Monday, November 9, 2009

Travel Notes: Barcelona

We left Barcelona today, so I most likely won't have too much time to update from now on as I won't have Internet access on my phone until I'm in Taiwan on Nov. 21. I'll be checking email though.

Barcelona is such a wonderful city. I wish we could have stayed longer!

It's got a great energy to it, and the architecture is so different. Gaudi, who is responsible for the aesthetic of most of the city, was such a weirdo. Who approved all these crazy designs?

Day 1

1. Met Dan at the hostel pretty late. The hostel Sants One has a fun vibe with lots of youngsters, but that staff seems a bit dense. Location isn't great. Wouldn't recommend it.

2. Grabbed beers at bar down the street and caught up on each other's traveling adventures. The first time we met we decided to meet up in China in about a year, and then added Barcelona and Morocco later on a whim. Feels strange having actually followed through and made it here.

Day 2

1. Cafe con leche for breakfast. If not noted, just assume I'm eating bread and something out of a jar from the farm for every other meal.

2. Pleasant walk through Arch de Triomph, along water, through some narrow alleys to find a tapas bar for lunch. This city has such a cool, friendly spirit.

3. Wind up in La Merce, which according to a guidebook I read that day I spent 8 hours in a Barnes & Noble at home, is a blue collar neighborhood with cheap, traditional tapas. Ended up at the bar of this tiny place. Tortilla Espanola and sardines (big, yummy fleshy ones) soaked in garlic, parsley and vinegar.

4. Walk a bit. Find another cheap tapas place that looks good. Spontaneous second lunch. Chorizo with peppers on sticks over crostini. Jamon with jalapenos over more crostini. Glass of sidra poured out of a giant barrel. Tastes like mix of apple juice, beer and champagne.

5. Some rambling down La Rambla (a long pedestrian walkway full of little vendors, cafes and performers dressed up in interesting costumes for photo opps) and La Boqueria (what must be the most amazing market in the world).
We purchase plenty of snacks: madronos (little red berries that taste like gritty apricots), figs, three different kinds of mushrooms, Pernil Bodega jamon, roncal queso (sheep's milk cheese), a block of membrillo (quince paste) and a bottle of coffee flavored olive oil.

6. Viena Cafe for the best sandwich ever, according to Mark Bittman of the NY Times. Jamon Iberico with cheese and a bit of tomato paste on a light, crusty loaf. Perfectly proportioned, but not my best ever. We preferred Oprah's fave from Govind Armstrong's place in Miami.

7. Then we make stops by the Christopher Columbus monument and Gaudi's
La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Lots of weird imagery of Native Americans kneeling down and gratefully kissing the hands of Spaniards. Then just a beautiful mess of cement and dramatic spires at the cathedral, which was such a massive undertaking by Gaudi and the city that it's still under construction...I feel like that's partially a tourist gimmick though.

8. We make dinner back at the hostel kitchen, which consists of pasta tossed in the coffee olive oil and a little bit of the jamon and sheep cheese with the sauteed mushrooms and, of course, a bottle of cheap tempranillo.

Day 3

1. Breakfast on the roof of the hostel.

2. Spend most of the morning at the Museu Picasso. One of my favorite art stops on the trip yet as I'm a big Picasso fan. Focus was mainly on his early years and time spent living in Barcelona.

Loved his Las Meninas series, which are over 50 interpretations of Velasquez's famous painting at the Prado in Madrid. Thought-provoking. Fun. There was also a special exhibit about "Secret Images," which explored the erotic Japanese screen prints that inspired Picasso and many of his peers during this time. Included some of Picasso's personal collection. Lots of octopus finding romance with women.

3. Grab jamon/queso and chorizo sandwiches from a stand near La Boqueria. Only place we could find to sit was inside a playground, so we risk looking creepy and eat there among the frolicking Spanish children.

4. Hot chocolate and coffee at Cafe L'Opera. Coffee nice and strong. Hot chocolate was literally a melted bar of chocolate in a little tea cup. We drank it with a spoon.

5. Stroll up MontJuic (Mt. Jew). Sneak into a park to watch the sunset. Something rowdy and fun sounding happening at the Olympic stadium below. Get yelled at (more like a loud talking to actually) by some security guards and forced to make our way back down the Jew mountain.

6. Buy salted, fried cod balls and brazil nuts on the way home. Neither taste that great.

7. Over four-hour dinner at Cinc Sentits. 11 courses. I'll have to do a whole separate post for this one.

8. Post-dinner digestive walk through what is similar to Barcelona's 5th ave shopping district. See Gaudi's Pedrera and Baclio buildings. More curvy, undulating, cement dripping craziness.

Day 3

1. Lots of being late. Running places. Barely making our flight out to Marrakech. But then we somehow end up being early for boarding. Good thing we didn't waste too much effort stressing over it.

2. Adios, Espana...but most likely "hasta luego."

1 comment:

  1. Yay Mount Jew!! Will you be posting pictures eventually? I forgot. I think you said you can't do from your phone, right? I'm hungry from reading your blog.