Sunday, June 06, 2010


Our tearful departure from Abercorn wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected (except for me!). The kids, now with Mia & Kai, waved us off as I snivelled and bawled in the car. The flights were seamless, except for one AC employee telling us that checking our bags in would not hamper our attempt to get on an earlier flight, only to find out five minutes later that we couldn't possibly get on an earlier flight if our bags were already checked. Thankfully, it was the only hiccup.

Despite all my best efforts to sleep on the flight — coughing up for the stupid, fleece-covered donut pillow, the black satin eye mask, the 50 decibel earplugs, not to mention draining my parents' pharma shelf of some major tranquilizers — I still only managed to get in an hour or two. I ended up curled up on the floor (which elicited a "well... aren't you flexible!" from the stewardess as we deplaned.)

The trip into Barcelona was fun — figuring out the quickest and cheapest way in on the train. We wandered up the Rambla de la Catalunya and found our little hotel (Praktik Rambla) tucked into a non-descript facade. The young receptionist was lovely but our room wouldn't be ready until at least noon and it was only 9. Aargh. She handed us a free umbrella for the spitting sky, we left her with our bags and headed out. We stopped in to a little bar/resto next door and pulled up a couple of stools. Delicious, creamy cafe con leche with a yummy little crunchy sandwich — a lot like a ciabatta with slices of serrano ham and cheese. We strolled down the tourist-choked Rambla, a gorgeous, wide pedestrian avenue lined with vendors — of postcards and souvenirs and songbirds — that leads all the way to the beach.

We were impressed with the strings of Bicing bikes (like bixies in Montreal) strewn all across town but were disappointed to find that they weren't available to tourists. We opted instead for a pair of black witch-in-the-wizard-of-oz bikes. We hopped on and headed over up to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's freakish cathedral. We didn't brave the interior, the line-ups were just too long. Sundays in Barcelona are quiet. No traffic to speak of. A perfect introduction to pedalling around the town.

We made a quick stop at the place next door for a beer and a taste of one of their yummy tapes. A piece of bread covered with a mahi-mahi mousse, topped with aa fresh anchovy and a little pickled pepper and a yummy platter of mixed olives. mmmmm. Quick, oh-so-delicious nap at the hotel. The room is lovely, a strange combo of classic and modern, fifteen-foot high ceiling with elaborate plasterwork, painted in black and white stripes with the addition of an ultra-modern bathroom housed in a mirrored box in the corner of the room. Every inch of floor covered in beautiful tilework that changes from room to hall. Our little balcony overlooks the Rambla. Feeling seriously lucky. After our snooze, we climbed the hill on our bikes (puff, puff) to Parc Güell, the crazy multi-level park with a killer view of the sea designed by Gaudi and where he spent his final years. After the climb up to the park, we cruised back down through the lovely labyrinth that is Barcelona.

Later on to Taller de Tapas for a bottle of rosé, a plate of octopus and potato in olive oil and paprika, buñuelos, little deep-fried croquettas of salt cod (I couldn't help thinking of us crowding around Ana Maria's frying pan on those lucky days on Wilson avenue) and last, but definitely not least, a plate of a variety of fresh mushrooms fried in olive oil and caramelized garlic with parsley. Spectacular food. We returned the bikes, bought a brick of Torró d'Alacant - almonds, honey, sugar and egg whites, my new favourite sweet thing and then home for a little R&R and then off to supper at 10!

We searched high and low for a place we'd read about but we couldn't find it. Instead, we settled into a couple of chairs on the sidewalk outside a cute little family place on a corner. With nary a tourist in sight, which is no easy feat in Barcelona. A bottle of cava open on many tables. We had fresh grilled sardines (which are in no way related to the goopy, oily mess that comes out of the can), a fish soup (which couldn't have been more different from the Mexican version) a thickish, tomatoey soup with chunks of white fish and rice. A little green salad, lettuce, tomatoes and onions with a bottle of oil and a bottle of vinegar brought to the table. And slices of chewy baguette. All rounded off by a bottle of chilly cava.


Unknown said...

sigh...this sounds fabulous! rico y todo!!!

Annabelle said...

Your hotel in Barcelona sounds lovely, must get name for when Nic and I are there in August. "Spitting rain"?? What-what? I am allowing only sunshine for the next week! See you both soon.

p.s. let's go for dinner ASAP and please please order for Zena and I. Everything Spanish you eat sounds exquisitely charmed.