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Barcelona & Valencia, Spain

How Spain? Owie and I decided that if we were going to take a trip together, we should see if we could find one that would satisfy one need each: she wanted to go somewhere warm and beachy, and I wanted to go somewhere with buzzing cities. And, due to this and that, we’d only have a week to pull something off.

We went with Spain– famous nightlife, Travel-Channel-level beaches, and top notch food. Oh, and why not see one of the most popular sports teams in the world play some soccer!

I’d say we f***ing nailed it.

Leg 1

  • Drive from Grand Rapids to Chicago, take the El to ORD
  • Fly overnight to BCN
  • Spend the day getting used to Barcelona, end up on rooftop bar

Leg 2

  • Sprint to the train within 3 minutes of departure to Valencia, Spain
  • Bike around the city a few days
  • Joined a hostel pub crawl (til 3am…)
  • Find paella in its origin city

Leg 3

  • Meet some hometown friends back in Barcelona
  • Walking/drinking tour through the districts
  • Walk to a peak to view the city
  • Watch Barcelona beat Real Betis at Camp Nou
  • Visit the beach to wind it all down
  • So, so much Spanish food in-between

Barcelona is loud, it stays up late, and it eats like a king at every single meal.

design for the city barcelona, spain

Valencia was the origin of the most amazing food in Spain, and possibly, the world: paella. Or at least, that’s what we knew about it. And it turned out, while there, we did find the most amazing slab of saffron, scallops, and rice. Every rumor you’ve heard about the Spanish dish is true. However, that was by far the smallest surprise to come on the trip.

spain’s biggest surprise

In the fall of 2017, I went on a trip around Europe. While there, I stayed at a hostel in Budapest, Hungary, and became fast friends with a guy from Brazil named Thom. That also happened to be the wildest hostel I’ve ever stayed at, and I met many one-night friends from around the world – so when he left the next day, we said “safe travels” and that was that.

Cut to fall of 2019, and I’m on a similar style pub crawl (that didn’t even start until 11pm!) in Valencia, Spain, with a whole new hostel and no one I know within 500 miles. I knew this guy looked familiar, but that was an unconnected trip in an unconnected country to our current scenario – there’s no way I’d run into someone I knew on a previous international pub crawl. When I finally drank up the nerve to ask what country he was from, though, he responded with “you’re that guy from Michigan!” – followed with two very loud cheers from two very loud men.

I don’t know what the odds of that intersection are, but it’s without question the least likely thing to ever happen in my life.

Derek Mohr and Thom Pontes
design for the city valencia, spain
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