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Mallorca & Barcelona

· 6 min read ·

Greetings from the airport in Barcelona. We’ve grown to know this place well, after flying to and from Mallorca, and now on our way back to the states. We arrived a bit early so that we could relax in the airport and not run to our gate like last time, and also so we could shoot out a quick update! 1

The view from “Bunkers” in Barcelona. We recommend bringing a bottle of vermouth, some ice, and an orange to garnish.
The view from “Bunkers” in Barcelona. We recommend bringing a bottle of vermouth, some ice, and an orange to garnish.

Island Time in Mallorca

Our time in Mallorca proved to be quite relaxing. We were staying in Cala Vinyes, which is a little town on the southern coast. Upon the (excellent) recommendation of our Airbnb host, we ended up renting a car. One thing to stay away from if you are going to be renting a car in Mallorca - the company OK Rent A Car! Aside from their bizarre uniforms, we were coerced into purchasing insurance in order to rent, which drastically increased the advertised cost of the rental (a “too good to be true” price of 13 euro for 3 days …). 🤔

Despite the rocky start, actually having the car in Mallorca ended up being very empowering, and we were able to explore parts of the island that otherwise would have been inaccessible, or would have taken much more time. Our first day, we hung out in Palma and hunted down some much-needed breakfast & water while we waited for our friend Hue to fly in from Zurich. With Hue safely in tow, we headed down the coast towards Cala Vinyes and our Airbnb, which was located right on the beach, complete with the seemingly requisite tiki bar.

Sheila and Hue doing Mallorcan acrobatics
Sheila and Hue doing Mallorcan acrobatics

The long weekend was a wonderful mix of relaxation and exploration, which is not always an easy thing to balance. We planned one big day trip, which consisted of driving from Palma up to Port de Sóller, making stops along the way at Bunyola, Jardins d’Alfàbia (HIGHLY recommend this cool spot, especially on a hot day), Sóller, and finally its Port for a dip in the sea. We drove back to Cala Vinyes by way of Playa Santa Ponsa for tapas and the spectacular sunset spot at the top of H10 Casa del Mar. This day was bursting at the seams with interesting sites, good eats, and hot hot hot weather.

The sun setting over Santa Posa
The sun setting over Santa Posa
Port de Sóller party tricks
Port de Sóller party tricks

Mallorca and the islands of Spain in general are known for their party scenes but there is so much else to see and do! In just 4 days, we barely scratched the surface and would certainly return for another trip, perhaps for some deep water soloing (climbing)!


Barcelona: Good Eats, Great Walks

Having previously spent a night in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, now it was time for us to share a few days together in the Gracia neighborhood: close to Parc Güell, the “Bunkers” del Carmel (just a short walk away, but be aware - the hill is steep and the ascent is decidedly un-gradual. Get ready to sweat! 😅 ), and home to several charming squares.

View from midway up the Bunkers hill, Barcelona
View from midway up the Bunkers hill, Barcelona

The first day was spent slowlyyyy making our way from Plaça Catalunya to Gracia, as we had an afternoon check in time for our Airbnb. Since it was incredibly hot and humid, we found relief by ducking into various shops and cafes. We continued to be impressed by Barcelona; the number of independent shops, the variety of hip bars/cafes, the friendly locals, and how one could seemingly travel on a shoe string (and eat well!). That evening we wandered Park Güell (the public park, not the Monumental Core featuring Gaudi’s work) and grabbed tapas in town.

The next morning was the 1st of July, so we decided to kick off the month with seaside yoga using Airbnb Experiences. Luckily the class was at 8:30am, so we caught the breeze off the ocean during the class and finished by the time the real heat of the day settled in.

James, vermouth in hand, on top of the Bunkers hill
James, vermouth in hand, on top of the Bunkers hill

We spent the rest of the day again wandering, and accidentally turned our “chill day” into a casual 11 hour Barcelona tour, capping things off with a sunset view of the city. Though both of us had been to Barcelona before, neither had hiked up to the “Bunkers” del Carmel. This is a super cool place to experience the sunset, see city and mountain views, and toast to the closing of another good day. Most people hike up with friends, with aperitifs and snacks in tow. Following suit, we tossed vermouth, olives, and bread in a backpack and even brought glasses and ice because we were feeling like going the extra mile 👌.

Sheila with her new dress
Sheila with her new dress

The next day was our last full day in Barcelona and we took full advantage. We visited Syra Coffee in Gracia to enjoy some delicious cold brew, then sat outside and watched people go by as we sipped our coffees. Afterwards, we found a cool shop and Sheila got a light summer dress (heat wave necessities). We wanted to return to the Gothic Quarter - so, braving the heat of the day, we did just that, after a quick lunch stop at Bow Cafe (which we actually saw from afar while heading to our Airbnb, and gladly returned to check out). Their quiche and vegan poke bowl proved to both be excellent - a welcome lunch option for anybody traveling through Barcelona!

Our finale tour of the Gothic Quarter primarily focused on getting champagne at El Xampanyet, which in addition to champagne also serves a variety of tapas and pan con tomate (unreal french baguettes drizzled with olive oil and fresh tomatoes). The staff there work tirelessly to fill glasses and serve food to a mostly standing room crowd; the frantic yet relaxed atmosphere is a true experience, and we would highly recommend a stop there. At seemingly random intervals (perhaps when people pay with a card? we speculate) staff members ring a bell, sometimes by slamming it repeatedly against a taxidermied hoof of some sort that hangs overhead along with various dried meats. Again, it’s an experience - if you’re in Barcelona, you should definitely go.

After a glass of champagne we headed to Antic Teatre, which sits closeby in the Gothic Quarter and features excellent drinks and atmosphere. Though the sun overhead was mucho calor, the shaded courtyard and blanco vermouth we enjoyed kept us quite cool.

Later that afternoon, we got to meet up with our friend Palma, whose forthcoming Meet the Host post will feature her hospitality during our time in Switzerland. We’re so lucky that with both Palma and Hue we were able to see good friends in such different locales while traveling abroad. It being our last night, we decided to roll the dice on our choice of dinner spot by wandering Gracia - a risky prospect, but between our dinner and the vegan gelato we ended up having for dessert, we got to bed well fed and satisfied.


Sheila, ft. Biggie Smalls via Gracia street art
Sheila, ft. Biggie Smalls via Gracia street art

Our time in Barcelona went by quickly and we enjoyed it immensely. In the future, we will be putting together a tourist guide to Barcelona, similar to our guide to Slovenia, but for now we’ll sign off!


  1. Note that we did NOT in fact have enough time to shoot out a quick update, so we actually sent this out two days later. (Just so we stay honest here 😉 )

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Adventure travel blog by James Simone & Sheila Murray. Travel along with them on their backpacking trip(s) as they actively explore the American West, Europe and beyond:

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