La Comida De Barcelona (Barcelona Food)

Being the international city that it is, Barcelona is not confined to any one set of cultural practices. Like I mentioned in my travel diaries about language and culture, despite being a Spanish city, there are several languages common spoken here daily. Heavily influenced by multiple cultures, countries, languages, and people, Barcelona offers amazing diversity in multiple factors of life. I´m sure you can surmise from the title of this post, which of those ¨factors¨ I'll be writing about today; food. Aside from delicious traditional Spanish foods, this city offers many different types of cuisine. Italian, French, ¨Americana¨(as they say), Mediterranean, and so on and so forth. And much like the states, even food from different cultures, being prepared by people from those cultures, still varies from how it may be prepared in its country of origin in the interest of fitting seamlessly into Spanish culture.

Needless to say I´ve been indulging myself, and taking full advantage of all edible possibilities, and snapping a few pictures along the way.

Warning: Do not read this post if you are hungry

 

Pizza

We'll start here because this is probably the food I´ve  had the most of since I´ve been in the city. Actually..this is probably the food group I´ve had the most of since I´ve been alive. Unlike America, pizza in Spain can actually be classified as Italian food. The crust is always relatively thin, but is always prepared fresh daily. Marinara sauce here, I´ve noticed, is a little bit on the sweet side (which I don´t mind because I´m a

sugar-in-spaghetti type of girl), and a little more textured. I love pepperoni pizza, however here pepperoni is sliced very thick and is spicier than in the states. In fact, I´ve seen it written in several menus as ¨chorizo caliente¨ or ¨Spicy Sausage¨. It´s still good, but not as good in my humble opinion. But aside from that american pizza cannot touch the pizza here. Dominos? Don´t know her.

 

 (left) San Marino Pizzeria - Bacon (right) Resturante Bivio - Chorizo Caliente

(left) San Marino Pizzeria - Bacon (right) Resturante Bivio - Chorizo Caliente

 

My favorite pizzaria´s thus far:

  1. Pizza Napoli Barcelona

  2. San Marino Pizzeria

  3. Les Dues Siciles

  4. Resturante Bivio

 

Japanese & Chinese Food

I wish I had more variety for this section but once I found MY sushi place, I forgot other sushi restaurants existed. My sushi place, Youme, has a delicious, affordable, and vast menu, AND they deliver. I´ve become a huge fan of Uber eats since being in the city. Not only because it's actually available here but because delivery charges are extremely cheap ranging from 1,30€ to 1,80€. Maybe that's typical of big cities but in my college town delivery is usually upward of $3. That being said, I've ordered youme through uber eats no less than five times and feel absolutely no shame about it. A few days ago I decided to branch out a little bit and get sushi from a place that also served traditional Ramen. The menu was completely in spanish so I just clicked on something that sounded good through my abysmal translation skills and hoped for the best. It was incredible.

 (left) Youme Sushi - Tempura California Roll, Rollitos Japoneses (spring rolls), Udon Noodles con Gamba y Verdura (Prawns & Vegetables).   (Right) Koikoi Sushi - Hot Tartar (spicy tuna sushi) & Ramen

(left) Youme Sushi - Tempura California Roll, Rollitos Japoneses (spring rolls), Udon Noodles con Gamba y Verdura (Prawns & Vegetables). 

(Right) Koikoi Sushi - Hot Tartar (spicy tuna sushi) & Ramen

 

I've also tried a few chinese places, that looked incredibly sketchy, which of course means that the food was superb. I don't have pictures of those because by the time I remembered I was planning to write this post the food was gone. But I will list them below.

 

Sushi Places

  1. Youme

  2. Koikoi Sushi

Chinese

  1. Chen Ji

  2. Palacio De China

You can also sign up for ubereats and get $10 off your order using my code ¨eats-mercedesb57ue¨

This is not sponsored but I get $10 off too and I really want that. So, sign up. Thanks.

 

TACOS

^ That's in all caps because I am extremely excited about this topic. Being the Spanish vs Hispanic confused youth that I was prior to this trip, I was very excited to try some ¨authentic Spanish tacos¨ and that's 100% not a thing. Tacos are classified as Mexican food exactly as they are in the U.S. However, that doesn´t make them any less delicious.Much like with the sushi, I found a taqueria that I loved and got settled in. Taqueria Tamarindo has to have some of the best street style tacos I've had. Plus the staff knows me by name and has offered me free shots of tequila twice now. They´re basically family.  

 House made Guacamole & Chips and Trompo Tacos (pork)

House made Guacamole & Chips and Trompo Tacos (pork)

 

I branched out and tried another taco place, Taco Alto Born, and after eating there twice I've decided that I really don't like it. They seem to cater a lot to American taste in food i.e flour tortillas and fake cheese. So after being blessed by the existence of Taqueria Tamarindo my taste buds shifted and I lost my taste for those things. At least when it comes to tacos. 

