Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO BARCELONA, SPAIN / BY KAYLA KURIN

Barcelona looks like a city straight out of fairy tale.

You’ll discover many secrets wandering through the streets of this Mediterranean city full of artists, architects, and rebels turned authors who tell its story.

Whether you’re transported to another world walking through Gaudi’s’ architecture or witnessing the surrealist paintings of Dali and Picasso, there’s a little bit of magic wherever you go in Barcelona.

Before you go:

If you’re like me and enjoy reading novels about places you’re traveling to, these reads will give you a glimpse into the city and the heroines of Catalonia:

  • Solitud by Victor Catala (ie. Caterina Albert) was published under a male pen name to avoid controversy. And thus enters our first heroine!
  • The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron is a novel set in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
  • The angst-ridden executive by Manuel Vazquez Montalban is a fun who-dun-it detective story set in the streets of Barcelona!

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Start the day with a hearty breakfast as we’ve got a lot of adventure ahead of us!

Like a local grab a pastry and cafe con leche from your local cafe, or if you’re craving something more substantial, find your way to El Petit Princep in El Borne to indulge in a breakfast fit for a little prince (or princess).

Get to know Gaudi.

To kick off our adventures, jump on a bus to Park Guell. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re wandering through your own fairy tale, this is the place.

Gaudi’s stunning and unique architecture gives the place a magical feeling. You can spend an hour or two wandering around this park and taking in views of the city below.

To continue our Gaudi fix, walk or grab a bus to the Sagrada Familia.

You’ll notice the construction amidst the turrets, but don’t feel discouraged, this is part of the attraction! The church has been under construction for over 100 years with no end in (near) site!

The interior is said to resemble a (forbidden) forest, and the outside boasts work from 4 different architects. It’s easy to imagine this giant gothic church as a setting in many a heroine’s tale.

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Make a literary break for your cafe con leche.

Stretch your legs by wandering further downhill (all downhill roads lead to the water) until you find yourself at the Pudding Bar. If you’re short on reading material, pop into Laie across the road with a selection of books in different languages.

Then head into the Pudding Bar for a funky Alice in Wonderland themed coffee and reading break. Be inspired to break out the journal and enjoy the surroundings.

Explore the gothic quarter.

Continue down Carrer de Pau Claris into the gothic quarter. Get lost wandering around the narrow streets and enjoy the architecture. Keep an eye out for the Barcelona Cathedral, home to one of the city’s first heroines and Patron Saints, Eulalia.

Eulalia is one of the first Christian martyr’s from the Roman period. At just 13 years old she received such punishments as being rolled around the city in a barrel full of knives for refusing to give up Christianity. She is now the co-Patron saint of Barcelona.

The Rubio bridge next to the Cathedral and settled amongst gargoyles is a beautiful site.

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Lunch at Barcelona’s most famous tapas bar in La Boqueria market.

When you’re ready for lunch, cross Las Ramblas to get to La Boqueria, the most famous food market in Barcelona. Enjoy seeing the variety of Catalonian foods, and then find a seat at Bar Pinotoxo for traditional tapas, fresh seafood, and a lunchtime glass of Cava.

If you have the time, wander around hip Raval, or simply follow Ramblas down to the water until you see the giant Columbus statue.

The crafty geographer may notice that Columbus is actually pointing east, the opposite direction of the Americas to which he sailed. Several theories try to explain this, but my favourite is that he’s pointing towards his hometown in Genoa, Italy.

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Learn about the history of Catalonia.

Follow the main road next to the water, passing the yachts, and then swing left into the Museum of Catalonian History.

The museum houses 2 floors of exhibits, with stunning visual displays starting from ancient times and leading to the 20th century. It’s fascinating to see the different empires Catalonia passed under, and understand the unique history of the Catalonian people.

The museum also hosts a rooftop patio with great views of Barceloneta and the Mediterranean!

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a Heroine

Sunsets, seafood, and sipping on cocktails.

Meander your way among the streets of Barceloneta, and watch the sunset on the beach.

