Posts filed under spain

My Barcelona | El Nacionel


Before I dive in to this incredible spot in Barcelona, can I just say: I LOVE SPAIN. It’s got so much of what I love about France... just cheaper, it has incredible architecture, the food scene is top notch and *cough* it has friendlier natives. (Sorry, Paris, you’re beautiful but can kinda be aggressive and emotional.) It just feels like how I remember what Europe once felt like... a bit less run over, a bit less homogenised. The Spanish culture still feels so incredibly in tact. (Or should I say Catalonian, since we have been in Barcelona?)

But enough about how incredible Spain is... let’s talk about a good place for lunch or dinner when you find yourself in Barcelona.


My parents actually lead us to this place- “a market to eat in.” I had something like La Boqueria in mind, but when we turned off the main thoroughfare of Passeig de Gràcia  towards the tiny passageway to El Nacionel, I realised we were in for a total treat.


While this is a bit like a market, it’s not the standard hodge podge of farmers and artisans selling food. It’s more like a posh food court with various places to eat in it.


Get some delicious Italian, fresh seafood, French brasserie food or grab some Spanish tapas at their various little restaurants. Whatever you’re up for, there seems to be a pretty option for you there.


The interior are perfect and the whole atmosphere is just airy and relaxed. The clientele is a nice mix of locals and tourists who look like they know what they are doing. Overall, I’d say that El Nacionel is a great spot for lunch in Barcelona after you’ve been wandering along and shopping along Las Ramblas. 


When you’re done, don’t forget to grab an ice cone before you hit the road. The coconut is pretty delicious, if I do say so myself.


Find all of my favourite places in Spain here in my travel guide.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 17, 2018 and filed under spain, travel.

My Barcelona | Hole

While we were in Barcelona, Tyler & I passed a cute little breakfast spot with people spilling out the front door and chatting over tiny tables sitting on cushions along the windowsill and wooden crates. Sunlight was pouring inside the cafe and the sound of espresso being made wafted out the open door. The scene seemed so pleasant and happy... and we wished we had time to stop and be a part of what was going on.


But we had our kids with us and were marching along with our family to La Sagrada Familia, so on we went.

The next day, we waited (and waited) for our driver to arrive to take us to the port for our cruise. The driver called and was not going to be there for another forty minutes, so Tyler grabbed me and asked me on a lightening speed coffee date/run back to the place from yesterday.

My mom kept Harrison, we put the two girls in a stroller each. (Viola loves not having to walk when she has the luxury of a stroller at her disposal- ha!) And off we popped! As it always is the case, it ended up being about twice as far away as we remembered but we got there, ordered, got to hang out for a bit- enjoying the fact that we had actually pulled off making it back and trying the place that had looked so good to us both when we had past. I love that Tyler and I still have those moments after all the years and places we have been together. 


And I think, maybe all those places and moments have fine tuned us a bit because Hole (the name of the cafe, as it turned out) was one of those really good spots that you’re glad to discover. The owner was nice, the coffee was good, they made incredible fresh squeezed juices that glowed bright happy colours, pancakes sat fluffily on top of each other with Nutella plopped on top and people chatted happily amongst themselves- just as we had thought the day before. 


And then hoofed it back to the hotel in time to load up our bags.


It was a nice little spot to discover and next time, I’m hoping to stay for a bit longer!

HOLE | Carrer de València, 352, 08009 Barcelona

Find more of my favourite places in Barcelona in my Spain guide.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 15, 2018 and filed under eat, spain, travel.

Granada: It's All White.


Earlier this week, I got the chance to visit La Alhambra in Granada. I've heard about La Alhambra, but I'll tell you the truth: I was blown away with how beautiful it was. It's hard to describe, but I really liked the way Lonely Planet summarized it, so I'll leave it to them.


The Alhambra is Granada’s – and Europe’s – love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture, the Alhambra has long enchanted a never-ending line of expectant visitors. As a historic monument, it is unlikely it will ever be surpassed – at least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this. (Read more here.)


Much better than I could have done. My summary can only be summed up as shaded courtyards, the smell of sweet oranges, cool white marble and sprawling gardens.

Now that you have a bit of an idea of what La Alhambra is, you're gonna need to take a look at it's amazing architecture and design. I was blown away... and the thing is, it's not just a tiny section of the building that is in this intricate style.

It's an entire hilltop fortress. It sprawls over the mountain and building after building mirrors this gorgeous craftsmanship. Yet, while the skill is endlessly dotted around the entire fortress, each area is unique. You really have to see it to believe it.

Also, I've been getting asked to bring back my style/shopping guides that I used to pair with my posts. So in the spirit of the soon-coming warmer months and the gorgeous white walls of La Alhambra, here are some easy picks that I'd love to take back with me on my next visit to Granada.


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 12, 2016 and filed under travel, spain, shopping.

Pack Your Bags: Granada, Spain

This morning, I work up really early and headed out to Heathow. One almond croissant, three beverages, and two flights later- I landed in Granada, Spain for a work trip.

The weather is sunny, the skies are blue, my work friends are here... and the living is easy.

We hit the ground running with a huge lunch and then went to visit the Cathedral of Granada. It was spectacular, and very worth visiting- if you're in Granada. The contrast of light white walls and ceilings with the gold ornamentation is really striking. I've never seen another church quite like it.

