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Travel

Filtering by Tag: Travel 2k18

Euro Summer Finale: Barcelona, Spain

Claudia Di Capua

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All good things must come to an end, including my summer travels. June through August has been filled with several Euro trips to locations I have never been before. I'm happy to be crossing four more places off my list including Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Azores Islands and Spain. While this blog entry will cover my most recent trip to Barcelona, you can find details on all of my other trips in previous travel posts (click the travel tab on the menu bar above)! Now, without further adieu, I give you all of the sites, locations and recommendations I have from our trip to Spain! Shoutout to my Barce crew (Emily, Alston and Amanda + honorary guest Calsi). 

Hotel

  • Ohla Eixample Hotel: This hotel was a true God sent. Originally, we planned to stay in an Airbnb, which ended up looking nothing like the photos, was out of the way and had no air conditioning. Three strikes and we were out of there. I know a lot of Europe doesn't use air conditioning units, but during the warmest summer months in Spain, it was important to us to be comfortable and have an enjoyable trip. We found the Ohla Hotel on the Hotel Tonight app and never looked back! It was truly like night and day when comparing the two. The Hotel has an amazing rooftop pool and bar with views of the city, gorgeous rooms and great food. It's in the middle of the city and close to the beach. Were able to to get around very easily from there as well.

Wearing: TJ Swim Leila Top & Gigi Bottoms // Fae Swim Gypsy Top & Bella Bottoms

Sites

  • Montserrat: This was easily my favorite site out all of the locations we went to. It take about an hour and a half to actually get there, but it's so worth it! Everything from the cable car to get top the top of the mountain to the trails and actual building structures, there is something to see every way you turn. The views alone are reason enough to go!
  • Catedral De Barcelona: This Cathedral is probably the most ornate and grand in design that I've ever seen. Sitting right off of the Gothic Quarter, you get to walk through narrow alley ways that make up the outdoor corridors of the church. With so much history (spooky history at that) and intricacies in design, it makes the list as a must see!
  • La Sagrada Familia: Unfortunately, we arrived to this church too late in the day to actually go inside, but the fact that we only saw the outside and this is on the list of must sees speaks volumes! This cathedral is not even completed yet, They are constantly adding to this church in Guadi's honor (the architect behind much of Barcelona's famous structures).

 

  • Gothic Quarter: I found it interesting to simply look up and see the Gargoyles or to get lost in the narrow alley ways. Everything is so old aside from the shops (which are fun too haha). 
  • Park Guell: Believe me when I say I hate myself for saying this, but I never actually got to go to Park Guell. I know. Too many sites and not enough time! I'll be back though. This park is tiled to perfection and full of color and greenery. Definitely worth a stroll! Buy tickets in advance. 
  • La Rambla: For those out there looking for the Time Square of Spain, hit up La Rambla. This is where you'll find tons of shops and peopl.

Beaches

  • Barcelona Beach: This was the first beach we went to and a fun way/easy way to jump right into things. It's one of the most popular beaches in Barcelona, thus bringing in the crowds. It's great if you want to be right next to the city making it easy to grab food or shop. Also, there are tons of beach bars right on the sand!
  • Platja de la Nova Icaria: Still a little crowded during high season, this beach is a more relaxed version of Barcelona Beach. It's farther North of the city center with calmer waters. There are cute restaurants around the perimeter and less people trying to sell you tapestries and massages while you tan. 
  • Bogatelle: We never ended up at this beach, but were told that it's one of the quieter options. It's clean and chill, what more can you ask for?!

Wearing: TJ Swim Cindy Top & Cindy Bottoms

Restaurants & Bars

  • Sensi: Hands down my favorite meal of the entire trip. This was a recommendation to us by someone we met on the beach, so it wasn't a super tourist trap. We loved it so much we went back twice! The prices are unbeatable for how amazing the food is!
  • Bar Mut: This was a Vogue recommendation, so a little pricier, but the food was immaculate. We pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves during siesta hours and the actual venue is 100% Instagrammable (IMPORTANT). 
  • Cecconi's: We planned to have one bougie dinner excursion and Cecconi's at the Soho House, Barcelona was our pick. While this meal wasn't full of tapas, we had some amazing cheese plates, vegetables, meat and pasta dishes! The drinks were to die for as well! Again, a completely Instagram worthy location. 
  • Opium: One of the most popular nightclubs in Barcelona where you should definitely equip yourself with a promoter before going in. It's a tad expensive, but if you go in with a group it's pretty reasonable. Can't complain about a table and bottle service at a busy club!
  • La Terrazza: While it's a little out of the way, it supposedly has one of the best sound systems in all of Europe. Set in what looks like an old castle town, you'll be dancing and (probably) drinking under the stars to edm music. 

Get lost in other parts of the world:

Azores Islands: Hidden Gem

Claudia Di Capua

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I’ve never been to a country (or set of islands) that I didn’t know existed shortly before booking the flight, until I went to the Azores. A set of nine islands off the coast of Portugal makes up the picturesque, nature filled and lush landscapes. The pictures couldn’t prepare me for the views and intrigue that drew me in more and more each day! Only a short 4 hour direct flight landed me on the islands of Pico and shortly after, São Miguel. This post is meant to share everything we did, share some advice, and provide a glimpse into this untouched, un-commercialized hidden gem called the Azores. I included links to my looks as well, so shop away!


