Turning 40 In Barcelona

Eek I’m 40! Earlier this month I reached that milestone birthday and I celebrated without a party or cake. Don’t feel too sad for me though because I went away to Barcelona for 3 days with my partner and NO CHILDREN! 

It has been a long time since my partner and I have been away together alone (over 6 years). It’s even been a long time since we have spent any quality time together without the frequent interruption of children or work commitments so I was very excited about the holiday. I was slightly concerned whether we would remember how to talk to each other, but with hour upon hour of child free time promised I was happy to take that chance.

A view over Southern Barcelona from Jardins del Mirador
Me in Barcelona

I love Barcelona, it’s a great European city, but it wasn’t where we were meant to be. Back when G turned 40, way back before we had children together, we went on an amazing holiday together to Grenada. I had never been on this sort of luxury holiday before and spending the days exploring the Caribbean island, swimming under waterfalls and lounging on the beach felt like a once in a lifetime experience. Except I wanted to do something equally amazing for my 40th. 

I decided years ago that I wanted to go somewhere AMAZING for my 40th and even lined my Mum up to stay for a week and look after my children, but then the pandemic hit and the joy of planning a holiday was lost to me. Yes I knew holidays were still possible, but I didn’t feel able to get excited about a big holiday that could be cancelled with no notice due to so many different reasons. And I didn’t want to spend all my savings on a holiday that I wouldn’t allow myself to look forward to, so I shelved the holiday idea. Until just a few months ago when with my 40th birthday looming I was chatting with friends and I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could get excited about a weekend away in Europe. So I got planning...

Booking Our Holiday To Barcelona

Barcelona was my number 1 choice when thinking of a few nights away in Europe. I had been there before many years ago and I knew I liked the city. It wasn’t too far away or particularly expensive, in fact when I was writing a birthday wishlist back in 2016 I identified it as the place I wanted to go for a weekend. It only took me 6 years! Then again there are other things on that list like a new kitchen and a clean car that I’m going to wait even longer for.

We booked flights with Ryanair, not so much because of the price but because they are the only carrier flying from our nearest airport to Barcelona. I just paid for one piece of carry on luggage between us, keeping the flights as cheap as possible so if we lost the money on them for some reason it wouldn’t be too bad. I did pay to choose our seats though because we were flying on my birthday and I wanted to be sure we could sit together.

Next I looked at hotels, but as a popular tourist destination the choice was ridiculous. Luckily G was excited enough about the holiday that he was happy to do some research. He found a couple of hotel choices that had good reviews, a few stars, but weren’t crazy money. From them I chose and booked Casa Camper which had a free cancellation option so again didn’t feel like a financial risk, I even went for one of their more expensive suites.  

A week before the holiday I realised I hadn't sorted airport parking and I decided to go all out with the Meet & Greet service (so we didn’t need to even find a parking space) and upgraded to a bundle which included security fast track, passport fast track (on the return) and the airport lounge. 

A view from the aeroplane and the coast of Barcelona
Arriving in Barcelona by air

Our Holiday To Barcelona

The morning of my birthday I was up early to finish packing, open my presents and take the children to school and nursery before zooming to the airport. The Meet & Greet parking and lack of hold luggage meant we got to security super quickly and with perfect timing (and the help of the fast track security) we were heading to the Airport lounge before we had even stood still for a moment. In the lounge everything was free so we had a multi course breakfast and coffee. You could have alcohol, but as it was only 10am I passed. It was a comfortable way to wait for our flight before heading to the gate and waiting in the long Ryanair queues. Luckily the flight was efficient and to time despite boarding only minutes before the planned departure time. The airline might be basic, but they do their job. A few hours later and we were in Spain.

I have written a review about the hotel Casa Camper, but it was perfect for us. The staff were lovely, it was laid back and unpretentious, but comfortable with plenty of free food and drink. The location in the Raval area, not far off La Rambla was great and close enough to walk to everything. It was a brilliant choice.

The first night we ate at the Michelin star restaurant next to the hotel called Dos Palillos where the head chef, Albert Raurich, was previously sous chef at elBulli for 11 years (elBulli was considered the best restaurant in the world before it closed). We had the tasting menu in this restaurant which is Asian fusion inspired tapas. Think lots of fish and sushi type dishes and you'll be close. Some were amazing, the dried oysters were a bit gross (I’m not an oyster fan), but overall it was extraordinary.

Head Chef at Dos Palillos Michelin restaurant in Barcelona
Albert Raurich, chef at Los Palillos where we had my birthday dinner

Over the next 2 days we spent a lot of time walking, exploring and eating. It was amazing (yes I am well aware I have said that a few times in this post). On the last morning as it was time to head to the airport I didn’t want to go home. 3 nights just wasn’t long enough.

Ok there were a few things that weren’t so good. Even in May some places were really busy, I don’t speak Spanish so I felt a little isolated at times and due to my dairy intolerance and inability to drink alcohol without hangovers I didn’t get to embrace the food and drink as I would have liked. But the time to breathe, the time to explore and be with my partner… I can’t think of a better way to have spent my 40th birthday.

Me and my partner on my 40th birthday
Us in Barcelona on my 40th Birthday

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