Return to Barcelona (part 1)

I really, really like Barcelona. It’s interesting to walk around, the food is amazing, the architecture is unique, and the whole feel of the city resonates with me. And yet we can’t seem to get ourselves there for longer than about forty hours at a time (twice now: 2008 and 2016). But better to have been there fleetingly than not go at all…

Virginia found a set of loopholes through which we could thread ourselves into inexpensive plane tickets for a long weekend. Even in January, the weather promised to be more pleasant than what we expected at home (and we were right). I finished up work on Friday afternoon and we left for the airport, one travel bag each.

(Side note: I decided I wanted a small backpack for walking around cities so I didn’t have to lug my larger day pack around. I ended up with the ChicoBag rePETe Travel Pack, which weighs under half a pound and folds into itself for easy packing. It was great for toting my Kindle, fleece jacket, and a few odds and ends.)


Trees at the Parc della Ciutadella.

The flight itself was fine, mostly because we could get some sleep. We arrived in Barcelona around 1:00pm and headed right to the hotel. After freshening up, we wandered out for lunch. It was a sunny day, so why not tour the waterfront for a while? We walked through a nearby park and then made our way to the seaside. Lunch at Agua Restaurante was tasty, and even sitting inside we had a nice view of the water. After lunch we meandered back to the hotel for a quick nap before our dinner engagement. We decided to walk there through El Born and the Gothic Quarter, stopping for cortados at Caffe el Magnifico on the way. (€1.50 each – so wonderfully cheap!)

(Side note: walking through El Born meant we stumbled upon the El Born Cultural Centre. Formerly a large marketplace, it became a museum when it was dug out to find ruins from the early eighteenth century. We walked through there twice, stopping both times to marvel at the city as it had been.)

The dig after dark.

Virginia had signed us up for a food and walking tour through Foodlover Tours, which was supposed to be a small group tour. Instead, it was just the two of us and our guide, Edouard. So we basically treated this like a small group of friends out for the evening. We met at Casa Milà in l’Eixample and walked to our first destination, La Bodegueta de Provença. We were greeted casually and walked back to our table for our “seafood course” — five tapas with codfish, anchovies, and octopus, paired with a Penedes white wine.

After lingering for a bit, we headed out for our second set of tapas at Taverna Mediterranea. This was the “meat course” — five more tapas, highlighted by stewed tripe with tomatoes and the night’s winner, a stew of chickpeas, bacon, and blood sausage. Edouard let the owner know how much we raved over it, and he walked over to our table to tell us how to make it at home. Thankfully, Virginia had the presence of mind to write down the ingredients and we’ll try our hand at making it this coming week. I was too happy with the food and vermouth with orange and olives.

Barcelona at night. Not especially well lit.

Now it was time for dinner. I know, I know, this seems a little crazy. But this is common for an evening — friends meet at a tapas place, maybe have a second round, and then go to a late dinner. It was around 9:30-10:00pm when we arrived at La Taverna del Clinic for a six-course meal, accompanied by their house wine, a fantastic 2005 IMO Priorat. Standout dishes included jamón ibérico, patatas bravas with a twist, and pasta rolled around duck confit. Through it all, the three of us learned about each other’s histories and talked about Barcelona, France, Korea, and many other wide-ranging topics. We also had quite a lot of wine. Finally, we said goodnight around midnight and headed back to our hotel.


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