Travels through Barcelona and Toulouse

Long time, no blog! I’ve just spent the better part of two weeks in Barcelona and Toulouse, before arriving back in Paris last night. I may only be here for three weeks or it may be two months – in either case, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to unpack my suitcase!

As it was my first time in Barcelona and Toulouse, I thought I’d share some highlights from my trip.

Barcelona was wild. There are so many bars and clubs there that a week isn’t enough time to crack even 10 per cent of them. My favourite was the swanky bar at the W Hotel, which you can see in the picture below.

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While I was there, there were 50,000 gay people in town for the circuit festival, which I, of course, attended. My kinda party.

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I wish I could recommend a bunch of brilliant tourist sights, but I honestly saw nothing. I walked by some pretty buildings and snapped some pictures, but I had no idea what I was looking at. #basic

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Sightseeing was not the point of this trip, so I didn’t feel bad about it. Besides, I’ve been in so many European churches by now that it’s somewhat lost its appeal. I had much more fun being on the beach.

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I made friends with a semi-local, who took me to the top of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya on my last day, to enjoy a pretty view of Barcelona.

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Interestingly enough, I spent the entire week speaking French, as most people could speak Spanish and French but not a word of English. I would have definitely had a hard time otherwise.

Gym
Yes, I went to the gym on holiday as I had free entry to all DiR gyms so it seemed silly not to. The first one I went to was not so great, but the second one (DiR Claris) was one of the best gyms I’ve ever been to! They were both filled with gay men so I had no concerns about training in a sports bra.

My only complaint is that the gyms shut at 2.30pm on weekends. This seems insane for a town where almost no one is awake before noon.

Flax & Kale
My favourite Barcelona restaurant by far was Flax & Kale, which was down the road from my hostel. I’m kicking myself for only going there on my last day, but it was so good that I went back twice in the same day for brunch and dinner.

Breakfast scramble and a "healthy frappe" which was out of this world!

Breakfast scramble and a “healthy frappe” which was out of this world!

It is a “flexitarian” style menu, with mostly vegan and vegetarian dishes. Most things are dairy-free, gluten-free and/or raw, and they have a lot of hipster menu items like cauliflower pizza, almond milk, wheatgrass and so on. I felt like I was in New York or something!

I had the mini salmon burgers, because eating something vegetarian would have been one step too far!

I had the mini salmon burgers, because eating something vegetarian would have been one step too far!

I wanted to hate it but it was amazing. And the restaurant itself was super cool, too. I can highly recommend this place!

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This place was pretty hipster, too, with everything on the menu listed as natural and organic. My first day there I enjoyed a shakerato with almond milk (it took me back to the good ol’ days in Italy).

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On day two, I had a Cubano sandwich (pulled pork, cheese, jalapenos) with “healthy” fries. It was hella good although I was sceptical of anything on my plate being particularly healthy.

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El Bar
Of course, I didn’t just eat hipster food. My best traditional Spanish meal was at a place called El Bar, where I did the proper tapas thing. I won’t share all six of my courses, but the highlights were the mussels…

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… and the fish gnocchi.

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Copious amounts of wine were also consumed. In general, I drank way more than I usually would but it’s hard to say no when there is sangria and wine at every turn.

I went to one restaurant which gave me an entree, main, dessert and entire bottle of wine for €14. Yowza.

Trying to kill me...

Trying to kill me…

There was also, obviously, paella involved.

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After a crazy week in Barcelona, three days in Toulouse felt like a drastic change. Most Europeans are on holiday by the beach at the moment, so it felt like a bit of a ghost town.

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I wasn’t expecting it to be so hot (way hotter than Barcelona!) so I mostly lay around parks, the pool, and cafes in the main square. I was clearly in recovery mode as I slept 11 to 12 hours every night, oops. 

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I think these Toulousains were trolling me, because I got in trouble for sunbathing in the park (in a bikini, not my underwear, while there were plenty of shirtless men around – talk about a double standard) but actually got told off for trying to put my dress back on inside the pool grounds. WTF.

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I didn’t go crazy on the French food as it’s pretty normal for me these days (yes, I’m spoiled) and mostly stuck to salads as my body was in dire need of vegetables.

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There was a frozen yoghurt shop right on my doorstep, which was seriously dangerous considering it was pay by the gram and had such amazing flavours as biscoff, salted caramel, chocolate hazelnut, and cookies and cream. I went every day.

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I probably wouldn’t go back to Toulouse as it’s a bit too quiet for me, but it was a very necessary recovery pitstop after Barcelona.

Technically, my “vacation” time is now over so it’s back to normal life. Summer always goes too quickly! 

Did you go on holiday this summer? Where to? Have you ever been to Barcelona or Toulouse?

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