The view from the top of the Museu National d’art de Catalunya , once a palace, is the best in the city. It stands on one end of the city on the mountain of MonjuÃ¯c, where you can see all the way across to Mount Tibidabo and to its right, out toward sea.
It’s a pretty amazing feeling when I can look at the city from above and know where I live, what the major landmarks are, and for the most part, where each district is. I can’t believe that in ten days, my time in Barcelona will be half way over. Now that I’ve seen all of the tourist sights and the most famous parts of the city, I’ve been using my time to go on small adventures. I’m comfortable enough now to venture without any set plan and go wherever my feet take me.
Recently my friends and I had been on the hunt for the best Mexican food the city has to offer, not surprisingly since two are from Texas and one from Mexico, and this weekend we finally found it. El Pachuco is just outside of Las Ramblas in the Raval district. Raval is known as one of the more run down areas of the city, but it also holds a rich culture of food, bars and the best street art.
The walls of the tiny restaurant are a collage of quirky items. It’s a one-man show behind a bar where every dish is made to order. With a pencil and piece of paper you check off your choices, and in less than 15 minutes you are presented with a beautiful combination of authentic tacos topped carne asada and lime, a side of freshly made tortilla chips and guacamole.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is finding the best local food wherever it may be. Yes, it is partly because I just love to eat, but trying new things is the spice of life. Of course you don’t always have to like them- like when my host mother gave me full sized squids for dinner, but at least it made for a good story.
Food and drink also says a lot about the culture of a place. I have found that drinking in Spain is a huge part of the culture, but not in the way your average American college student would imagine. It is normal to sit at a cafÃ© anytime after 2 p.m., Â and have a beer with friends or even alone on lunch or after work. On weeknights, it’s not uncommon to go out to a bar and have a few drinks and socialize before, during or after dinner. The Spanish culture is a very social one, and they make time to enjoy life after work.
So when you say you’re going out to a bar, it’s not about drinking until you forget every Friday and Saturday night and going to find a one-night stand. It is to relax and enjoy the company of others. When you look around a bar, people are having intimate conversations with friends, laughing and there is always one couple in the corner who seem madly in love. (Public displays of affection are also much more acceptable).
Phones are seldom present and no one is taking snap chats or texting. I’ll never forget when a friend asked a bartender for the wifi password, and he responded by saying “I don’t give that out, you’re supposed to talk to each other.” And so we do.