Barcelona was my very first city to visit abroad. I went with two of my best friends (married) and my boyfriend Shawn. We tried to budget our trip and be as cheap as possible, which meant only going out for dinner once or twice (maybe) per city. In Barcelona the night to go out had finally come. We all got in our best outfits our backpacks could hold and went out on the town. We decided to hit the Ramblas as it was the main strip with a ton of night life.
We wanted this night to be perfect. It was our only chance to have a real Spanish meal in Barcelona. When you walk down the Ramblas people stand outside the restaurants begging you to come in and shouting out the specials they had for the night. We passed probably 20 restaurants none really completely appealing to all of us. I look back and can see the night clubesk restaurant with good looking Spanish men convincing us that there restaurant would be the most fun with a tad bit of envy and regret.
After about 30 minutes of searching and never agreeing on a restaurant we went down one alley and found what looked like a perfect Spanish hole in the wall. It had the stuco look to it with old Spanish paintings to make it even better. We made our way upstairs to a room with only one other group in there. This was our probably first sign to run.
We ordered Sangrias (naturally right?) and we were delivered what tasted to me like overpriced Kool-Aid. Have you ever gotten a frozen margarita out of a machine? Too much sugar and not enough alcohol? Over flavored sugar water was our second sign.
Now the menu. I think at this point we were so hungry we didn’t care what was on this menu but if I could go back I would have chosen starvation. The menu had steak, chicken, and fish on it. Now my expertise in what a menu in Barcelona should look like was, well none however I should have known this was wayy to americanized to be close to the delicious Spanish food I was craving. Since we were starving we ordered our food and hoped the lack of people in the room plus the American-esk menu wouldn’t ruin our dreams of a perfect Spanish meal.
Now in my 25 ripe years of age I have cooked many interesting meals and burned a few as well. I also grew up with my grandfather, a widowed bachelor who did his best to cook for a picky teenager. Now in all my experience with tasteless meals that the dog won’t even eat, none I mean NONE compared to what was served to us. I ordered grilled chicken and potatoes which turned out to be tiny chicken fillets that tasted like they had been over cooked on a George foreman grill with no seasoning and french fries that just tasted like old potatoes, my friend Andie with her “Cuttle Fish” which I should have never taken a bite of and my boyfriend’s steak (the best meal on the table) which was so thin you could see through it. So let’s just say it made my grandfather’s meals look like a 5 star restaurant prepared them.
Although this expensive tasteless meal was probably the most disappointing part of our trip to Barcelona it gave me a valuable life lesson : be prepared. Google, read blogs, ask the hostel workers just please don’t walk out onto the street expecting the best meal of your life or you will end up hungry, sugar drunk, and 50 dollars poorer.
I know many of you may be feeling sorry for our sad little group thinking we shorted ourselves the perfect Spanish night we dreamed about. The universe as it turns out had not completely abandoned us. On our way home, still starving we found a bar with rotating tapas and delicious authentic sangria. We were able to get toasted and fill our bellies. It was definitely a night full of lessons, bad food, and random fun that can never be repeated.