I also had tacos from a beach restaurant called Jefferson. Again, by then I was less of fan of flour tortillas, but their guacamole was fantastic and I have to give them props for presentation. 

 (left) Taco Alto Born - Two chicken Tinga tacos, one Taco Gringa (carne asada) and one Taco Pirata ( pork). (Right) Jefferson Beach Club - three chicken tinga tacos 

(left) Taco Alto Born - Two chicken Tinga tacos, one Taco Gringa (carne asada) and one Taco Pirata ( pork). (Right) Jefferson Beach Club - three chicken tinga tacos 

 

Fine Dining

I've had two nicer dining experiences since I´ve been here. The first was actually my first night here at a beach restaurant called Carpe Diem. Before I even get into the food I have to talk about the seating for a moment. On the outside deck, facing the beach, there were several tables and chairs as is to be expected. But there were also couch-like seats built into the wall and lining the outside patio. They were like couches in that they were soft and had a back, but they were much deeper than couches so that someone could sit against the back and stretch their legs out completely in front of them. A group of six of us were able to sit in a corner section and eat there instead of a table. (they had silver trays so there was a flat surface for putting drinks on. Fancy.)  

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I ordered Curry Prawns with rice, which sounds exactly as good as it was. But this where I will note that it was quite a deal less seasoned than I would have liked. And I also noticed this at the other nice restaurant we went to in Girona. I don´t know if there's any direct correlation between nicer restaurants and less flavorful food but I do know that some salt and chili powder would have gone a long way.

 (left) Carpe Diem - Curry prawns with white rice. (right) Casa Marieta in Girona - Roast chicken & potato

(left) Carpe Diem - Curry prawns with white rice. (right) Casa Marieta in Girona - Roast chicken & potato


 

Before I end this post, I have to admit it that  I did succumb to my American roots and stop into a KFC, once or twice. And it was so much better than the states, which I attribute to spain having higher standards for food. The chicken just seemed like it was higher quality. You can judge me, but realistically how long can a southerner go without fried chicken? Exactly.

 

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Traveler´s Choice Luggage Review

I´ll be the first to say it- I like to travel in style. I´m still waiting on the days where ¨traveling in style¨means flying in my private jet, but for now I´m content with simply having aesthetically pleasing and good quality luggage. 

It was December when I found out I would be going abroad for the summer for an internship program, which was perfect timing, because I got several travel related gifts, one of those being a gorgeous three piece luggage set from Traveler´s choice (shout out to my amazing older brother)

My older brother´s gift giving style involved me sending him a link to what I wanted, and then him telling me that he´d found something better (this is typical Jon Bell behavior). But I´m grateful, because while I was thinking purely style, he was thinking style, functionality, and reliability, which resulted in my owning a really great set of suitcases. 

This post may contain affiliate links, so that should you choose to click on them and purchase the product, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.  

 Not pictured here: The third medium sized suitcase

Not pictured here: The third medium sized suitcase

This is the Traveler’s Choice Sedona 8-Wheels Polycarbonate Hardside Expandable Spinner 3-Piece Luggage Set, Red. We elected to purchase my particular set off of Amazon in the interest of getting 2-day shipping, but it is of course available on their website as well. 

We chose red because it was different. Most luggage is black or grey. A bright red like this stands out which makes it easier to collect from the baggage claim, and can also dissuade luggage thieves. I´m not a luggage thief, but if I were I wouldn´t steal something so conspicuous. 

In addition to not really being a desirable color to steal, this set also has locks on the zippers, which is an amazing feature. 

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It did take me a little bit of finessing to figure out how the locks worked, buuuuuut I also could have just read the very detailed instructions :) 

Because I don´t do as much traveling as I would like, I was extremely behind the curve on luggage technology.  My last suitcase before this was pretty basic and did not have, what is perhaps my favorite feature of these suitcases; wheels that roll in any direction.  While this is not necessarily a must for luggage, when I was running down 44th Avenue in NYC trying to catch the shuttle to the airport, I was really grateful for easing rolling luggage. 

 

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Each suitcase also has zip up dividers on the inside, and are expandable for when you just have to fit those last twenty items into your suitcase. 

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I knew that they looked nice when they first arrived, there was no question about that, but now that they´ve been broken in a little bit, I can definitely say that this Traveler´s Choice set was a great choice. Not only for style, but reliability and quality. My only lament is that the exterior can get a damaged a little easier than fabric suitcases. The baggage claim system was a little rough on my larger piece and as a result it has a few barely detectable scratches on it. With that being said, I am still very pleased with these suitcases and give them a solid nine out of ten.  