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Stop Number 1: Pico Island

I didn’t know what to expect, but the island surprised me in so many ways. It seemed almost uninhabited, which was of course not true seeing as there are villages every few miles. Although, we didn’t see many people walking through the towns as we drove around. This was perfect for us! It was almost like having a private island. We rarely had to share whatever coastal space we camped out at for the day. It was almost too good to be true that we could drive around the island and basically have it to ourselves!

The best pieces of advice I have for Pico is to rent a car and just drive. There are so many landscapes and cool coastlines to see. You can get around the entire island in under an hour and driving up into the mountains makes for a great photo op! The views are unreal. Below are some of the specific places that were are memorable for us.

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Sites

  • EN3 Road: We found the entrance to this road while exploring the mountains further inland. It looks like. Never-ending road surrounded by rolling hills and cattle. It almost looks cinematic or photoshopped in a way. Highly recommend a drive through here (and pics of course). Photos 1-4 below.
  • Mount Pico: This is the site of the active Volcano on Pico. We gave it our all trying to get to the top, but the clouds were too thick and we were not properly dressed. This is not a hike for wimps, so be ready to climb and reap the rewards in amazing views. Photo 5 below. 
  • Ribeira: While driving around the coast, we came across curbside pools! These pools are either next to the ocean or actually meet the ocean. It’s a great concept and are open to everyone for free in many towns. Photo 6 below. 

Activities

  • Turispico Horseback Riding: This was definitely a top 3 activity in my book. For $40pp, we got a 2 hour private tour by horse through the surrounding towns and a wine/cheese tasting afterwards. You can opt to do a longer or shorter tour, which changes cost. All photos below.
  • Pico Sport dolphin/whale watching: If you want to swim with Wild dolphins in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and see whales surfacing even further from shore, check out Pico Sport. Let it be known that the water is not very warm especially on a cloudy day like we had!

Beaches

  • All coastal locations and beaches we found were places we saw that looked interesting. We just pulled over from our exploratory drives and camped out at beaches, rock formations and cliff sides that are near the water. They are all over the coast, so definitely take a drive and stop at anything that grabs your attention! All photos of various coastal stops below. 

Food

  • Petipe: Amazing place for dessert with a pretty view of the mountains as well as the ocean. All photos below.
  • Restaurante Ponta da Ilha: Cute Seafood restaurant with good food. 
  • Cella Bar: One of the more upscale restaurants we visited. Very cool exterior with amazing sunset views.
  • Bar Esplanada: Great for a quick bite in the capital of Pico, Madalena (next to Pico Sport).

Stop Number 2: São Miguel

This island is definitely a bit more commercialized than Pico given the stores and number of people. It’s a little more fast paced, but the views and sites are just as amazing as in Pico. It took a bit longer than it did in Pico to get around so having a car is super important. It’s pretty easy to find a beach on both islands, but São Miguel had more sand beaches that were more upbeat. There are so many sites to see and activities to do including getting to Sete Cidades, visiting waterfalls and sinking into hot springs. Get all the details below.

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Sites

  • Sete Cidades: Also known as the Seven Cities located at the bottom of a crater. Amazing views of this from Boca do Inferno!
  • Boca do Inferno Viewpoint: This was easily in my top three favorite moments of this trip! Boca do iInferno translates to Hell’s Mouth, which is a viewpoint overlooking Sete Cidades. While it’s a little tricky to find and you need to be lucky with the weather, this view is worth the struggle!
  • Salto do Cabrito: This is a fun waterfall (also tricky to find) where you can go for a quick dip and get a few photos! 

Activities

  • Azores Surf Center: Potentially my favorite activity from the entire trip! For just 30 Euros pp, you get an hour and a half instructional surf lesson. I’ve wanted to do this for the longest time and I can’t wait to go again!
  • Hot Spring Baths: This is a great cloudy day activity. There were five baths with varying temperatures and the location is super serene. 
  • Ponta da Ferraria Natural Thermal-Water Pool: While you need to go to this heated pool in the ocean during low tide, it’s a cute hangout and a nice dip. Get there right at the beginning at low tide to avoid crowds. 

Beaches

  • Praia de Santa Barbara: This beach is the only one we visited while on São Miguel since we were so busy running around the island. It was definitely the best choice for us. The waves were perfect for body boarding, floating and even surf lessons. It’s a huge stretch of beach with a restaurant and great views. 

Food

  • Tukà Tulà Bar: This restaurant is on Praia de Santa Barbara and we ended up going there twice. They serve great drinks (love the frozen mango mojito) and it’s a great place to leave the beach and watch the sunset over dinner. 

Tips

  1. bring windbreakers, good shoes and a backpack as it gets a little chilly and rocks can be hard to walk on at times. 
  2. Everything is pretty cheap! We stayed in Airbnbs and we only ended up paying $15 per day each. 
  3. Groceries are super cheap
  4. Bring a lot of underwear, bathing suits and socks. Since the clouds sit very low, clothing doesn’t dry very quickly. 
  5. Airbnb's are perfect if you rent a car (which you should)