Day 1: London /// Our epic journey began at the lamest airport bar ever, waiting for our delayed flight. In the San Diego airport, amidst several toddlers and the worst lighting ever, we ended up having drinks with two fellow San Diegans who were also headed to London. When we finally boarded the plane, we were given free wine that tasted like crap. Jeannette got sick almost immediately, but made it to the bathroom before puking all over herself! Ten hours later we landed in London and noticed that Skrillex was at the baggage claim. He wasn’t impressive. By the time we got on the Tube we were delirious from lack of sleep. We got off the subway in Picadilly Square, right in the middle of Soho and were surrounded by a busy crowd and a confusing intersection. Although we had no idea how to get to the apartment that we had rented on Airbnb, we somehow miraculously chose the right direction to walk in and a few blocks up we arrived at our place, tucked away in an adorable little alleyway off the clean and tidy Soho streets. We were greeted by the stylish and friendly Anders, wearing his swanky shoes, who led us up a tiny staircase to a beautiful studio apartment with high ceilings, a good book collection, and a magnificent window. Exhausted, we walked down the street and ate noodles for dinner at an over-priced place that looked like a museum, and then went home and fell asleep.
Day 2: London /// Anji stumbled literally seven steps out the door to grab coffee in the morning at a cute coffee shop in front of the apartment. Right away we realized that renting an apartment from Airbnb was a good move. Not only is it way more cost effective, but it really makes you feel like a local. Instead of being amongst all the other tourists at a hotel, we got to come and go from our very own place, so it felt like home. After a quick breakfast we took the Tube to visit two different neighborhoods: Camden Town and then Shoreditch. Camden Town highlights: lots of clothing vendors and a mega-store called Cyberdog that transports you back to the futuristic rave days of the early 90s. Shoreditch highlights: Brick Lane (a never-ending supply of street art, vintage clothing stores, record shops, fashionistas, trendy males, bars, and cafes), met a female graffiti artists named Ukey who was in the middle of doing a rad piece, and the PopRockThreads sticker bomb frenzy began. We ate at The Electricity Showrooms (a burger and fish chips), and once again were not impressed with the London cuisine. Later that evening, back in Soho, we wandered the busy yet peaceful streets filled with bars, clubs, and people. We chose Freedom Bar, where the cover fee was waived for us, and there was a drag show going on downstairs. Then we walked over to a club called Dstrkt, where they were charging around $30 for cover! We were hoping for something amazing at that price, but instead the place smelled like cumin and was filled with fancy elitists. There was no room at all to dance because of all the tables intended for bottle service for the high rollers….maybe Justin Bieber could’ve been there, but who cares, it was a waste of money.
Day 3: London /// We spent the day taking a long walk all around Soho. Highlights: shopping on Regent Street, sushi at Yoobi (finally some decent food), walking around Trafalgar square in the rain, and third row seats for Les Miserables. That night began pretty humbly without much excitement planned. Since we had to wake up at 5 am the next morning to fly to Spain, we decided we probably wouldn’t go anywhere special, so we didn’t even bother to go back and change out of our casual clothes that had been rained on earlier. Jeannette was in a t-shirt, Dr. Martens, and green baggy shorts, and Anji in Reeboks, leggings, and vintage floral jacket. We bar-hopped a little through all the gay bars in Soho and tried making conversation with a few groups of people on the street. We were feeling a bit disappointed with our London experience because nobody wanted to chat, until a guy stopped us on the street and gave us a hug for no reason. That was the good luck charm we needed, because on the walk home we stumbled upon a mysterious tiny dark alley with a black light. There wasn’t a sign to tell us what this place was, but out of curiosity we decided to get in line and give it a try. The bouncer told us it was going to be tough to get in, and they refused entry to the dapper men in front of us who were wearing nice suits, so we guessed our t-shirt and sneaker outfits weren’t going to cut it. We were extra lucky that night, though, and were shocked when another bouncer came out of the club, pointed to us, and told us to come in. No cover! We walked in and immediately knew this was going to be epic. This is the ‘underground’ type of place we knew existed, but had know way of finding out about. As we walked into a the door we realized it was a small old burlesque style theatre, still preserved in its old fashion glory and elegence, with sexy women in lingere posing on the stairway. We went up the dark stairs into the main theatre to find a small room full of beautiful people. Wondering how we even got in wearing such casual clothes and putting little effort into our appearance, we felt a bit out of place among the uber-stylish crowd, but took our entrance into the place as an awesome compliment to our funky sense of style and just went with it. We danced on the platform with a dancer that looked exactly like Naomi Campbell, and later the curtain opened to reveal topless girls thrashing around with lights flashing on stage. The rest of the show included artsy and provocative things like a Chinese woman getting white paint rubbed all over her naked body and a boy wearing a 10 foot long dildo with a microphone at the tip, which the sexy MC used to announce that it was time for the crowd to turn around and look behind us. The nude arial dancer spun around above our heads, suspended only by her hair! Then she took some chopsticks and stabbed her head. Fake blood splattered all over as she twirled around in the air. It’s called The Box Soho, and no photos were allowed inside. That night we got home around 3:00am, so we packed our bags and left for the subway at 5:00am without sleeping….rough, but definitely well worth it!