 

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Barcelona Travel Diaries: Language & Culture

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Dear Diary,

Lmao just kidding, I´m not going to open my travel diaries like that. However,  these will consist mostly of my personal musings and observations about different things related to my travels, with a few pretty pictures here and there. No ¨How-to´s¨ or ¨10 ways...¨ here, just my and my thoughts.

Something I´m ashamed to admit is that until about a month before I took this trip I had not considered the stark differences between spanish culture, and hispanic culture, or even the fact they are two very different things. It wasn't even until I was watching a spanish drama that I realized that even the type of spanish spoken in spain is different than what you would hear latin persons speaking. Of course this should not have come as a surprise to me, as even english is spoken differently from the U.S to London to Ireland, or even from Arkansas to California let's be honest.  I gave myself a free pass since my cultural horizons could only be so broad as someone who - at that point - had never been out of the country. But now since watching those riveting episodes of the Grande Hotel (highly recommend), and since being here my knowledge of the language and culture has been greatly expanded.

Castellano spanish is the type of spanish spoken here, the main distinction being that the soft ¨c¨ sound is pronounced ¨th¨. So the way that we say Barcelona, would be pronounced ¨Barthelona¨. It definitely has a very lisp-y quality to it, but when spoken by natives it is a beautiful language. When spoken by me….well, anyway moving on. Something I didn't know until arriving is that Castellano isn´t just native to spain but to Barcelona specifically. A trip to Valencia (Valenthia?), madrid, the islands, or the countryside would each result in hearing different types of spanish. Again, this shouldn't be as surprising as it is considering english is exactly the same way but I was still fascinated by this knowledge.  

People who did know about Castellano Spanish being the prominent language here have asked me about adjusting to  using the ¨th¨ in place of the ¨c¨. In all honesty, it's been more difficult to remember to pronounce¨ j¨ as¨ h¨ and that´s typical Spanish pronunciation. But I´ve also noticed that, that is not the only way I hear Spanish spoken. In fact, I´ve only heard Gracias pronounced the Castellano way by a few people. I realized that despite Barcelona having its own version of Spanish, this is still a very international city. I hear the ¨typical¨Spanish as often as I hear Castellano, as often as I hear Croatian, french, German and English. And I won't lie, it was a relief knowing I wouldn't be frowned at for not using Castellano pronunciation because I just don´t know about all that.

Another language I hear spoken, almost more than Spanish is Catalan, a language I hadn't given any thought to until I stepped off of the plane. Catalan, native to Catalonia, can be loosely defined as a mix of Spanish and French with a little more Spanish than French. This is especially evident in writing, where Catalan combines articles and words beginning with a vowel with an apostrophe, like the French. (Example La Amour = lámour ), as well as in the overall flow of the language. However you are more likely to understand Catalan as a Spanish speaker than a French speaker, which is great for me who took three years of French in high school :)   

As I write this, there is a separatist movement by Catalonia to form their own country independent of Spain. Spanish Government, of course, is ¨not about that¨ for multiple reasons, not the least among them that Barcelona is located in Catalonia territory. Since being here, I have witnessed three Catalonia protests, and multiple banners advertising the separatist agenda. This is specifically interesting to me because I have never witnessed political unrest of this type.  

Siesta´s are apparently not a thing, at least not for me. Many shops and restaurants do close for a few hours during the afternoon, but as far as I can tell the working people take normal lunch breaks and then go back to the grind. It's too bad because I was truly looking forward to napping.

I was warned about there being no AC but that did nothing to prepare me for facing the reality of a summer in spain without air conditioning. Spain, where the sun doesn't set until 9:30 or actually leave the sky until a few minutes after 10pm smh. A scam.

All that being said, my favorite part of spanish culture is the attitude. Barcelona is a big city so of course there is a level of ¨hustle & bustle¨ that can´t be avoided, but it is so apparent how much more relaxed and carefree everyone here is, compared to the states. Even without the highly anticipated siestas, I feel a great deal more at peace surrounded by people who focus more on leisure and experiences than work and income.

That´s all for now, 

Mercedes Bell

 

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What to Pack for a Summer Abroad

Going abroad is all fun and games until you have to pack. You can actually feel the excitement draining out of you when you realize the only thing standing between you and another country is your empty suitcase, and messy closet. Beyond the physical labor of actually packing clothes into your suitcase is the mental battle of trying to anticipate your every wardrobe need and pack accordingly. And don´t forget those amazing weight limits imposed by the airline.  

That leads to my first step pro packing tip; find out how much your luggage can weigh. Most U.S based airlines have a standard weight limit, but if you´re flying with an international airline the weight requirements may be different and they will most likely be in kilograms.  With the knowledge in mind of you much your checked luggage can weigh, you can proceed to figuring out what you need to take.