This afternoon was spent catching up over coffee, hot chocolates and one giant plate of churros that cost €2 shaded by giant orange trees. 

And now? Well, we're headed to Arabic Baths for a little swim and hamman massage.

To be honest, if you're ever going to leave your family at home for the night... this might be the best way to do it. It's always a weird feeling to leave family, but you know... also nice to get some space to remind you how much you love them being around. (And because you don't have to share any churros with them either.)

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 7, 2016 and filed under travel, spain, pack your bags.

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona Metro

I sometimes get lazy when traveling.

"Lazy" in the sense that I don't want to take the time

to learn the public transportation routes,

and I'd rather just walk endlessly

 to where ever it is that we are headed.

thank goodness my husband doesn't read my blog, or he would beat me for that.

In Barcelona,

to reach the famous Park Guell-

you either have to pony up for a taxi

or hop on the metro.

(It's a haul out there!)

We opted for... both.

Taxi there (about €15 there),

and then metro back.

I loved the metro!

It was super easy,

super cheap,

and not overly chaotic.



If you're looking for some of the big sites

in Barcelona,

here are the stops you can find them at

-and what line they are one via their color-

for quick reference:



(all are nearby and about equidistant)



(be prepared for a 20 minute walk up to the Park from here...

there's a small bus that can take you up to the top!




(Yes, both lines have this stop.)



(southern end),






(northern side)












Oh, and one more Barcelona-transport fact:

You can't take the metro to/from the airport.

You'll either need to take the shuttle bus

or a taxi...

If you can spare the €25 for a taxi,

it's nice to get the door to terminal dropoff!

(Since most cities are so much more expensive than that, 

we jumped at the chance to have a car take us.)

But if you want info on the airport shuttle,

you can check here

for more information on tickets & times.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under "barcelona", "spain", "travel tips", pack your bags, spain, travel.

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona

Right after my crazy semester ended in Dublin,

Tyler & I woke up the next morning

and walked (read: crawled) out of our flat

headed towards a flight to Barcelona.

Some of my best friends from high school

were headed there for a weekend.

There's a bigger/emotional back story

to our get away,

but the bottom line is:

sometimes you just need

to hang out with your best friends

in an awesome place.

It's healing for the soul.

By 11am, we were at our hotel

and ready to take on the day.

Or at least,

find a good place for lunch.

Thanks to the amazing people of Instagram

for the great recommendations.

We had such a good time

just taking it easy

and enjoying the sun

of this welcoming city.

Affordable, delicious, kind...

as crammed as it was in our schedule,

a weekend in Spain

was really good for Tyler & I.

Excuse the iPhone/Instagram pics...

my camera charger is broken!

Here is my "list" from our trip

to Barcelona.


We loooooved this hotel. 

It was about a 10 minute walk to La Rambla,

but we like to walk

and it was just around the corner from the MANGO outlet.

The restaurant was lovely,

the rooms were huge,

and the price- amazing: €61 a night.


*   *   *


This isn't a shop or a cafe,

but an entire area of town

in the central part.

You won't have to go far 

to find this gem of a neighborhood.

It really reminded me of Paris' Marais.

Cool shops, great eats, and a really good vibe.

You'll like it, I just know it.

Here are some of the places we loved in the Born.

*   *   *


This tiny shop has baby clothes that make me want to cry.

Someday, when I'm a big time blogger (read: sarcasm),

I'll go back and buy the place out.

The clothes are gorgeous.

Even Viola knew it was some place really special.


 This is a gorgeous bakery has amazing cakes, cookies, 

and- what did you say? The Crofre? 

A croissant & belgian waffle's love child?



This tapas place....

just perfect for your daily dose of

patatas bravas, peppers padron & jamon croquettes.

And with glasses of cava for €2.50

and most of the tapas plates from €2-4 each,

you'll walk out with some cash in your pocket 

to buy a souvenir at...


Just down the street from Tantarantana,

this is one of the cutest boutiques I've been in

in a long, long time.

I bought a scarf.

The sweaters are dreamy, 

but I was shopping in a little lower price range

with Christmas coming up.

When I go back with my Scrooge McDuck millions

to buy out Muna,

I'll be sure to go back here

to loot the place, too.

It's great stuff.

* * *

Okay, The Born is great,

but there is life outside it, too.

Another little cluster of good spots

comes on the coast,

right off the Barceloneta metro stop.

MakaMaka Beach Burger Cafe-

  This is a great burger place

right along the beach of Barcelona.

Not only does the setting have a great atmosphere

(Spanish hipsters + surfer chill),

but, whaddaya know,

the food is great, too.

I went big:

The Big Maka.

Bacon, onions, grilled peppers, cheese, BBQ sauce.

So good.


 After you've had your burger & fries

at MakaMaka,

go across the street to Las Fritas,

where you can get (more) french fries.

This stand sells only fries...


On a sunny day,

walking along the coast

with a paper cone of fries

would be, well, muy bien.

{Editor's Note: There Is also a realllly good churro stand across the street from Las Fritas.

Go getcha some (their enormous "small" is €5 + €2 chocolate sauce.)


Obviously, I didn't even mention

most of the tourist attractions

in Barcelona...

Or any actually,

so let's do a quick recap of those, too.

Those, most well-known are:

Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Picasso Museum

and the lush food stalls of La Bouqueria....


you're beautiful.

See you soon, I hope.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "barcelona", "spain", "travel", spain, travel.