Summer was fading rapidly when we decided we hadn’t had our fill of sunshine just yet. Barcelona was quickly suggested and booked, with temperatures still hitting the mid-20s and flights costing as little as £50 return.
With the help of Airbnb, we found a lovely family home filled with bizarre (a rusted shotgun stuffed with daisies) and somewhat luxurious (two large sun terraces) finishing touches at just £70 each for a three night stay.
Our temporary home sat in the middle of La Segrera. Although there wasn’t much to entertain us in the surrounding areas, there were plenty of cafès, restaurants and supermarkets, and we were only a fifteen minute journey from the beach. Armed with our Hola BCN! metro passes, which grants unlimited underground travel from just €14, we set out to say goodbye to summer.
The blonde sandy beach at Barceloneta occupied our days. Always our first port of call each morning, we stuck around as long as we could, sleeping in the sand, swimming in the cool sea and bracing the cold as the evening arrived. Unable to tear ourselves away for lunch, we stumbled into a seafood and tapas restaurant overlooking the sea. Although chosen purely for proximity to the beach, Agua was a great choice. We gorged on shellfish, cava and tapas, then rushed back for one last nap before the sun went down.
Fortunately our trip coincided with the annual La Mercè festival, a happy accident. For five days at the end of September Barcelona lights up its streets with this free festival, historically to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. These days it’s more of an excuse for the city to flood out onto the streets for a weeklong party. The festivities included the Catalan Wine Fair, parades featuring papier maché giants, live music into the night and a pyro-musical display, with synchronized fireworks, water fountains and music.
Another highlight was our visit to Can Paixano, a bustling deli behind a clandestine hole in the wall serving up glass after glass of pink bubbles and delicious tapas. For over fifty years Can Paixano has been feeding and watering Barcelona for a very modest fee (we ate like pigs but paid no more than €7 each). Five of us crammed inside one night and were instantly presented with overflowing glasses of cava. We drank and ate until the doors started to close - plates of mysterious cheeses, warm floury bread and rich spiced meats - leaving us with a sweet taste in our mouths, to keep us until next summer.