I packed for a summer internship so my packing needs were a little different from someone studying abroad, but I used widely applicable rules and methods to make sure I was taking the right items. And after being here a full month and having to live with my packing decisions I'm pretty confident in them.  

This post may contain affiliate links, so that should you choose to click on them and purchase the product, I will earn a small commision at no additional cost to you.  

Click here to read about where to get luggage to take abroad

 

Shoes  

Because they can take up so much space, shoes can be very difficult to pack. It´s a good idea to limit yourself to one or at the very most two pairs of really bulky shoes, like tennis shoes. I chose to only bring my Adidas, and to wear them while I traveled to avoid having to put them in my suitcase at all. For work and going out I brought a few pairs of LOW heels, and for every day I brought a pair of slip on canvas shoes, and a pair of sandals. Sandals and slips ons are great because they do not take up a lot of space and can go with a variety of outfits. 

Bottoms

I ended up bringing more pairs of jeans than anyone should really be wearing during the summer, because I knew I´d need them for work. Outside of that, jeans during the summer should be a sin. I also brought two pairs of denim shorts, two skirts, and two pairs of leggings. 

Dresses

Sundresses are the best thing to take for travel. Dresses in general make for very quick outfits. Sundresses are generally made of light material and thus take up almost no space in a suitcase, on top of being breathable and great for hot weather. These can be worn for work, class, or just going out and exploring. I actually own quite a few sundresses so this is where pro packing tip #2 comes in:  

When you have a lot of anything to choose from, pick out all the ones you want to bring..and then cut that in half. It´s a hard process but it is so necessary.

Tops

I´m using the word ¨tops¨loosely since I live predominately in bodysuits. Either way, these should be chosen very strategically. I brought several tops that could be easily switched between occasions and outfits. You´ll notice that my assortment of shirts is pretty monochromatic. But is there anything you cant pair a black or white top with? And the same top I can pair with a jacket and pants to wear to work, I can pair with shorts to wear shopping, and a skirt to wear to dinner.  

Jackets are still very necessary in the summer. The hotter it gets outside, the colder it gets inside. A light sweater is a good packing choice. I also have a heavy cardigan I used for travel as airports are pretty cold too, and a blazer for dressier work days. 

For me, T-shirts didn´t require any strategic thinking, I just grabbed five that I liked and called it a day. 

Lounge/Athletic/Sleepwear

I can´t think of the last time I owned an actual set of matching pajamas. In my wardrobe, sleepwear, lounge wear and athletic wear are all interchangeable. For this reason I packed three pairs of running shorts, a couple of tank tops, the aforementioned T-shirts and leggings, and two pairs of sleep shorts [read: men´s boxers]. 

Accessories 

In my opinion, accessories require no strategy to be packed. They are usually small enough that they don´t take up enough space to be a bother. I threw all my rings and earrings into a small pouch and tossed it into the fray. I only wear one necklace and it´s usually on my person. But if you have a lot of necklaces to travel with, lay them flat on a T-shirt and roll them up. Just don´t forget which t-shirt they´re in. 

Underwear 

I´ve seen a lot of rules of thumb when it comes to packing underwear. The one that makes the most sense to me is to pack enough for two weeks. That´s the perfect time frame in case you can´t get around to doing laundry every week. And anything over two weeks worth would be excessive.

Products

This is possibly the most difficult thing to pack. Mostly because it´s hard to think of, at once, every product you need to use over the next 2-3 months. My advice is to leave anything you can repurchase at a reasonable price. Body washes, scrubs, lotions, and face washes will most likely be readily available wherever you´re going. 

(I have a more detailed post coming on the best makeup products to travel with. Stay Tuned) 

I was advised to leave my hot tools at home and repurchase those over seas as well. Which is ridiculous. WHO wants to spend $100+ on items they already own. And what would I do with two flat irons when I get back to the states, one of which I wouldn´t even be able to plug in? My advice? Buy an outlet adapter and go on your merry way. 

 
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Things you´ll need that you are likely to forget you need

1. Nail maintenance (nail clippers, nail file, ONE nail polish)  

2. Outlet Adapter - Oh yeah, other countries have different outlets

3. Extension cord - This way you won´t have to buy multiple adapters 

4. Any product that you need, and cannot be replaced overseas. Buy enough for the duration of your stay

 

 

So after four weeks I can safely say that I did a pretty good job anticipating what I would need and not over packing. Even after a month, I´m still going ¨Oh, I forgot I packed this¨, so I definitely haven´t run out of unique outfits yet. Also..let´s be honest I´ve been shopping. (insert emoji of the girl with her hands up like¨oh well¨)  And that leads me to my third and final pro packing tip: Try to get all of your items into your checked baggage and try to keep your carry on relatively empty. This will be great for when you accumulate new stuff on the road, and for when you undoubtedly remember something you forgot to pack and your suitcase is already at capacity. 

 

 

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