We had wanted to visit Barcelona for years, so when we found an incredibly
low fare from Roma on Vueling Airlines, we grabbed it. The flight operated between
the two main airports, FCO Roma and BCN Barcelona, an
unexpected bonus considering that it's a discount carrier.
The Vueling staff at check-in and
onboard was welcoming and cheerful. The Airbus 320-200
was clean and comfortable with ample leg room and seat
width. It was nice to see the staff offering assistance
to passengers placing their luggage in the overhead
compartments and looking after their overall comfort.
Snacks, sandwiches and beverages are sold onboard. Hard
candies are offered free before landing.
We departed on time and arrived ten
minutes early after a one and a half hour flight. With
just carry-ons, we were quickly on our way to the waiting
Aerobus at the arrivals entrance and for 3.60 euro p.p.,
we were in the city center at Plaša Catalunya 30 minutes
later. As in Roma, the weather was crisp and sunny, 10-13C,
throughout our stay.
It was a short walk to the Avenida Palace
hotel, one block north of Plaša Catalunya, at Gran Via
Corts Catalanes 605-607, between Rambla de Catalunya and
Passeig de Gracia, a perfect location at excellent low
season rates this time of year.
We were impressed with the elegance
of the lobby and bi-level lounge area. The greeting was
cool and abrupt as was all interaction. The hotel prides
itself on offering "classical Catalonian hospitality
in a privately managed hotel" which implies a front
desk and management staff that generates a feeling of
warmth, caring and commitment to the clients' comfort. We
squeezed out a few smiles here and there but it was a
There's a business center but
unfortunately there is a charge (unusually high) for
internet use so we didn't give them our business.
While our twin-bedded room was very
large with nice furniture and good closet space, the
furnishings were tired and the lighting very poor,
resulting in a dreary environment. Although our room
faced a major boulevard, the double windows provided
peace and quiet. The large bathroom had the convenience
of twin sinks with a separate toilet and bidet room.
The housekeeping staff was very
pleasant and accommodating but somewhat inconsistent in
their efforts. When we arrived the carpeting was dirty
and throughout our stay amenities were not replaced in
the bathroom. Bathrobes showed up after 4 days of our 6
day stay and the bedspread was not put on the last day,
etc. Other than the dirty carpet, these are not serious
issues but are reflective of an indifferent management
Barcelona started life at the sea
and as the city expanded it developed a dynamic and
thriving urban life while maintaining the culture of the
old city center and enhancing the natural assets of its
waterfront. The 1992 Olympic Games served as a catalyst
for infrastructure projects and large urban space
development from 1987 to l992 and continued thereafter.
Standing at the waterfront in
Plaša de la Pau at the tall Columbus Lookout you are at
the foot of La Rambla, the famous wide boulevard that
runs north through the old city center to Plaša
Catalunya. To the west overlooking the harbor is Montjuic,
a gorgeous green mountain where development began with
the l929 World's Fair and continued for the 1992 Olympic
Games. The Museu Nacional d'Art Catalunya, fairgrounds,
the Olympic Ring, Jardi Botanic, and Ciutat del Teatre
are some of the essential venues on this lovely hill.
La Rambla divides the 3 districts
of the old city - to the west is The Raval and to the
east The Gothic Quarter and The Ribera. The Old Port and
Barceloneta fan out along the coast toward the Olympic
Village and the wonderful parks and beaches to the east.
The Plaša Catalunya was created at
the northern part of the old city center and serves as
the divide to the new urban areas. It is a huge circular
space with a park at its center, surrounded by commercial
and public buildings. For a city famous for its
architecture (justifiably so) this Plaša of transition
is a disappointment, but it's only a few steps to
The Eixample or "enlargement"
reflects the urban enrichment in the central area of the
city formed by a grid with diamond shaped intersections (the
buildings on all four corners of the intersections have
been designed with diagonal frontage), which creates a
wide open visual panorama as well as a practical and
efficient pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow.
North of Plaša Catalunya two
parallel boulevards, Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de
Gracia, with fabulous wide center pedestrian walkways,
extend to Av.Diagonal and form the core of the Eixample.
