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Adios Spain: 6 days in Barcelona, and planning a holiday

As I begin to write this post, we’re sitting in an illy cafe near Espana station killing time before heading to the airport to catch a flight to Munchen. Even though it’s a Saturday, this cafe is surprisingly empty and we have two large couches to ourselves. The iced coffee is average at best, but the wifi is free and there are couches so we’ve planted for the time being.

At close to a month since our departure from Japan, we’ve been craving Japanese food and some down time. I’d expected this – to get worn out from traveling – but it wasn’t just because I’m unfit. It’s not so much the walking 25,000 steps a day that’s exhausting, but rather the planning. Oh god the planning. The last minute Airbnb bookings, the scrambling to get tickets for Alhambra, the Couchsurfing requests and subsequent rejection upon rejection.

So we’re taking a week off. After drinking our livers to oblivion for the next few days at Oktoberfest (and I don’t even like beer), we’re going to escape somewhere for a week straight and not do anything but work, read, (maybe) blog and cook Japanese food. I refuse to plan anything but doing thorough research into where to eat ice cream and desserts.

Looking back on our time in Spain

After close to 2 weeks in Spain, I’ve begun to realize that a lot of my preconceptions and expectations have been off. And others are on point.

  • Food in Spain is good if you have the money to spend, but cheap eats are terrible
  • Seriously, do not eat at cheap places. Spend that money on a box of Magnums. Or 5 packs of prosciutto. Or both. If the tapas are 1-2EUR you’re going to get what you pay for. You should be expecting to spend at least 30EUR for two if you want anything bordering on decent. You were warned…

DSC04297.JPGWhen eating out, you can never go wrong with prosciutto

  • Bread is the staple carb and my body is not made for this life

img_4787-1Prosciutto = yes, this bread = no

  • Despite this, bread here is not very good (our Portuguese friend warned us of this, and sadly he was right)
  • Barcelona is home to some damned good roasted (fried?) potatoes that, of course, come with a side of bread

DSC04394.JPGBulgogi beef roasted potatoes… worth every cent

  • It is possible to cook edible rice without a rice cooker
  • Prosciutto is just as good as I had imagined. Jamon iberico is a valid reason to visit travel half way across the world to Spain (or Portugal)
  • Despite the lack of normal chilled milk, Spanish know how to do yoghurt. Danone branded Oikos flavored with apple and cinnamon is easily the best yoghurt I’ve ever eaten.


  • Chocolate coated corn cakes are fucking amazing. Why have I not eaten these before?! (note: they have them in Germany and Czech Republic too!! Aus, what’s going on?)
  • Locals are friendly, however English is surprisingly limited once you get out of the tourist traps (yes, I do care about things other than food)
  • Every damn place you want to visit requires at least 10EUR to enter (Gaudí’s family better be getting royalties)
  • Seriously, why call a place a park and show it on the map as looking like a park with walking tracks when it requires an entry fee? /rant

DSC04406.JPGWhy enter when you can just take a photo from outside? (We weren’t the only ones!)

  • Compared to the rest of Spain/Portugal we’ve visited, Barcelona’s weather is fantastic
  • Aussie coffee has ruined me and Spanish coffee sucks

img_4585Unfortunately e didn’t get a chance to test this theory… but I’m skeptical 

Barcelona first impressions

We arrived from Madrid by bus, and were welcomed by beautiful mixes of old and modern architecture and wide, clean streets which we’d been missing in Seville and Madrid. (Disclaimer: as I was battling a cold during our short stay in Madrid we didn’t get to explore the city at all – I encouraged Fumi to but I think he was happy to have an excuse to finally veg out for a couple of days)

The Barcelona subway transport system was reasonably easy to use and it was no trouble getting to our accommodation which was considered “far” (15mins+) from the centre but no problem for us at all.

DSC04307.JPGIn remembrance of the August 17th attack on La Rambla

Misadventures in Barcelona

There wren’t any major misadventures while we were in Barcelona (compared to the “fun” we had in London) but there were a few unexpected surprises…

  • Smaller, local grocery stores have a very limited selection and the fresh fruit/vegetable there are not very appetizing. If you want to stock up on groceries, you may need to hunt for a larger supermarket if you’re outside of the centre of town.
  • The 2 day and 3 day train/bus passes that include travel to the airport can only be used on specific airport buses. We only discovered this after we’d waited for a bus from Espana station and were boarding the bus. Other non-locals behind us were caught up the same way so this seems like a common issue.

