I wake up at 7am to say bye to Cesc. He’s getting on an early train to Tangier and making his way back to Madrid before work on Monday. I’ve still got a couple more days but Madré Mia what will I do without him? Will I ever make another friend? If I do, will they also be Spanish? The answer is most likely yes.
I wander around the medina which is absurdly large. Lots of fun things to see though!! Mostly just shops filled with things I can’t buy, but still a fun adventure. I get some quick street food breakfast (Moroccan crepe with fromage is my new go-to) and head back to my hostel. Here, the front desk guys invite me to eat breakfast with them in the kitchen and even though I explain I’ve just eaten, no one cares. So I eat again. So good, but so full. Declining food here isn’t really a thing.

I met a local last night who manages a Riad (hotel) in the medina. He calls to invite me out for a coffee which is great because I have absolutely no plans for the day. After grabbing a drink on a patio in the main square he has to go back to work, but invites me to come check out the Riad. Cools. The place is suuuuuper nice. Very small, clean and calm. This is where real adults stay when they travel, I suppose. No Arabic beats blaring like at my hostel.

His “job” is hilarious because he basically just hangs out in the lobby until a guest checks in, which is gruelling as you can imagine, especially at a Riad with 6 rooms. I also meet the other staff members and we just chill, drinking mint tea in the cool shade. Riads are super interesting. They’re defined by their central courtyard which usually has a little garden or sometimes a swimming pool. It’s all very open air and fresh feeling. Birds singing, still shaded but not enclosed. They’re cool.

This is “inside”

I meet the rest of the staff and get to practice some French because not everyone speaks English. More importantly, I learn more fun things about Morocco! These guys are all Berber, which I first learned a little bit about when I visited the desert and the gorge. They were always referred to as the “berber Nomad tribe”, and I assumed that was that. But no! Not really. The Berber people are the indigenous group of Morocco; pre Arabs, pre Europeans. Some of them still live the nomadic lifestyle and move around in small tribes but, what I learned, is that tons of them don’t. I could be way off base on this, but I think the whole Nomad tribe thing is played up specifically for tourists. Obviously the tribes exist but I find it curious that no one else bothered to mention lots of Berber people roll in the mainstream society as well. The tourism industry probably does the same for the indigenous people in Canada…something I’d never considered until today. Anyway, now I’m woke and I know stuff.

My day gets even BETTER, when they invite me to have dinner with them. They’re having a typical Marrakechi dish, which is just meat, garlic, saffron and a few other spices, thrown into a clay pot, topped with some water, and slow roasted over fire embers for 6 hours. Don’t have your own fire pit? No problem. Bring your clay pot to the nearest hammam (traditional public steam bath-more on this to come. I’ll visit one soon) and they’ll toss your dinner on the embers they use to heat the baths. I literally don’t think it could get cooler.

There is a small rush for check-ins, so I end up sitting and chatting with guests in the lobby. I basically work here now. The Riad is called Riad Menzeh, and I genuinely recommend that you stay here. Look at me, putting my marketing education to use.

We have wine with dinner on the upstairs patio, where I learn that not only does Morocco brew it’s on beer, it also has wine regions. I’ve come a long way from when I thought alcohol was entirely outlawed.

So I had straight meat and bread for dinner tonight

After dinner we head over to meet some of their friends at a bar. Again, I get to go to a cool local bar, not a tourist bar. We drive out of the medina and into the new town, where there are lots of neon lights, malls, a Louis Vuitton, a Starbucks, and other things that wouldn’t pop into your head when I say “Morocco”.

We get to the bar and it’s super chic. Everyone is dressed up. Women are in heels and full make up. I’m wearing the same pants I’ve worn for the last 3 days. I’m genuinely surprised that I’m even allowed inside. This spot is way way cooler than where I went last night. More like a cool lounge, much less like a hectic club, though people are still smoking inside which I don’t think I could ever get used to. I enjoy all the people watching and Moroccan rosé.

How to Pre-Game for Cheap in Barcelona

Maybe you just found an irresistible flight for a weekend trip to sunny Barcelona, booked it, then remembered the cost of accommodation, food, and sight-seeing. Maybe you’ve just moved here, and finding more than a few hours a week of work has been harder than you expected. Maybe you’re just a generally frugal person and like to find the cheapest price for everything no matter what.

Whatever your situation, I got you homie.

I made a list of the cheapest bars in Barcelona, but I know you like to pre-game, so here are my tips for how to do that on the cheap too.
Buy your booze from Grocery Stores, Supermeercats, or pick up some Sewer Beers on the street for optimal savings.

Grocery Stores
The cheapest place to pick up your pre-game dranks. Look for Condis, Dia%, Mercadona, Carrefour, and Lidl. Beer will cost almost the same across the board, but keep in mind that if you’re picking up snacks too, Carrefour is generally the most expensive, and Lidl the cheapest. A 330ml can of Estrella will be about 0.60€ no matter where you go, but sometimes you can find beer on special.
I once found 500ml tall cans on for 0.50€ at the Carrefour. Yah. Best believe I stocked up. Grocery stores offer a ton of other, nicer, beer brands too, and if you want to get hella thrifty, Dia% sell its own brand for 0.44€. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, though.

As for Liquor, if you’re looking for brands like Jameson, Absolut, Barcardi, or Jose Cuevo, expect to pay between 12 and 20€ for a 750ml bottle. If you don’t care and just want the cheapest booze around, I respect you, and am happy you tell you that there are lesser known brands for 5€. John Cor Whisky or Knebep Vodka, anyone?

Wine in Barcelona can be found for as little as 0.62€ for a bottle at Lidl, but I suggest you treat yourself to the 2-3€ bottle so you can actually drink it.

Supermercats (or, meercats, if you will)
This is probably the most convenient place to pick up your booze. You can find at least two supermeercats on every block in the centre of Barcelona. I don’t know how their businesses even survive because they’re so abundant.  Avoid anything on La Rambla, the main streets of Barceloneta, or any other highly populated tourist area. Here, A 330ml Estrella will cost you 1.25€, and the same can near Plaza España is only about 0.65€. Of course, if you’re staying/living near a tourist area, you won’t want to make a metro trip to save 60 cents, but least get off La Rambla and find a supermeercat down one of the less popular side streets.
Wine and Liquor prices are similar to the grocery stores, but tend to be slightly more expensive.

**Supermercats are open all night, but they can’t legally sell alcohol after 23:00.
Which brings me to the sewer beers…

Sewer Beers
Sounds appealing, right? You can easily find these being sold by random guys on the street, which is illegal. To keep the cans cold and hidden from police, they are wrapped in plastic bags and kept down below the grates. Hovering above Barcelona’s sewer system. Yummmm.

You judge now, but when it’s late, the shops are closed, and you’re on your way to a club, wanting one more cheap drink before facing 12€ cocktails… you’ll change your mind. Don’t pay more than 1€ per can. If you buy a bunch you can usually haggle them down and get one or two for free!

Happy Partying!