Within this core is the epicenter of "Modernista"
Barcelona which architectural style took root at the end
of the 19th century into the first two decades of the 20th,
highlighted by the brilliant works of Antoni GaudÝ, the
name most associated with the city.
This is where we began our 6 days
of walking the diverse streets of Barcelona. As many
before us, we were totally captivated by the beauty of
the architecture. We stopped dead in our tracks at #35
Passeig de Gracia, the beginning of "Mansana de la
Discordia", a single residential block that unites
three marvelous examples of the best of modernista
architecture. Most remarkable is that all three are
refurbished buildings, all the more challenging for the
architects. Casa Albert Lleo Morera by Lluis Domenech i
Montaner showcases the period of the architects floral
style. The interior is a brilliant ensemble of modernista
mosaics, sculpture, ceramics and stained glass.
Adjacent at #41 is Josep Puig i
Cadafalch's, Casa Amatller. We were initially fascinated
by the colorful triangular shaped step up roof line, then
the beauty of the rest of the fašade commanded our
attention. The combination of polychrome ceramic, wrought
iron, sculpture in stone and marble and sgraffito work is
a feast of decorative art. Looking into the entrance hall
we could see striking bronze lamps and a graceful
stairway leading to the first floor.
Next in line at #43 is Casa Batllo,
one of many GaudÝ creations. It is easy to be
overwhelmed by his work. It is like no other most of us
have ever seen. The symphony of designs, shapes,
materials and colors creates a lifelike being that in
fact is a building filled with surprises at every turn.
So it is with Casa Batllo. The intrigue begins with the
shape and colorful materials of the roof. GaudÝ's
symbols dominate the entire building. The popular
interpretation is that the fašade represents the dragon
(his most dominant symbol) which has been impaled on St.
George's sword. The tiles are the dragon's scales and the
balconies and shapes (which look like body parts) on the
lower fašade are the bones of its victims. The exquisite
entrance begins a journey through some of the interior
where the unusual shapes and curves were designed to be
architecturally stimulating yet allowed practical living
space. We climbed to the rooftop where we were fascinated
by the mysterious chimneys and the famous 3-dimensional
cross which crowns the building. The chimneys are
organic sculptures abstractly covered by pieces of
colored glass. Graceful shape, invigorating color and
texture make these chimneys truly a reflection of the
genius of GaudÝ.
This masterful modernism is again
found at #92 Passeig de Gracia, Casa Pere Mila i Camps or
better known a "La Pedrera" (the stone quarry),
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This was GaudÝ's
last residential block built in Eixample. A dominating,
architectural force demanding attention, it is an
authentic abstract sculpture with curves dominating the
stone of the fašade, the balconies and balcony railings,
the lobby and the courtyard.
The ultimate GaudÝ project is the Temple de la Sagrada Familia. This was his true labor of love. The
construction began in 1882 and one year later GaudÝ was
appointed Project Manager. He worked on it for 40 years
until his death in 1926. The overall plan and use of
innovative geometrical shapes of naturalist style (GaudÝ's
hallmarks) are the basis on which architects continue the
work he started so long ago.
As we found our way toward the
unfinished church, the sight of the 8 finished bell
towers dedicated to the Apostles (4 more to be built),
each exceeding 100 meters, came into view. By now we were
comfortable with the GaudÝ look, but this was unreal,
like coming upon a fairyland. Also emerging were huge
cranes for the construction of the 4 belfries, the
Fašade of Glory (170 meters) central dome in honor of
Jesus Christ, the Tower of the Virgin Mary (125 meters)
and the Tower of the 4 Evangelists.
There are 3 main fašades, Nativity
to the east, Death on the west and Glory to the south.
The Nativity fašade is decorated with organic forms.
The vaults of the main naive are
finished and work is now focused on the transepts and
apse. It is incredible to see the complicated structural
system of inclined columns and parabolic arches of the
naves. The apse is adorned with unusual and original
plant and animal motifs.