Day 4: Barcelona /// The trip was long. First a subway ride to the train station, then a train ride out into the countryside of London to the small Luton airport, then a shuttle bus, then a long wait at the airport. We finally arrived in Barcelona around 3:00pm and took a bus to the El Raval neighborhood. When we entered the loft-style apartment we had booked through Airbnb we got really excited. On the exterior, the street is dingy but with tons of character. It’s an old-school neighborhood mixed with all different cultures, young hipsters and elderly folk, with clothes hanging to dry off of every balcony. Once we opened the door, though, the apartment was completely renovated with a modern style kitchen and clean minimal decor. Exposed brick walls high ceilings and two huge wooden french doors leading to the sunny balcony that gave the place a stylish rustic feel. That first day we went to eat at a place called Rita Rogue, took a walk around and went to sleep early.
Day 5: Barcelona /// We had a tough time trying to find coffee in the morning. Most cafes were closed…it seems like Barcelonians get a late start to their days. One good thing about Barcelona is that it’s completely walkable. No need for subways, taxis, or bus…we walked everywhere. We explored El Raval, taking photos by the prolific graffiti and looking in vintage stores. We ate tapas at Otoxo 3 Hermanos, where we met a guy named Tino who suggested we rent some bicycles from his shop. Then we walked around the more touristy areas, ‘Las Ramblas’ and the Gothic Quarter, putting up stickers. La Rambla was very different than it has been in the past; less crowded and hardly any street performers, but the historic beauty of the gothic quarter is amazing! Later we indulged in the very first of caipirinha of the trip, which is a Brazilian drink that has always been both of our favorite drink since before we met. The bar we tried was called ’3334′ and the clever décor was made up of completely repurposed, up-cycled items. We got dressed and then hit the streets of el Raval, which were filled with a young crowd hanging out mixed with Filipino families getting off work. The music video for “AEIOU” by a group called Freeze was being projected on the wall when we walked into the first bar. Olympic Bar came next and turned out to be our favorite. The walls were painted turquoise, the caipirinhas were only $3.00 all day everyday, and it had a very hipster vintage vibe. We noticed a crew of girls with a flambouyant male. We introduced ourselves and learned that it was a Londoner, a Parisian, and a New Yorker all hanging out for the summer. We had no idea that it was Gay Pride week in Barcelona, so they took us to a pride festival that was happening at an outdoor plaza on the streets. We were impressed with everyone’s cool style and haircuts, and by the fact that the crowd was more than 50% female, as opposed to the mainly male-dominated gay events we’re used to. As we were walking home from the festival we saw a guy tagging up the walls and started chatting. His name was Sam, he was French, and he took us to meet his friends at Apolo, an after-hours club with a huge dance floor. We danced to some good house music, then left and peed in an alley next to an abandoned couch and baby seat!
Day 6: Barcelona /// Highlights: found a great restaurant called DoceTrece where we got awesome grilled pulpo (octopus) and yummy pan de tomate (Spanish tomatoe bread), took a very long walk all the way to the beach, and rented squeaky bikes from Tino for $5. We rode all around the gothic quarter and through stunning Ciutadella park, which had a beautiful elaborate fountain with spitting dragons and lots of people picnicking and chilling on the grass. Later we ate delicious empanadas at a place called “The Original” and went back to a couple bars in El Raval, including one called “Betty Ford”.
Day 7: Barcelona /// Highlights: watched a group of skaters tearing it up, got fresh juices at La Boqueria (huge outdoor food marketplace with vendors selling everything imaginable), and went vintage shopping on Carrer de Tallers and La Riera Baixas streets. When we got hungry we chose a café we hadn’t been to yet, sat down to order, and looked down to see a giant cockroach on the floor! We ran out and straight back to DoceTrece. They were having a fixed menu – an amazing 3 course meal that came with wine, salad, Sepia (a seafood similar to Octopus called “cuttlefish” that we had never heard of), and dessert for only 20 euros! It was our last Barcelona night, so we played it cool and went back to the 3334 Bar. We met Liang and his friend Jimmy (his Polish friend gave him this American name), who are architects that were participating in a competition to see who would be chosen to renovate the Real Madrid stadium.
Click below to scroll through our London/Barcelona photos and watch the VIDEO footage from our trip that Jeannette cut up to music!