Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Days in Barcelona

Neither of us had flown Lufthansa before, and I thought the international flight from Boston was great. I was kept entertained by the personal media center in the seat-backs, and the attendants were generous with the wine. And look, I can buy an old seat!

Also, I have no doubt that once Americans figure out the muslei w/ a light (and I mean non-thick) yogurt beverage vs. traditional milk, breakfast will forever change. Dannon "Fit" comes close, but there's no substitute for this amazing european dairy product.

Anyway, we touched down in Barcelona at 10:00 AM local time, and after customs and public transportation, both relatively painless, we arrived at the W shortly before noon. The W hotel here is a bit out of the heart of the city, which is slightly inconvenient, but the luxury of an international business hotel is especially welcome after hour and hours of travel. In retrospect we probably would have stayed closer to the city center.

After unloading our baggage and a powernap, we walked down the nearby beach to pick up a two-day pass for those double decker tourist busses -- you know, those ones that do loops of the city, and you can get off and on at your leisure? They're quite plentiful here, but it's not the only form of public transportation -- There are busses and a subway system as well. Two wheeled transportation (motor and pedal power alike) make up half the vehicle traffic, I'd say. But the bus was fun...the info was so-so, but we got a primo spot on the roof.

We got off at Gracia district, and walked in the direction of Basilica Sagrada Familia, which is one of Antonio Gaudi masterpieces. I didn't know what to expect after seeing a large collection of gothic cathedrals in my day, this was entirely different. Aside from it's organic and unique structure, it's a living building. Constriction only began a little over 100 years ago, and is expected to take another 100 years from now to complete. They are incorporating modern techniques as they are discovered, yet parts of the grounds are actually declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. After walking around the perimeter, even with the hordes of tourists, we decided to go in and take the audio tour. I was simply blown away. Wish I could have gotten internal picts, but my battery died before we took the tour. Well worth it.

Dinner was Basque style tapes y vino in the Born district.

Day two started out embarrassingly MUCH later than expected, but clearly we needed the sleep. After a cafe con leche or two, we bussed it with the intention to visit another Gaudi site, but the rain changed our plans. We has equipped ourselves earlier with umbrellas just in case, so we did manage to get in some walking. For dinner Danielle had arranged meeting up with an old friend of her's who lives in Barcelona, so David met us in the Born district and waited as we stood in line at a famous tapas place that my friend Sassan told me about. When we finally set at the bar, the service was aloof but efficient. They know they've got amazing food that people wait in line for, and they've got no interest in wooing you with service. That said, the food was amazing. We had a delicious baked fish, squid, razor clams, tuna tartare, and pimientos de padron and delicious rioja wine. It was very very good. hectic, because people are standing 6" behind you waiting for you to hurry up and eat, but a very neat experience.

One thing about Barcelona, the food has been Very good. Even thought I've only been here for 2 days, I honestly can't think of anything I've eaten that hasn't been delicious. Internet access is very scarce (the W actually charges 20 euros / day for Wifi, but at least they have a business center with 4 computers), and I think I only spotted one Wi-fi coffee shop. I'm saving this draft straight to my phone, so who knows when it'll actually get published.

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