Before walking through the
unfinished interior, we visited the museum depicting the
past, present and future of the Temple. There is an
abundance of well-organized scale models, photographs,
plans and decorative objects on display.
This amazing project, ongoing since
1882 with no defined completion date, is not to be missed.
On Arago 255 is the iron and brick
building by Domenech i Montanar which currently houses
the Fundacio Antoni Tapies. The decorative brickwork,
ground floor railings with whiplash motif and unpainted
terracotta cornice are distinctive. Most intriguing are
the dazzling sculptures crowning the roof.
The Paulu Baro de Quadras by Josep
Puig i Cadafalch at Av. Diagonal 373 has double frontage.
The main fašade on Av. Diagonal, in the style of a
Gothic period mansion, looks like a single family town
house while the fašade overlooking Carrer Rossello has
the features of a residential apartment building. The
building is now the "House of Asia". The
entrance hall has magnificent tile work and a lovely
sculptured staircase to the upper floors. The first floor
apartment is inspired by attractive oriental design.
Eixample, lively from early morning
until the wee hours, is the center of Barcelona's urban
living, with one architectural delight after another
housing apartments, businesses and vibrant shopping,
eating and drinking establishments.
We do not like having dinner from
21:00 to 23:00 as the natives do, so we decided to have
our main meal at lunch and a light dinner in the evening,
which worked well for us. Some eating places stay open
from lunchtime through dinner and others open at 19:30 to
20:00 to accommodate earlier diners. Basically you can
eat well whenever you choose.
Ciudad Condal, a few steps from our
hotel at the corner of Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes
and Rambla de Catalunya, was excellent for breakfast. It's
a typical Barcelona Bar-Cafe with a long counter with
stools and a separate dining area in the rear. The
counter is filled with snack foods reflecting the time of
the day. In the morning there is a selection of meat and
cheese sandwiches and pastries. Other items can be
ordered. The service is fast. At breakfast, we had
excellent cappuccino with either a croissant or ensimada
(a round plain soft dough sprinkled with powdered sugar).
One early evening we found Fresc Co, an all-you-can-eat, all-inclusive buffet
for under 10.00 euro per person. They have many locations
around the city - this one was at Ronda Universitat 29,
around the corner from our hotel. The well-maintained
self-serve buffets feature a large array of fresh
vegetables and salads, hot offerings of pasta, pizza,
soup and grilled vegetables, desserts of fresh fruit and
soft ice cream plus beverages ranging from water to soft
drinks to wine. The staff works hard at cleaning the
tables and floors constantly. This was a perfect solution
for a day when a completely casual, healthy dinner seemed
like a good idea. If you want a simple meal, we highly
recommend Fresc Co as an excellent, great value, option.
The only other meal we had in the
Eixample area was at Trobador, Rambla de Catalunya 24. This smart-looking
contemporary restaurant is part of a group that operates
many others in the city. They are open all the time and
we were ready for an early dinner. The menu is fairly
extensive but we wanted something easy and the grilled
items seemed the way to go. This was a good decision.
Linda enjoyed a large hamburger (sans bun) and I a half
of grilled rabbit. Both were served with grilled
artichoke and potato. Prices were reasonable for the
quality and environment.
After paying tribute to GaudÝ and
his contemporaries, we spent most of our time in the
Ciutat Vella (old City) in the Gothic and La Ribera
Quarters and La Rambla. We did a little exploring in the
El Raval Quarter but even the police on the street
discouraged us from spending too much time (even during
the day) for security reasons.
La Rambla, which separates Barri
Gothic from El Raval, has a life of its own. The Via
Laietana is a wide shopping and business street that
bridges Barri Gothic and La Ribera. The entire length and
breadth of La Rambla from Praša Catalunya to the
Columbus Monument at the harbor is filled with life and
energy day and night. Locals and visitors were enjoying
the multitude of shopping, refreshment and entertainment
options along the narrow sidewalks and wide attractive
central pedestrian way where very creative mime
performers and street entertainers dotted the scene.
