Boozing in Barcelona: Not Your Average Family Vacation

Lindsey Quinnies hits the streets of the Catalan capital with her mom and sisters

My sisters and I like to have a good time. We’ve all indulged in our fair share of debauchery — both separately and together — so it’s no surprise that letting us loose in Barcelona would result in a story to be told.

barc5The evening began with an Estrella beer (literally the only beer you can get in that city) bigger than my head and a tiny man covered in LED lights calling me a bitch for not buying a copy of a photo that he’d aggressively insisted I participate in. Perhaps those were my first clues of what lay ahead.

Nonetheless, we continued to the next destination which was a bizarre courtyard packed with tourists and locals getting out of their minds in their chosen ways while my sisters (Kayla and Lauren), mom, and I drank vodka, shot down propositions, and discussed attending early-morning beach parties.

Anyway, after we misunderstood the bartender’s request to “say when,” as he poured our drinks and the vodka sodas turned into large vodka shots, we decided to exit that establishment — after finishing our drinks, of course.

We moved onto the bar that we’d noticed everyone was flocking to. It appeared to host people from all over the world and quite a few locals.

We met an American guy and girl who said their relationship was platonic — but it was uncomfortably obvious that this was a one-sided opinion.

We met some unbelievably stereotypical British guys that talked solely about Formula One. I made fun of them a bit too blatantly.

We also encountered a dude who had his English-speaking friend hit on us for him, while he stood by making creepy faces and nodding. I bore the brunt of this third-party approach, probably because I decided to sacrifice my security in exchange for free cigarettes. I exited by using my minuscule knowledge of Spanish and proclaiming: “Tengo un novio!… y novia!” meaning “I have a boyfriend!… and girlfriend!” This seemed to do the trick, or at least throw them off enough for me to slip away.

Besides the string of strange characters we encountered at the bar, there were a few people we met right away that kind of hung around and actually seemed alright. In our drunken stupor, they were dubbed “Backpack” and “Baldie” for obvious reasons.

There was also an Italian guy who claimed to be a hit man, a very drunk man called Gaston (yes, like Beauty & the Beast). There was also a cluster of other people who I’m assuming were their acquaintances hanging around.

Let’s note a couple things at this point: First off, it was 5am and our Wisconsin-based drinking habits had us steadily inebriated. Also, my mom was still with us… being awesome. So that was probably about the point in the evening where things started to teeter less towards “let’s get drunk at a bar” and more towards “what are we doing?”

Reflecting on this, my mother decided it was time for her to leave. At the same time, Kayla, Lauren and I decided to accept a post-bar party invitation from our new-found acquaintances.

Backpack, being one of the seemingly normal people we encountered that night, called our mom a cab and promised to return us safely. Now I’m not really sure of the exact path from bar to alley, but next thing I know we were following a crowd of locals into the abyss of Barcelona brick alleys.


There were quite a few people hanging around selling six packs of red beer cans (Estrella, of course) that we drank as we wandered to our unidentified destination.

By this time, Gaston had taken quite the liking to Lauren, who had a boyfriend, and Kayla and the Italian hit-man seemed to be getting along quite swimmingly. I stuck with Backpack and Baldie because they seemed to have the best grip on what was going on and where we were going.

Eventually we arrived at a large, closed garage door, seemingly no different from all the others, and the guys say: “We’re here”. I’m concerned. What’s going on? I’m drunk but I know that we most likely shouldn’t be in this situation.

A guy, who seems to be bouncing the party, comes out the door.
He has a hot pink mohawk, spider web tattoos on his arms and neck, and has most likely done some meth dabbling in his days. He recognized us as pale-skinned tourists and told our friends that this wasn’t the type of party for tourists. But he eventually agreed to let us in.

It was a quiet, empty, dimly lit home with tile floors and bed sheets hanging over the bedroom doors. A hazy situation for sure, that I was too intoxicated to be properly alarmed about at the time. We were directed down wonky stairs to a basement, where there was a bar with bartenders and a full on rager.

I was shocked and pleased to actually see a legitimate party at that point and not someone coming to abduct me into human trafficking. We got really drunk there. We danced. People hated us, whatever. I probably screamed “tengo un novio/a” in way too many people’s faces, but it really seemed like the most useful tool at the time.

Kayla was hanging out with the Italian across the room and Lauren was fending off wedding invitations from Gaston, who was hopelessly infatuated with her by now.

At a certain point, I had to take a piss. I asked someone where to do that and they spat out something I pretended to understand. I went upstairs in search of the wiz palace but found nothing but the obscure sheet-covered room we had entered earlier and not a toilet in sight.

At that point, it was either piss my pants or pee where I stand. So, I squatted and peed shamefully behind a thin bed sheet onto the tiled floor, hoping no one would bust in. Not my proudest moment.

I emerged from behind the sheet to find Gaston arguing with Mohawk at the front door and saw Lauren standing alone outside looking fretful. Apparently, after she’d gone outside to pee, Mohawk forgot who she was and didn’t want to let her back in.

After some convincing and bonding over a smoke, he reluctantly agreed. Now I’m not sure, but I’d like to think that Gaston’s chivalrous behavior led to my sister’s next brief, meaningless infidelity (via make-out).

barc6I then dawned on me that if we’d left the bar at 5am — oh shit, what time could it possibly be? I located Lauren, but peeling Kayla away from her Italian make-out pal for the night wasn’t easy, and it was decided he would at least begin walking with us.

We busted out the heavy door into the alley where we were greeted with bright, broad daylight and attempted to navigate the same alley that we had no recollection of traveling in the first place.

We also needed to find a cab. I’m not sure how it happened, but we found our way to a main street and into a taxi. Lauren and I hung out the cab window and yelled at Kayla to ditch the Italian.

After she rejoined us and we set off, we discovered we had no money. So, like assholes, we proceeded to scream “ATM” and “Parallelo” repeatedly at the cab driver. But it worked, we got some cash before arriving back at our apartment on Avinguda de Parallel.


Before we passed out, I decided to call my boyfriend and make an asshole of myself and Kayla ate a whole sleeve of cookies in bed. The next morning was one of confusion, headaches and shame. Needless to say that day wasn’t taken full advantage of. But I’ll remember that night with my family forever and will perhaps be more cautious on my next European adventure… but where’s the fun in that?