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notes from Spain

With pandemic restrictions lifting, it feels like we all have long lists of bucket-list destinations to tackle. FUTURE LYNN contributor Alexandra Porter and I were chatting a few months ago, and discovered that we were both headed to Spain within weeks of each other (Alexandra heading to Barcelona, while I had chosen Madrid). We both had great trips, with autumn being an ideal time to visit the country with cooler weather and much smaller crowds. Here are a few highlights of both cities!


Barcelona: Citizen Café

Alexandra – My aunt and I were on the hunt for a nearby cafe to grab a bite our first morning and Citizen Café was a few blocks away from where we stayed. Coincidentally, this ended up being a cute little shop with a yummy brunch, cozy atmosphere and lovely lattes. The communal tables with pillows made for a homey feel too.

Madrid: Hanso Café

Kathy – I admit I liked Hanso so much that I went on 3 separate occasions within a week. They actually have two locations fairly close to each other, so I was able to see them both. The Asian influenced menu has wonderful matcha lattes and also a delicious gluten-free okonomi yakistyle waffle. I am more of a savory girl for breakfast, so I would eat that waffle every weekend if I lived there.


Barcelona: Vegan Junk Food

Alexandra – I love food. But, not all food loves me. I have lots of allergies (fish, tree nuts, gluten, dairy) and I’m vegetarian. As intense as that sounds, I’m able to find good eats if I do my research. That’s when I came across Vegan Junk Food! I mostly eat salad bowls and tacos so it’s rare I can indulge in comfort food that checks all the boxes. I ordered the Heppi Ribs made from pea protein and WOW. I was so enamored with the rich, juicy BBQ I didn’t even snap a pic to share here. Hands down, the best ribs I’ve ever had.

Madrid: Juana lo Loca

Kathy – Hands down the best bite I had was at Juana la Loca. This tapa dish was called “Niguiris de Anguila Teriyaki con Foie Gras,” which was essentially braised eel with a Japanese style unagi sauce, topped with foie, all delicately perched on top of seasoned white rice, and then nestled into a crispy nori taco shell. Blew my mind.


Barcelona: Röa Clothes & Design

Alexandra – Roaming through the historic and artsy neighborhood of El Born, we found Röa boutique. The painted white brick is the perfect backdrop to showcase colorful clothing and jewelry from local Barcelona artists. The selection was just as bright as the owner herself, who lit up when I shared that her storefront caught my eye earlier in the day. My aunt picked out this unique pearl and chain necklace to give to her friend.

Madrid: Lurdes Bergada – Syngman Cucala

Kathy – I stumbled across this store called Lurdes Bergada + Syngman Cucala in Madrid’s Salamanca neighborhood. It stood out to me since the clothing was more neutral in color and relaxed in style (Madrid’s women’s fashion seems a bit traditional, with bright dresses, knits and blazers). It’s a brand originating in Barcelona, named after the mother/son designer team. Although the company has been making clothing for decades, the clothes feel very current with it’s voluminous shapes and gender neutral pieces. I bought some olive trousers made from lyocell (aka tencel) that I LOVE – incredibly soft and comfortable and they go with everything. If I had been traveling with a bigger suitcase, I might have gone overboard at this store.


Barcelona: The View at Tope

Alexandra – There are many memories I play back from this trip in my mind like a movie. Dinner at Tope on the rooftop of the Hoxton hotel takes the cake. This moment had it all — tacos, mojitos, panoramic views of the city and an incredible sunset. After getting conflicting intel from locals and a bartender, we learned that the Hoxton is in the Poblenou neighborhood, an area so up and coming, some aren’t sure what the district lines are yet. Looking out at the vista, the modern Torre Glòries against the rambling hillside of historic structures there’s a juxtaposition of old and new. The Catalan have a phrase, ‘seny i rauxa’, meaning something along the lines of ‘balance through opposites’. As I was doing trip research, I was curious how I would experience that in real time. There in this moment, it clicked.

Madrid: Guernica by Picasso, in the Museo Reina Sofía

Kathy – I do love visiting museums when I travel, not necessarily as an avid art lover or connoisseur, but just as someone who enjoys beautiful buildings housing beautiful objects. The Museo Reina Sofia is a stunning set of buildings, consisting of an older 18th century former hospital merged with a recent extension designed by Jean Nouvel. It was a marvel to walk through the old and new rooms, with pieces from some of Spain’s most renowned artists. But I will always remember the moment I came into the room that houses Guernica, Picasso’s infamous 1937 work. I have read about and seen pictures of this work since my teen years, but nothing compares to seeing the painting in real life. I simply stood there in awe for a few minutes. (It was definitely much larger in real life than I had expected). Since no photography was allowed, I made a point to visit the gift shop and purchase a post card to place in my journal.

Thank you letting us share our favorite memories of Spain with you. We hope you are able to have your own travel adventures, now that the world has mostly opened up again. Take care, and safe journeys! 🖤

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