img_4947Patiently waiting for the airport bus

img_4503Countless ticket options and language options are available

  • Seeing anything by Gaudí includes booking tickets in advance and it can really add up. I didn’t expect that the park also had costs to enter; it’s always worth doing your research in advance.
  • If you’re staying out of the centre of town, options for eating out are very limited unless you are happy with sandwiches and fried everything. It was disappointing that there was nowhere to eat veggies or more simple food – even when ordering cooked chicken breast at a local “cafe bar” it was absolutely soaked in canola oil.

img_4514My version of gastronomic torture. At least the egg yolk was good…

Some things we remember about Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia is a Temple designed by Antoni Gaudí, which has been under construction for 135 years and is set to be completed in the first half of this century. The architecture. From the outside the building is impressive, but it’s really the inside where I felt Gaudí’s skill showed. We were fortunate enough to go just before the sun began to set, so could see the lighting inside change dramatically over the space of half an hour. Note: no camera stands are allowed to be used inside.


The Picasso Museum was an interesting show of his works as a student, moving from realistic to more abstract works. We both appreciate beautiful artwork, but neither of us are really big on visiting art galleries and could have survived not going, so the free entry on Thursday afternoon was what really helped get us through the door. Note: no photography is allowed inside the gallery.

DSC04392.JPGThe beautiful exterior of the museum was an added bonus

The Gothic Quarter, as the name suggests, is an area with gothic style buildings and architecture. After so my hype over Barcelona, we had felt somewhat disappointed with the city’s ‘look’ (other than Gaudíand a few other impressive buildings), but after stumbling into this area out minds were changed. It is a beautiful part of the city – and as one might expect quite touristy – and has many restaurants, bars and cafes to checkout. It’s also home to the Picasso Museum.

Our Couchsurfing experience was unforgettable. A local Catlan, Oscar, kindly offered his pullout couch to us for a night in Montgat, a small town just outside of Barcelona which is surrounded by the ocean and mountains. Oscar is a firefighter and father, and as a local he was reasonably involved in the region’s current fight for independence. (We left Barcelona the day before the independence referendum.)

Oscar’s hobbies included playing the guitar, singing, learning English, cooking and recently picking up the clarinet (or maybe it was the sax)

We cooked a Japanese style lunch, and in return Oscar cooked what can only be described death by cheese:

img_4731Apparently this is a favorite of the firefighters where Oscar works

Our first proper drone flight finally happened when we were nearby Gaudí’s Park Güell. Photos from the drone are to come…

dsc04395.jpgWe have liftoff!

DSC04400.JPGNot a view from the drone, but a beautiful view nonetheless

In conclusion

Barcelona is a beautiful city and has a lot to offer – good food, beautiful sights and great hospitality.

However, I would not recommend it for someone on a backpackers budget – even on a reasonable budget like ours which is more than enough to scrape by. Unless you’re willing to fork out for each meal (or perhaps do a tonne of research) you are going to be disappointed by what you order. Time and again it was dry bread, way too much cheap oil and no vegetables.


Tosca, located close to the centre of town was one of the good tapas places we went – but is not friendly for a backpacker on a budget

Now that we’ve traveled through Czech Republic as well, we’ve learnt quickly that if you want to have a good time, you need to go where you can get better value for money.

Sadly, Barcelona isn’t the city for that.

It’s a no brainer really, but now we’ve experienced it we’re in the process of updating our travel plans. We’re learning that Eastern Europe really does have a lot to offer both in beautiful sights and with amazing, affordable food (oh Prague, you spoilt us).

Til next time














  • スペイン料理は美味しいが、しかしある程度の額を出さないといけない。ローカルチープフードはまずい。↓注意
  • ホント、安い 5ユーロほどのサンドウィッチは避けて欲しい。それなら、スーパーで1ユーロのプロシュット(スペインハム)5パック買った方が良い。もしくは、そこそこのレストランで1〜2ユーロのタパスを数個食べる方が賢い。二人で最低30ユーロは払わないと「理想的なスペイン料理」は食せない。
  • 特にパンがマズイ。(ポルトガルの友人に聞いていたが、残念ながら、彼の言う通りであった。)
  • サイドメニューにはローストポテトを添えよう。
  • 鍋で作る米も悪くない。
  • ハモン・イベリコ(プロシュット)は予想通り、最高にうまかった。そのためにスペインに訪れる価値はある。
  • フレッシュミルクはイマイチだったがヨーグルトは今ままで食べたなかで一番美味しかった。Danone branded Oikos flavored with apple and cinnamon は超オススメ。
  • スーパーで買えるチョコレートコーティングのライスケーキはお買い得。
  • ローカルスペイン人はフレンドリーだ。一歩観光エリアを外れると英語が通じなくなるが、ゼロスペイン語でもなんとかなった。
  • 観光する際の入場料が高い。(サグラダファミリアは払う価値あるが。)
  • 公園と地図で表示されている場所なのに、行くと入場料をとられる。なぜだ!
  • ポルトガルとスペインを比較すると、天気はスペインの方がよかった。(暖かかった)
  • オーストラリアのコーヒーに慣れている私たちにとってスペインのコーヒーには満足できなかった。










