English teacher. The woman who said it was using it to describe her own feelings about her occupation as a travel blogger (which I ALSO relate to), and was saying that she basically feels she is winging it every step of the way. Sames, girl. Sames.

Spain: Jumped

I am jumped by a man with a knife on my walk home from the bar. He grabs me by the arm and holds the knife up to my neck.

Spain: 1€ Yoga

Waking up for 10:30 feels impossible, which is pathetic because I went to sleep at midnight. Well, I tried, but with my job starting at 4pm or later every day, I’ve been staying up late. Today, 10:30 feels like 6am. I’m apart of a Facebook group specifically for TEFL teachers, and someone posted an ad offering 1€ yoga classes.

Spain: …Do I Have a Pimp? 

Another day on the grind. Workin’ that hard 11 hour a week life here in sunny Barcelona. NOT so sunny today, actually. An epic thunder storm hit last night and woke me up. This place is just the worst, I tell ya.
Today my first class starts at 4:15, about a 45 minute commute from my house. The metro system here is such a dream that I don’t even mind. In some ways, all these private lessons I’ll be teaching are a great way for me to see the whole city of Barcelona.

Spain: Adult Lesson

I’m feeling pretty shitty about these jobs I’ve had to cancel. I’ve told my Tuesday/Thursday class that I won’t be able to continue, but that I can work this week until they find someone new. They’re surprisingly chill about it, but I still feel awful. I tell my Monday/Friday class and they just don’t respond to me at all. Fair.

Spain: Suddenly Everything Changed

Another last minute job interview! A mere 20 minute walk from my place, which is even more fantastic. I show up and it turns out it’s a house, not an office or school. Perhaps this is where I die? I’m so desperate for a job that I almost done care. Upstairs I go. Sorry Mom.