There are many budget
accommodations and eating options nearby and this is home
turf for many of the young people visiting the city,
which adds to the lively pulse of the boulevard.
the same business, run by the same family, for at least
100 years are designated by square metal plaques, adorned
with symbols of the trade guilds, imbedded in the
sidewalks at their entrances. The plaques are engraved
with the name, date of inception, and the date the plaque
was awarded. Seeking out these historic institutions and
buildings added another dimension for us.
Heading south on the left is the
Baroque 17th century Palau Moja while across the way is
another Baroque beauty the Church of Betlem. From Carrier
Carme to Carria Hospital is a section flanked by huge
banana trees known as Rambla de les Flors with its flower
Next we came to
the famous Boqueria Market. Originally it was an open-air
market, a roof was installed in 1914 and it was remodeled
a while ago. It's a large, almost endless succession of
stalls beautifully presenting fine quality produce, meat,
fish, cheeses, breads, nuts, candies etc. at reasonable
prices. Three hundred families earn their living
operating the stalls.
Further south is the Gran Teatre
del Liceu. Within its very simple exterior is one of the
largest, most opulent halls in the world. A block south
is the Palau Guell by GaudÝ with its stone and wrought
iron fašade and parabolic arches in the entrance hall.
It has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Across the way is the gorgeous arcaded square, Plaša
Reial, flanked by identical buildings, built in the mid
19th century. As we continued south we came to the Pla
del Teatre, the city's first theater, built in the 16th
The lower part of La Rambla has no
trees but we found the 17th century Church of Santa
Monica with a lovely Baroque cloister (I love cloisters).
It's now the center d'Art Santa Monica, an art and
cultural center of the Generalitat. Across the way is a
handsome 18th century building which is the seat of the
Department of Culture of the Generalitat and exhibition
center. There is a handicraft market held in this area on
We found ourselves constantly on
the Rambla, whether to buy a bottle of water, orange
juice or wine in the supermarket or on our way in or out
of Barri Gothic or just to enjoy the energy.
The Barri Gothic is Barcelona's
historical and political center. This former ancient
fortified Roman City of Barcino is a treasure of charming
narrow streets and squares home to historic monuments and
modern institutions. In our wanderings we found some
excellent restaurants, unique shops, interesting antique
dealers, and examples of a book selling-tradition (Carrer
Two well-preserved sections of the
ancient Roman Walls and two Quadrangular towers from the
city's second walled precinct greeted us in Plaša Nova.
Nearby is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Construction
began in the 13th century and the fašade was not
completed until the late 19th. Inside, of particular note,
are the primary altar and the crypt of Santa Eulalia. The
cloister, which is accessed through a door next to the
sacristy or off of Carrer Bisbe, a very narrow street
that runs along the west side of the Cathedral, is a
beauty with a central garden and pond.
Carrer Tapineria along another
striking section of the Roman wall led to Plaša de Ramon
Berenguer el Gran with the grand sight of the walls, the
remains of the old Palau Reial Major, with a 40 meter
bell tower, and the equestrian statue of Ramon Berenguer
Carrer Sots-tinent Navarro took us
to Via Llibreteria into Plaša Del Rei in which are
located the Great Royal Palace, The Chapel of St Agatha,
City's Historical Museum, and Tinell Hall supported by 6
stone semi-circular arches. Ruins of the ancient Roman
city are under this square.
Llibreteria then led to Plaša de
Sant Jaume, site of the former Roman Forum and now
appropriately the administrative center of the city. The
Palau de la Generalitat (headquarters of the autonomous
Government of Catalonia) is a 16th century renaissance
era building. There is an imposing interior staircase and
famous 16th century Courtyard of the Oranges. The 14th
century Adjuntament (Town Hall) has a main neoclassic
fašade facing the square and a Gothic fašade on Carrer
Ciutat. The large attractive square was always humming
with activity as this is the hub of the Gothic Quarter
with adjoining streets running directly north-south and
east-west, connecting all quarters of the old city and
Plaša Catalunya to the waterfront.