  • トラブルというか、困ったことだが、市内から15分ほどのエリアに泊まったのだが、スパーの品揃えが悪く、新鮮な野菜やフルーツ、お肉を買えなかったので初日は自炊が出来ず。。店も多くがしまっていた。
  • 空港行きバスも乗れる電車・バス2デイズパスを購入したが、我々が乗車したエスパーニャステーションからのエアポートバスでは使えずに、渋々12ユーロずつ支払った。
  • 観光施設は基本すべて事前にWEBチケットを購入すべし。サグラダファミリア、ピカソ博物館という有名どころは事前にWEBチケットを購入し入場したので問題なかったが、他の観光スポットも事前にチケットを購入しないと入れかったり、並ぶ必要があった。
  • 市内から離れる場合は、外食もひどい。


  • サグラダファミリア
  •  ピカソ博物館
  • ゴシック地区,


  • バルセロナの一番の思い出といっても過言ではない、カウチサーファー:オスカーとの出会い。

  • バルセロナを一望できる公園でドローン飛ばして撮影してみたり。
    We have liftoff!

    Not a view from the drone, but a beautiful view nonetheless




しかし、 スペインはポルトガルに比べると物価も高く、我々バックパッカーからすれば、少しタフな街であった。また、バルセロナに対して私もJessもかなりの期待をしていた、さらには完璧な街だと思い込んでいたので、そうでない部分を見たときに衝撃も多かった。




First stop:ロンドン



クリスマスにも一度英国に帰ってくる予定なので、今回は数人とのmeet up とドローンピックアップが任務だ。



ロンドンのシンボル:ビッグベンから始まり、バッキンガム宮殿、ロンドン塔、カンタベリー大聖堂 etc と数え切れないほどの美しいな建築物が並ぶ街だった。

DSC03297.JPGThe view from Trafalgar Square is simply breathtaking.

強烈に印象に残ったBritish Pub

17時ごろから仕事を終えた人たちが、花に飾られたエントランスのBritish Pubで一杯やり賑わっていた。

DSC03255One of many beautiful pubs, this one is nearby Tottenham Court Rd, an area where Jess’s mother often visited as a child



DSC03222On the Thames River


1. 到着してすぐ、キャッシュおろせない!


解決策:地下鉄(ブリティッシュイングリッシュ:Underground)ではクレジットカードが使えるので、まずはoyster card(日本のsuica的な)を購入。Airbnbの宿泊先に向かった。その後、宿泊先近くのATMで再度キャッシングに挑戦。




2. ドローンが届かない






3. 外食するとすぐ予算オーバー!




4. ロンドン名物の赤い公衆電話がエロの広告塔、公衆トイレ化






東京に比べると地下鉄の本数は少ないが、ロンドンのもう一つのシンボル2階建バスが大活躍した。12時を超えても夜行バスが走っており、British Pubで市内で飲んで二階建てバスで宿泊先まで戻っていた。

img_2919※ビジター・オイスター・カード (London Visitor Oyster Card)、所謂Suicaのようなカードを購入すれば、チケットが半額になったりとお得である。





DSC03215Sweet potato heaven at Wahaca, Waterloo


img_2749-1Fish and Chips at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen. Many thanks to business-partners-now-friends for covering us

3. 物価は思ったより高くなく、pre-cooked meals はリーズナブル

滞在期間中、外食をバジェットの関係上減らすべくスーパーで購入したpre-cooked mealsを大活用。安くて美味しかった。


4.ロンドン最古のBritish Pub は最高だった



DSC03315The delectable goats cheese dish we had at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese





DSC03274Quote: “Now I know how it feels when you’re in Japan!” 









Next stop はポルトガルのポルト。


First stop, London

Starting off in London

The first stop on our 200 day trip was the beautiful city of London. As my mother was born in England I’ve been fascinated with the country all my life and couldn’t wait to finally visit.

