Amsterdam Intermission: Spain

Siesta.

Daniel Lanciana
5 min readMay 7, 2023

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About

Julia and I moved to Amsterdam in 2022, but since:

  1. We didn’t yet have a lease
  2. We just recovered from Covid
  3. The Netherlands (and most of nearby Europe) was still in a strict Covid lockdown
  4. Cold, rainy weather
  5. Work-from-anywhere flexibility for ~3 weeks a year

…we decided to relocate to Spain for the month of January!

Jamón everywhere. Vermouth before meals. Delicious snacks (olives, tomato bread) with every drink. Disturbed art and playgrounds. Unlike New York, bodegas are wine bars. Sunshine and very little rain. Delicious food (ate five Michelin stars, put on several kilograms). Drank at four of the world’s top fifty bars.

Not a huge fan of Madrid, but I would happily live in Barcelona.

Edificio Metrópolis

Madrid

Grant architecture (plazas, buildings), TikTok street dancers, bear and the strawberry tree (symbol of city)? Felt like we did the city in only a few days, then took a train to Barcelona.

  • coffee: HanSo Café 2, Urbano Specialty
  • drink: Bee Beer (craft beer), La Vía Láctea (super cool dive bar), Sala Equis (cool bar in former XXX cinema), Salmon Guru (Top 50 bar worldwide, overrated), Viva Madrid (great bar)
  • see: Atocha train station (indoor rainforest with turtles), Gran Vía (Edificio Metrópolis), Mercado de San Miguel (nice-looking, tourist trap), Parque de El Retiro (giant lake, Velázquez Palace art, Palacio de Cristal art), Plaza Mayor, Catedral de la Almudena, Príncipe Pío lookout (sunset), Puerta del Sol (plaza), Puerta de Alcalá (arch), Real Jardin Botanico (lit up at night), Temple of Debod (in the open?)
  • do: Corral de la Morería (amazing Flamenco show), Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (Real Madrid v Valencia, stadium under construction, no beer or food?!)
  • eat: Casa Lucas, Chocolatería San Ginés (old), MAS (ham cups), Sobrino de Botin (oldest restaurant in the world, guitar players, cellar)
  • museums: Palacio de Comunicaciones (art exhibition), Reina Sofía (art museum)
  • shop: Chopper Monster (clothing), Mercado de San Fernando (great indoor food market)
Parc Güell

Barcelona

Wonky Gaudí architecture, narrow old town alleyways, fancy Blu-ray store (front?), caganer (pooping Christmas nativity figurines), Tió de Nadal (Christmas log that defecates presents when beaten!), marina, beach, mountains, bullfighting arenas. Stayed in an Airbnb near the mountain foothills for a few weeks, then a historic building amongst the downtown bars.

  • see: Agora Juan Andrés Benitez (graffiti street), Arco de Triunfo, beach, Cathedral of Barcelona (fighting geese in cloister), Columbus Monument, La Sagrada Familia (must see), MUHBA Temple d’August (Roman columns), Mural del Sida (Keith Haring replica)
  • do: Barcelona Supercomputing Center (tour), Camp Nou (beautiful stadium, great tour experience), Corpen Barcelona Destilería y Bebidas (gin distillery tour), Gran Gala Flamenco (concert), Montjuïc Castle (old fort, lookout)
  • coffee: Cafès El Magnífic, El Noa Noa, Garage, News & Coffee (newstand), Nomad, Syra, Three Marks
  • eat: A Casa Portuguesa (Portuguese tarts), Bodega La Puntual, Brunells (crossaints), Disfrutar (two Michelin stars, first in, last out), Eroica Caffè (great coffee, working space, excellent pasta), Hofmann (fancy desserts), La Cova Fumada (local spot, fantastic food), Fat Schmuck, Forn Sarret (bakery), Maai (healthy), Mercado de La Boqueria, Quimet & Quimet (excellent pintxos), Santa Caterina Market (Restaurant Pinotxo), Takumi (ramen), TomoAito (burgers), Xurreria (churros)
  • drink: Bar Marsella (old absinthe bar visited by Dali, Picasso and Hemingway; dusty bottles), Bar Salvatge (wine and cheese), Bodega La Palma (vermouth), Bodega Fermín (craft beer), Casa Almirall, Celler Florida (disco bathroom), Cerveseria Vaso de Oro, CocoVail (craft beer hall, football matches), Dr. Stravinsky (Top 50 bars), El Jardí (garden cocktails), Garage Beer Co, Mikkeller Bar (excellent beer, friendliest manager), Obama English Pub (racist pictures on the walls!), Paradiso (Top 50 bars, one of the best ever), Temple Bar (Irish pub), Two Schmucks (Top 50 bars), Vermuteria del Tano
  • museums: Casa Vicens (amazing architecture), CCCB (La Máscara, KKK exhibit), El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria (ruins), Joan Miró Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art, Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC, large), Picasso Museum
  • nature: Ciutadella Park, Pedralbes Palace Gardens (small), Parc Güell (great views, Gaudí architecture), Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc (swimming pool on top of a mountain)
  • shop: Bocins (food store), Casa Gispert (nuts), Endzlab (artist showroom), Mercado Botines (flea market under reflective roof), Nūda Market (organic food), Norma (greatest comic store — but no English, separate store for figurines), World Viceous (video games)
  • day trip: Montserrat (mountaintop monastery, church with Black Madonna you can walk up to, great views, hikes, funicular)
Ciutat de las Arts

Valencia

Incredible architectural series of buildings starting with Palau de les Arts — a must visit. Orange trees (fruit too sour), beach.

  • see: Església i Palau del Temple (church), House of Cats (hole in the wall), La Lonja de la Seda (Gothic exchange building), Parc Gulliver (weird playground), Porta de la Mar (arch), Torres de Serranos (old city gate), Valencia Cathedral & El Micalet (tower, impressive museum, human skulls, the holy grail), Valencia Station North (historic station), Umbracle (Astronomy Garden)
  • do: L’Oceanogràfic (aquarium), CaixaForum València (events), Hemisfèric (IMAX), Palau de les Arts (Les Contes D’Hoffman opera)
  • coffee: Flying Bean, Retrogusto Coffeemates, The Coffee
  • eat: Barraca Toni Montoliu (paella king, flamethrower, patatas bravas), Casa Montaña (old tavern, excellent food)
  • drink: La Fabrica de Hielo (also has events), Olhöps (craft beer)
  • museums: Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (science), Museo Nacional de Cerámica (beautiful building), Valencian Library (biblioteca)
  • shop: AIDA Books, Central Market (impressive fish selection), Llibreria Futurama (comics), Mercat de Colón (huge, undercover market), Mercat Central (Xoeo & Vero chocolate), Plaça de la Verge
Escales de la Catedral de Girona

Girona

Stayed in a seventh-century medieval house (!), beautiful wealthy town, picturesque alleyways, popular with professional cyclists (Lance Armstrong lived there).

  • coffee: Bar Cacao (coffee), Espresso Mafia
  • eat: Casa Cacao (chocolate shop, rooftop terrace), El Celler de Can Roca (three Michellin stars, first in, last out), La Fabrica (brunch, coffee)
  • see: Escales de la Catedral de Girona (Game of Thrones filmed on steps, epic), La Pera (sculpture), Sant Lluc de Girona, Pont de les Peixateries Velles (bridge), Muralles de Girona (historic city walls, nice lookouts), Lioness (statue, outdoor flea market),
  • museums: Centre d’Art Contemporani, Banys Àrabs (historical bathhouse), Salvador Dalí Foundation (day trip, one of the greatest museums in the world)
  • shop: D’Pau (beer shop)

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