When you’re done enjoying the sand and the waves, make your way to La Bona Sort in Borne for some traditional tapas for dinner. Ask to be seated in the garden (jardin) to feel like you’re sitting in your own secret garden. The grilled calamari and pulpo de Galicia are two of my favourite dishes!

While you may be ready to head home after a long day of sightseeing, the city is just awakening.

If you’re ready for a night fit for a heroine, head to Eldiset or Sub Rosa in Borne for some cocktails in an interesting atmosphere, or if you’re up for it, jump in a cab to Old Fashioned in trendy Gracia to be transported back to the 1920’s while sipping on one of their professionally made cocktails.

If you have more than a day in Barcelona, spend a morning in Babelia cafe, designed specially for the bibliophile. And remember that the best thing one can do in Barcelona is get lost…

Enjoy your journey!

Barcelona, Spain / Fit for a HeroineKayla is a chronic traveler, writer, and flying (yoga) instructor for Lumos Your Life! Currently bunkered up in Europe, but originally from Canada, she’s visited, lived, and worked in over 40 countries. Read more about her adventures working & traveling on her websiteTwitter, and Instagram.

Xandra Recommends > try adding Kayla’s 15-minute Yoga for Sleep routine to your evening ritual.

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

What to See at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

What to See at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

As an Edinburgh resident, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the world’s largest performing arts festival for three straight Augusts.

With over 2,000 shows to choose from, even a day trip to the festival is full-on. This year I’m limiting myself to two shows per day; pacing is important.

One of the best things about the festival is that you can sample the entire spectrum of what performing arts has to offer.

Through seeing lots of shows here, I’ve been able to identify what kind of theatre I like most: inventive and multi-genre storytelling, insightful and clever comedy, performers who radiate passion, and theatre that gives you food (as in literal, edible food. Not just food for thought.). 

What to see at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

in order of start time; updated live throughout August

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

Roundabout, 12:00 (18-20 August only)

The premise is fascinating: a bill is going through parliament that would limit each citizen’s daily spoken word count. The latest piece of new writing to really excite me lately, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons is about love, articulation, and human rights. 

Austentatious

Underbelly George Square, 13:30

The first year I saw Austentatious at the Fringe, I ended up going three times, which is huge for my carefully curated Fringe calendar. This group performs an improvised Jane Austen novel, inspired by an audience-generated title drawn out of a top hat. I’m picky about my Austen, and they live up to her wit.

Tago: Korean Drum II

Assembly Rooms, 15:15

The last show I saw last year was Tago, a Korean drumming performance. It is loud, energetic, and powerful, and the performers are so joyous and present. An even better finale to the festival than fireworks. 

Buzz: A New Musical

Pleasance, 15:30

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous and embarrassed to be going to a musical about vibrators. I was quickly won over by the spirit, humour, and intelligence of the production, which, through song, questions the shame surrounding the subject.
It has the pep, wit, and female empowerment of Legally Blonde: The Musical, but with the history of the vibrator instead of law school. Hilarious and self-aware, Buzz is non-stop fun from start to finish.

C’est La Vegan

Counting House, 19:00

A thoughtful yet not-too-serious voice on mental illness and wellness, Dave Chawner gives me hope with the way that his shows raise awareness for the topic. This year his free show is about vegan.

Pianologues

Summerhall, 19:40

Will Pickvance at the piano is magic – not only because of his incredible ability, but for the passion and attentiveness that he has for his art, and how he monologues about his life as an artist while he plays. Like a cup of tea, but a show. An enlightening and relaxing hour.  

The Shape of the Pain

Summerhall, 19:30

Incredible, beautiful. I have never felt a play so physically, and this is precisely the point: to describe the indescribable, to illustrate the ‘shape of the pain’.

 

Colin Cloud: Dare

Pleasance Grand, 20:00

Colin Cloud is a master showman who plays death, much to the audience’s horror and delight. His show leaves me speechless. Or more precisely, his show leaves me going “whaaaaat? how did he do that?”

 

Last year’s show revealed more explanation of his methods, which made me even more in awe of his ability to carry them out. This year is more of a mystery – an impressive, manipulative mystery, that even manages to slip in some powerful inspiration on living life on your own terms.