As we’ll be heading back to the UK for Christmas and New Years this was a short 4 day stop to catch up with friends and also pick up our drone which I’d managed to get my hands on online.

First impressions

London is a beautiful city, with many buildings towards the outskirts reminding me of the inner-west in Sydney. Once in the heart of the city, you are surrounded by beautiful heritage buildings that really leave a lasting impression. For me personally it was almost surreal to be surrounded by so many beautiful, old sandstone(?) buildings of which we only have a handful of in Sydney.

Below are a few shots that I hope catch that atmosphere.

DSC03241.JPGTaken near Fleet Street

DSC03255.JPGOne of many beautiful pubs, this one is nearby Tottenham Court Rd, an area where my mother often visited as a child

DSC03287.JPGOpposite Trafalgar Square

DSC03222.JPGOn the Thames River

As you may have also noticed, traveling through London is also like traveling in a mix of suburbs/places between Monopoly and Sydney. So many familiar names kept popping up that it made the city feel a bit more homely in a strange way.

Whilst the city itself is beautiful (or at least the centre of the city), not all things were peachy.

Misadventures in London

1. Couldn’t get cash out at the airport

despite several visits to the bank to prepare my cash card in advance, my Japanese and Aussie cards returned errors at the airport ATMs.

Solution: since most places accept credit including ticket machines, we bought our charged Oyster cards and hopped on the subway. Turns out the ATMs at the airport just weren’t on our side, and we had no issues pulling out cash on the go.

2. Delivery guy had one f***ing job

and he just couldn’t do it. Delivers outside the designated time (9-5pm), doesn’t leave a note, and then registers the package as delivered.

Solution: go directly to the depo to pick it up and wave goodbye to the additional express delivery fees we paid. I have never loved Japanese delivery services more than I do now.


3. One dinner out put us almost over budget for 4 days

and we learnt a lesson in budget traveling. London is a beautiful city and the pubs are to die for, but it is not a city for long-term backpackers to stay more than a few days. Inexpensive places still feel steep.

DSC03219Our first night in London, where jet-lag got the better of us at 8pm

4. Red telephone boxes were a huge disappointment

oh how I’d dreamt of beautiful red telephone boxes lining the streets. They certainly were around the place, but rather than being used as prescribed they smelt like piss and… well let’s just say you should not even think of going inside one.

There was a particularly interesting one we came across in Soho.


Some things we remember about London

Of course we enjoyed our stay in London, and look forward to going back there again (with a more realistic budget in mind).

1. Public transport is pretty good

If we’re comparing with Japan then yeah, the tube isn’t great, but coming from Sydney, the public transport system in the UK isn’t looking shabby. The beautiful double-decker red buses are frequent and easy to use with some running through the night (and if you’re using an Oyster card there’s a max cost per day as well so it won’t break the bank).



2. The food was good

We had the chance to eat out a few times – Mexican, British, and some pub nibblies. The fish and chips were really good and the Mexican food nice and spicy. Not sure if I could live on this food forever, but it was good nonetheless.

DSC03215Sweet potato heaven at Wahaca, Waterloo

img_2749-1Fish and Chips at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen. Many thanks to business-partners-now-friends for covering us

3. Groceries and pre-prepared food is affordable

After realizing we were going to go way over budget, we turned to the local supermarkets. We found that all the supermarkets provided somewhat affordable and also healthy options for pre-made food. Eating breakfast and dinner in is probably your best bet for surviving in London without spending too much.


4. Pubs are amazing

I’ve been to a fair few Aussie pubs in my time and they aren’t places you’d rave about or want to take photos of. But British pubs? They are in a whole other league, with beautiful wooden interiors, a dark yet warm atmosphere and delectable food on offer.

Our favorite thing we ate would have to have been the fried goats cheese we had at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. This is one of the oldest pubs in London and has a fascinating history.


DSC03315The delectable goats cheese dish we had at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

5. Weather was as expected

Not sure if this is so much a positive, but the weather was just as one would have expected – cloudy with a bit of drizzle. We were lucky that there wasn’t any heavy rain while we were in town and could get away without really using our umbrellas.


Something unexpected

One thing that really stood out to us, after having both been to Australia and the US (Fumi also having been to Canada), was that there are not nearly as many Asians in London than there are in other major Western cities. Growing up in Sydney and having traveled to San Francisco and LA for work, it seemed normal for there to be a significant population of ABCs, but the difference really stood out to us.

DSC03274.JPGQuote: “Now I know how it feels when you’re in Japan!” 