Carrer dell Call runs west from
Plaša de Sant Jaume and connects to Carrer Banys Nous
and Carrer Palla which form the border of the old Jewish
Quarter which is called, El Call (Catalan for narrow
passage). We patrolled the narrow passageways in search
of the Sinagoga Medieval de
Barcelona and finally found
it at Carrer Marlet 5, near the corner of Carrer St.
Domenec dell Call which runs north of Carrer dell Call
just west of Plaša de Sant Jaume.
Watch your head on the steps
because if you are not paying attention you will receive
a nasty bump on your head, as I did. In this sub-basement
are the remains of a 5th century synagogue on which the
14th century medieval synagogue was built. There is a
small museum adjacent, with artifacts donated by Jews
around the world.
The fact that the main fašade of
the building faces south-east toward Jerusalem confirmed
that this was indeed the location of medieval synagogue.
Later excavation laid bare the adjacent ancient Roman
walls of the Forum.
Around the corner at Carrer Banys
Nous 10, in the rear of S'Oliver furniture shop, are the
remains of the ancient mens baths. The staff was
quite happy to direct us to the well-preserved pillars,
arches and ceiling, now home to modern day furnishings.
Further down Banys Nous at the
corner of Carrer La Palma is the Cafe Caelum in the
basement of which is the remains of the mikves (women's
baths). We were too early as they do not allow visitors
until 16:00, so plan accordingly.
Today there about 6,000 to 8,000
Jewish people in Barcelona with two active Sephardic
congregations, one Lubavitch and one Reform. There are
many monuments of Jewish history in the city. On Montjuic
(Jewish mountain) there is a Jewish cemetery and the
castle has ancient tombstones on display. There is also
the Plaša d'Anna Frank in the Gracia District with a
bronze sculpture of the squares' namesake.
At the east end of Carrer de la
Palla is the delightfully tranquil and charming Plaša
Sant Felip Neri with the pretty baroque church of Sant
Felip Neri. At the other end of the street is Plaša de
Sant Josep Oriol next to beautiful, peaceful Plaša del
Pi with a church of the same name. The design is
representative of Catalan Gothic religious architecture.
It is famous for its enormous rose window and 54 metre
high octagonal bell tower.
Nearby Carrer Petrixol is a
delightful old fashioned way with unique antique shops
and several well known "granajas", cafes that
specialize in dairy products and pastries. We understood
that Barcelona was famous for hot chocolate and that the
best was to be found at La Pallaresa on this street. The
windows of the shop feature displays of tantalizing
pastries and hot chocolate with and without whipped cream.
The chocolate was thick enough to be eaten with a spoon,
once you found your way through the awesome whipped cream,
though it was a bit too sweet for our taste.
We had other eating experiences in
the Gothic District. Granja M. Viader, Carrer Montjuic
del Carme is the founder of bottled milk, chocolate milk
and the famous hot chocolate. It's one of those
businesses that qualified for a 100 year plus plaque in
front of the entrance. The counter and cases are filled
with authentic, traditional quality products, all home
made. We passed on the hot chocolate but had a wonderful
breakfast of mato (ricotta like cheese) with honey and
walnuts, croissant and ensimada. The coffee was just okay.
Our favorite meals in the district
were at Los Caracoles, Escudellers 14. This restaurant is famous
for grilled chicken and, of course, caracoles (snails)
but we managed to find some other delights as well.
Besides having wonderful food, it's a fun place. It
starts at the front with chickens grilling in the window
and continues past a friendly, long bar into the open
kitchen, with chefs at flat grills and stove tops with
their sizzling skillets. The sight, sound and aroma of
meat and seafood preparation before our eyes stirred the
appetite as we were guided to a table around the corner.