Hot Brown Honey

Assembly Roxy, 21:00

The ultimate party against the patriarchy. If your flavour of rebellion (like mine) is less ‘shouty musical protest’ and more ‘sit quietly and read and write in the corner’, then just know what you’re getting you’re self into. It is fierce in every sense of the word: empowering talent and biting aggression, and you’re encouraged to cheer nonstop. Sound like your idea of fun? Then party on!

Chris Turner: What a Time to Be Alive

Pleasance, 21:45

The quippiest way to get you to see Chris Turner is to rave about his signature improvised raps, but I return to his shows every year for the life insights woven into nerdy comedy. Plus this year he’s doing a show about cats. 

DollyWould

Summerhall, various times

I have yet to see this year’s show on Dolly Parton, but Sh!t Theatre’s clever, comedic, and poignant 2016 piece on London’s housing crisis has stuck with me all year. While I left their two-woman show laughing and feeling entertained (they have great props, and there were some musical theatre bits), the facts surrounding important issues really sunk in. 

Further places to research:

When in doubt, consult Summerhall‘s progamme. – their curated events calendar often includes the most thoughtful pieces, and narrow your shortlist from ‘super overwhelming’ to ‘almost manageable’.

Lyn Gardner, my favourite theatre critic has led me to many a good play. Consult her Fringe preview for suggestions, or look up reviews for your favourite play and see which critics are on the same page as you with their opinions.

Ed Fringe Review – the student-run publication that brought me to my first Fringe as a writer (so am I biased? Maybe. But I still think they’re great) – catch some of the smaller, ‘fringier’ events that might not get covered by bigger names in press. They send two reviewers to each show, so you can get multiple opinions at once. Great for spotting hidden gems.

P.S. I’ll be posting my favourites during the festival on Twitter. If you’re looking for something to see, get in touch! I love helping people pick out shows.

little summer adventure list

little summer adventure list

How to get me to do anything:

Write a little check box next to a task. I will feel compelled to do it, just to tick that box. To achieve the gold star.

Put a deadline on something and say ‘I dare you’? Oh man. Consider it done. 

[it’s kind of a problem].

I am terrified of letting deadlines pass.

Changing my mind and deciding not to keep a promise to myself is pretty much unheard of.

For the past few summers I’ve set an annual birthday list of adventures, and while this is fun for most of the year, I’ve noticed that July has felt less like my month of birthday celebration, and more like crunch time, the final sprint to the finish line of a marathon.

And so I cut the cord and let it go.

eeeeahhhahhhh

I think this was very brave of me, nixing my list so close to the deadline. I felt a moment of liberation.

I’d been meaning to go to the climbing gym to do one of my birthday list things, but dreaded it, feeling pressured by the task. But when I let go of the obligation, I felt myself wanting to go on a whim. 

Here’s what I realised:

I need to start living in the present rather than scheduling a time in the future to live in the present.

This year I’m replacing my birthday list with little seasonal adventure lists. Just 7 things per season that help me relish the world I’m in, in its current condition.

my little summer adventure list

I asked for suggestions on Facebook, and got some lovely responses!

The beach is my number one. I love swimming in the ocean, then warming up again in the sun wrapped in a slightly sandy towel before eating lunch while soaking up the sea air. Mmmm bliss” – Kirsty

 

Beach is definitely my favorite – I love living near Lake Michigan! I love to be in or on the water. But I also love all the classic things… Picnics, sidewalk chalk, flying kites, bicycling…” – @annakanski 

 

Ooooh I love this idea! Picnics, hosting a yard sale (is that an adventure?  🤔), stargazing, the beach, the drive in…so many!” – @sarahstarrs_

little summer adventure list

my little summer adventure list

1. have a picnic

2. camp in the cairngorms

3. read a book of poetry

4. play guitar outdoors

5. go swimming

6. visit a rooftop bar

7. go to the beach

what’s on your list?

P.S. I’ve just updated the Events calendar with some new tea parties and events. Take a look!