In conclusion

We really enjoyed our stay in London, and are looking forward to heading back again at the end of the year and maybe meeting with some long-lost family. If I were to plan our trip there again and if it was our only chance to check out the city, we would have also

Next stop was Porto, Portugal, where we flew to directly from Gatwick. Post to come…




Welcome to our blog (Japanese)




そして生まれた、honest backpackers。

二人の旅の記録、発見 & How to などをお届けする。


Taken at Jardim do Morro, a park on the Gaia side of Douro River in Porto, Portugal



留学中のJess と仕事で北京に訪れていたFumiがコンビニで出逢う。










  1. 婚前プレハネムーンを思いっきり楽しむ
  2. 旅をしながら、結婚式の準備をきっちりする
  3. modernバックパッカーズとして、airbnbや couch surfingを活用し、自由に快適でコスパの良い旅をする
  4. 旅をしながら、リモートで今までの仕事を続け、旅×二人のワークバランスを確立する
  5. 今後の二人に合うライフスタイルを発見する


Fumi in awe of the buildings nearby Porto Cathedral, Porto, Portugal






We hope you enjoy 🙂

Welcome to our blog

[Mostly translated from Japanese to English] [日本語はこちら]

To start off

So we have tried to write this post more than 10 times over the past 2 weeks.
From trial and error we’ve decided to write honestly about our experiences while traveling.

So came to be “Honest Backpackers”

The writers of this blog are 20-something Japanese Fumi who manages the Japanese posts, and Aussie Jess (me) who will be writing English posts.

We’ll be writing recounts of our travels, discoveries and realisations, as well as How Tos. As the blog grows what we’ll write about is bound to change, but will stay in our overall theme of being as honest as possible (because tbh we’ve had enough of wanderlust photos and travel blogs already, haven’t we??)



Fumi in awe of the buildings nearby Porto Cathedral, Porto, Portugal

How we met

We met in Beijing, China.

I was on exchange at university and Fumi was there for work. Of all places we met at a convenience store.

After living together in Tokyo for over 2 years Fumi proposed in June 2016 and we got engaged.

In 200 days we’re getting married!

After graduating university, starting work full-time, with life going seemingly well, we both felt that something was missing…

So we decided that we’d do a world-wide trip before tying the knot.

For now we’re traveling, doing a 200 day pre-honeymoon.

Why we began traveling

We both absolutely love to travel. It’s that simple.

Since meeting we’ve traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Osaka and some other smaller prefectures in Japan.

After settling in Japan for work, we never had the chance to travel abroad except for business trips, or when I went home to Aus to visit family…

We were getting itchy feet, and our lives had been filled with work.

We had been waiting for the right timing™️ to do our long dreamt of “world trip”, when we realised that…

There is no such thing as the right timing™️, we have to make it for ourselves!

… so we decided to quit our jobs and quit waiting for this elusive, non-existent time to appear.

After negotiating with our employers, we were both given the opportunity to continue working remotely part-time while traveling.

DSC04078.JPG Walking through the backstreets of Ronda, Spain

Our travel goals

  1. To enjoy our pre-honeymoon to the fullest
  2. To get ready for our weddings while traveling (yes there is an ‘s’ there, yes we are crazy)
  3. As ‘modern’ backpackers, make use of airbnb, couch surfing etc, and have a comfortable x cheap x flexible trip
  4. Work remotely wile traveling, and learn the balance between work and travel
  5. Discover the type of lifestyle that will suit us longer term

To sum it up

At first we’d planned to write this blog about our ‘discoveries’ while traveling from a Japanese and Australian perspective, but in reality there weren’t really that many memorable ‘discoveries’ that we felt were blog-worthy. So we scrapped that idea.

We thought too much about how we should present the blog and present ourselves, so we decided to go back to the basics and write more truthfully and honestly about our traveling experiences.

There’ll be times that we argue (already have been), there will be times when things don’t go as planned (it’s been 2 weeks but I could write a book I swear), there will be things that are a pain that we really don’t want to have to waste our time on.

We decided not to go to Starbucks because, well, Starbucks, but alas the Pumpkin Spiced Frappachino was too tempting, so under the guise that we ‘need to use their internet’ we went there anyway. For those back home in Aus who are missing out… oh boy it was good.

That’s the kind of honest stuff we’ll write about – hopefully not all as trivial as an overpriced sugar laden drink.

Honesty is key.

Even if it’s just one more person, we’ve decided to write our blog in Japanese and English in the hopes that we can share with others our experience, and that it can share their future traveling experience positively!

We hope you enjoy 🙂