There are many rooms on various levels where they can
handle private parties from 14 to 100 people. The
atmosphere is old wood and tile with walls covered with
photos of the famous who dined here. Crusty rolls arrived
in the shape of giant snails. We started with a mixed
salad and of course the caracoles. I unwrapped a
toothpick and plucked the first victim from its hideout
and was amazed at the size and tenderness of the plump
critter. The sauce was awesome, a mixture of tomato,
carrot, garlic, sweet red wine and hot pepper. The great
reputation is well deserved. The house red wine was light
and fruity. I had a half grilled chicken with crisp skin
and juicy flesh while Linda's grilled baby kid rib chops
were the love of her life. Our mains were served with
French fries and both were wonderful. We returned another
day to satisfy Linda's need for a repeat rib fest while I
had to try the grilled rabbit. The chops came through
again and the half of meaty rabbit was grilled to
A few doorways away is the popular
budget priced La Fonda, Escudellers, 10. There is
generally a long lineup but we arrived for a late lunch
and walked right in. It's a modern environment on two
levels. We were impressed with our fish soup and
shellfish cream soup, both were full of the flavor of
their respective ingredients. Linda had a spinach salad
which was okay while my hake in a crab sauce was rubbery
and the frozen vegetables and boiled potato were served
cool. I would prefer to pay a bit more and have better
quality and preparation.
There are some wonderful specialty
food shops in the district such as Pastisseria Escriba on
La Rambla (a 100 year place) with showcases filled with
mouthwatering pastries. Off Carrer Portaferrissa is a
tiny marvelous delicatessen selling regional sausages,
wines, cheeses etc. and for nougat lovers, don't miss Les
Torroneries del Carrer de la Cucurulla, where they make
the product on the premises in the traditional way. So
many more, just stroll around and discover.
La Ribera, separated from the
Gothic Quarter by Via Laietana, is an enchanting maze of
streets which were originally home to the commerce and
navigation guilds of Barcelona. Walking down Carrer
Argenteria we came to Plaša de Santa Maria and the 14th
century Church of Santa Maria del Mar (Basilica of Holy
Mary of the Sea), a beautiful rendition of Catalonian
gothic architecture. Three elegant soaring naves, fine
stained glass windows and an impressive 15th century rose
window are the highlights of this elegant structure.
Passeig del Born is a rectangular
Plaša rather than a boulevard which, in the middle ages,
was the site of tournaments and popular festivals. El
Born is a very popular destination for locals and
visitors, as it was on this sunny warm Sunday. Boasting
an array of up-to-date restaurants, cafes, bars, shops
and fashion stores, without losing its traditional flavor,
it's a great place for people watching.
Carrer Montcada is a narrow way
filled with medieval palaces many of which now house
museums and art galleries. Five of these palaces now are
home to the Museo Picasso. The comprehensive collection
offers works from the artist's youth and formative years.
Also highlighted is a series of interpretations of
Velazquez's Las Meninas dating from 1957, ceramics and
Picasso addicts will want to find
Quatre Gats in the Gothic Quarter on Carrer Montisio, a
bar where Picasso regularly took part in intellectual
debates with his friends. There are many drawings and
paintings which bear witness to his time spent there. The building
housing the bar is a gothic beauty with sculptures
adorning the fašade and wonderful stone work around the
On the north side of Plaša Nova
where many streets come together is the Architects
building which displays the only piece of public art by
Picasso. Done by the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar
according to the original designs by Picasso, there are
three friezes of the Mediterranean; the giants, the
children and the Catalan flag.
Back in La Ribera, on Av. de
Francesc is the inviting Mercat de Sta. Caterina. We were
drawn to it by its distinctive wavy colorful roof and
delighted to stroll the aisles of fresh food products. It
is an updated version of the old Mercat de la Boqueria.
We had a few excellent dining
experiences here in the Ribera. Usually we avoid
restaurants that seem to appear on every list but this
time we were convinced that 7 Portes 1836
at Passeig Isabel 11-14 was worth a try. We were not
disappointed. While many tourists find their way here, it
is a regular destination for the locals, for the past 170
years. The environment is refined traditional. There are
many dining rooms and areas designed for comfort and
We started with large white
asparagus served with 3 sauces; mayonnaise, salsa romesco
(tomato, almonds, hazelnuts, vinegar), salsa verde (onion,
gherkins, hard boiled egg, olive oil and vinegar). The
asparagus alone was a treat, add the two salsa's and you're
in heaven. Spinach-stuffed cannelloni is baked with a
touch of cheese on top and luscious bÚchamel sauce.
