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Trip Report A brief report on a brief visit to Barcelona

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Hi all, just back from five days in Barcelona. I was there with my parents - who will soon turn 75 - and my brother and his wife. It was for each of us our first trip to this beautiful city. As usual, I relied on everyone on this forum in planning the trip and am really grateful for all your good insights and advice (special thanks to ekscrunchy for her excellent dining reconnaissance!). We had a wonderful time!!

I won't chronicle all our activities, but will offer a few observations. Let me first say that five days was not nearly enough time to do and see everything. We went heavy on the Gaudi because OMG it is all jaw-droppingly amazing. But there were many important sites that I did not see or that I saw only briefly, and we didn't get to take any day trips, so I will have to go back. . . . As many others have noted, you definitely want to purchase your Sagrada Familia tickets online so you don't have to stand in that insanely long line. Also, I screwed up our Park Guell visit by taking the metro. This would have been fine for the youngsters in the group, but my parents had a tough time with the giant hill (even with the escalators). It would have been much better to take a taxi or a bus.

One highlight was a tour on motorcyles with sidecars. This was a TA find and it was super wonderful. We took the tour on our first day and it gave us a great overview of the city. Joao, who runs Bright Side, is really lovely, as were the other guides Esther and Matthieu. And it was an ideal way for us to cover a lot of ground without walking everywhere (which was not possible with my parents) or taking an impersonal bus tour. I highly recommend it. http://www.ridebrightside.com/

I also took a running tour (another TA find) with Running Tours Barcelona. For those of us who like to run in new cities, the running tour is a wonderful concept, and Robin was a terrific guide. I did this on my last day and it was a great way to tie everything together (and also to see Park Guell without any other people in it!). http://www.runningtoursbarcelona.com/

Now for the food. We started with lunch at Bar Mut, which was fantastic. It isn't inexpensive, but the food was well executed and delicious. We had lots of seafood - every kind of clam, mussels, lobster, scorpion fish (really ugly but tasty), langoustine. Plus some patatas bravas, croquettes and jamon. A great wine selection and great service. It was my favorite meal of our trip. We also hit Xampanyet for tapas. Standard fare, but the scene was lively and atmospheric. The next night we went to Tapac 24 - very fun and yummy ("ñam, ñam"). The offerings were quite rich, dishes like smashed eggs w/ foie gras, fried rabbit ribs (heavenly), oxtail, grilled cheese w/ truffles, and eggplant "guacamole" (really good).

And here is where the story takes a bad turn. I woke up the third morning with a punky stomach. The timing was terrible because we were having lunch at Cinc Sentits. I figured it was a passing thing and did feel a little better after a glass of cava and some of the beautiful amuse bouche. But as lunch progressed, I started to feel not so well. By the time they brought out the gorgeous tenderloin w/ truffled potatoes, I was done. I could not eat another bite. And when the wine captain came to pour the wine for our "first dessert," my stomach went into full revolt. I had to flee the restaurant, leaving my family to enjoy (and they did enjoy!!) the next three courses. I spent the next 12 hours in bed and was not able to enjoy any of our meals for the rest of the trip. TRAGEDY!!

Having a stomach thing is really unusual for me - I've traveled all over the place (including Spain), I have eaten and drunk everything in sight, and haven't ever had an issue. But I guess my body was not happy with all of the foie and the truffles and the eggs and the fried stuff. Just the thought of it . . . . And so, I have learned my lesson. I can overindulge in many places, but not in Barcelona. The next time I go, I will eat at that cute little Vietnamese restaurant near the Cathedral!

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