Service was friendly, helpful and professional. No
rushing here, appropriate time between courses to digest
and prepare for the next treat.
In spite of the fact we have never
been paella lovers, we felt it was necessary to give it a
try. We decided on paella parellada (fish and seafood
only), called rich man's paella. This version was
different from others we have had in the past in that it
was deep brown in color. Flavored by the sauce called
sofregit, a mixture of olive oil, onion, tomato, parsley,
sage, garlic and other seasonings, it contained a good
variety of ocean goodies but we must confess that we were
not won over. It was a relaxing and very enjoyable lunch.
Al Xampanyet on Carrer de Montcada
has been serving tapas since 1929. This tiny ancient
place has just a few tables and a stand up counter on
which some of the day's offerings are displayed. It was
jam-packed when we arrived but we lucked-out when a
couple signaled us that they were leaving and we were
able to snag their table almost immediately. The waiter
was quickly with us and suggesting (in Spanish) various
delights. We are quick learners and were soon consuming
bread and oil, anchovies, sliced ham, hot pepper stuffed
with tuna, cheese and homemade potato chips. Linda had
wonderful sidre (cider) and I a beer. This was the real
Catalan experience. Happy folks enjoying simple foods and
The final restaurant in Ribera
worth mentioning is Origen 99.9%,
Carrer Vidrieria. The entrance to the small dining room
is through the shop where they sell wines, preserves,
candy, etc. The menu is presented as part of a glossy
magazine of their own production. There are full color
photos of every offering with a brief description of the
preparation. Prices are very reasonable for both the
traditional and more creative offerings.
We were served bread sticks with
two marvelous dips both with goat cheese as the base -
one with garlic and olive oil, the other with figs and
pineapple. Linda's chestnut and pumpkin soup was quite
wonderful while my whole onion stuffed with meat was a
first and fabulous. Linda found the preparation of the
chicken with plums and pine kernels to be nicely flavored
as was my wild boar stew. The chicken legs and boar were
a bit tough, however. With better quality cuts it would
have been really good but heck at these low prices, it
was quite acceptable. The big negative is that they
customarily serve all courses simultaneously and the
service was poor. The place has potential but needs
Down at the waterfront we headed
for Barceloneta and strolled the length of Passeig de
Juan de Borbon which borders the port. This esplanade is
lined with seafood restaurants. The smell of fresh
grilled shrimps, lobster and fish filled the air. The
tables in front of each establishment were packed with
eager diners and platters of seafood were piled high.
At the end of the
esplanade we came to the beachfront where locals were
strolling the boardwalk or taking sun on the sand. Not
too far away is the Olympic Port, easily recognized by
the towering graceful bronze metal sculpture of the
"Peix" (fish). This is a lively center for
relaxing over a snack, nice meal or your favorite
beverage surrounded by parks and beautiful beaches.
In six days we managed to explore
many major sights and get a feel of the city. Like any
big city it will take a lot more time to achieve a
complete level of knowledge, understanding and comfort.
We do know that Barcelona is a very
clean city. Both public and private businesses are
constantly washing the sidewalks and streets. We saw
graffiti being cleaned off a wall by city workers who
carefully matched the paint color before repainting the
The street and directional signing
is flawless; it is very easy to find your way around. The
transportation system is excellent and it is very easy to
get to all parts of the city in an efficient manner.
The tourist organization does a
superb job of marketing the city. Just go to the big
"i" in Plaša Catalunya and downstairs you will
get all the help you need and can book excellent bus and
walking tours that are very worthwhile.
We found absolutely no language
problems with our English and faint memories of high
school Spanish. Barcelona is bi-lingual, Spanish and
Catalan, which is different. Most menus are in Spanish,
Catalan and English.
Vueling transported us back to Roma
with the same on-time efficiency that brought us to
Barcelona, the very civilized Catalan/Spanish city we
discovered during our winter trip to Italy!
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