Barcelona in 3 days: Trip Report

Old Nov 13th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Barcelona in 3 days: Trip Report

First of all, thanks again to everyone on this board for their kindness and expertise. I could not have planned this so easily without you.

We arrived in Barcelona early Sunday morning after a Windstar cruise and were immediately impressed by the taxi driver who made do with my very poor Spanish and apologized profusely when he could not take us to the door of our hotel due to road construction. The city was pretty quiet that morning, the only time it was during our 3 day stay, especially on Las Ramblas. Our room was not ready so we walked up the street toward the Eixample neighborhood. I had a walking tour highlighting modern architecture and we had a great time seeing the various “houses” including the Gaudi masterpieces. The tour of La Pedrera was terrific, especially the apartment and the roof.

Dinner that evening, thanks to help from this gracious board, was at 7 Portes. We shared a mixed appetizer plate of seafood and meats, a mixed paella and crème Catalan, all very good. It was fun to eat in such an institution. Despite the fact we were there very early by Barcelona standards (around 7pm) there was already a line of primarily tourists. Oh well....

The following day we visted the Boqueria Market for a quick breakfast and a look around. I am told it is the largest market in Europe and it was fascinating. We were later told, however, that Monday is not the best day to visit because there is little seafood, so we did return the next day to see some very interesting displays of fish and shellfish. Late that morning we had a cooking class with Julio at The Coquus Cooking school (www.coquus.es) . We basically learned to make the meal we had enjoyed the night before. We usually do a cooking class on vacation, and this was one of the best. It was hands on, which is always more fun, the space was beautifully laid out and immaculate, Julio and his wife Am were gracious and fun, and we had a great time.

After happily consuming the fruits of our labors we walked to Sagrada Familia, an absolute must for anyone visiting Barcelona even for only an afternoon. The architecture is unbelievable as is the scale – I have never seen anything like it. In addition, it is a work in progress allowing you to see the construction first hand. There is no other word for it but beautiful. After our visit we trudged back to the Gracia district to wait for a store Julio had told us about to reopen for the evening. We wanted to purchase a paella (apparently the word pan is superfluous) and ended up buying one for 4 people at 4E and one for eight at 7.2E. It was fun to return home to a catalogue of Spanish food on my table and find the exact same pans for $25 and $40 respectively plus S&H! The store is called Ferreteria Soriano on C/ Mayor de Gracia. It had to be 150 years old and was full of interesting cooking gadgets.

Since we had indulged heavily at lunch we decided on tapas for our evening meal and arrived at Cal Pep at around 8pm. We had to wait maybe 20 minutes for a seat at the long counter. It was as advertised. We never ordered a thing but the wine and the food just kept coming until we said “Basta” in total surrender. The guy next to me did have some great looking tuna tartar and I did manage to get a sample from the waiter. It was an enjoyable experience of very good food and hectic fun atmosphere, but it was not inexpensive.

Our last day was spent in the Gothic quarter, my favorite part of the city. We wandered around the narrow streets, popped into the cathedral, shopped and listened to a classical guitarist in one of the placas (we bought his CD out of his guitar case and it has made a nice souvenir). We had a nice lunch of tapas again at Taller de Tapas. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the Maritime Museum. Their full scale model of a Spanish Galleon was very interesting as was the ship model given to the museum by a museum in my home town.

Our last evening in Barcelona and Europe was spent celebrating our anniversary at Cinc Sentits (thanks again to the gracious Claire for making our reservations). We indulged in the first tasting menu: 7 courses plus two little gifts from the chef plus wine with each course for 95E pp. The entire experience was sublime. The food was just the right quantity for so many courses, it was as beautiful to look at as to taste and it was expertly explained and served by the sister of the chef. It was a perfect end to our perfect vacation.

One word on our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Monte Carlo on the northern part of Las Ramblas, and therefore within walking distance of everything. I had splurged on a room with a Jacuzzi because I can get my husband to do almost any amount of shopping and sightseeing if he knows there is a Jacuzzi bath for him at the end of the day (we honestly walked well over 30 miles in three days, the poor guy). The room was lovely and included a bedroom, a small living area and a huge bathroom. As nice as the room was, it was nothing compared to the level of service from the staff who were universally kind and attentive. I usually do not return to the same hotel just because I like to try something different, but when I return to Barcelona, I will go nowhere other than the Hotel Monte Carlo.


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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 04:30 AM
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Awesome! Isn't Barcelona fabulous? it's my favorite travel memory of all time. I loved La Boqueria,and could've stayed there all day. Two other places we loved that you didn't mention were Parc Guell and La Palau de la Musica.

Sounds like you crammed as much as you could of that fabulous city into three days. Barcelona kept us on a dead run for a solid week trying to get it all in.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Nice report. I'm really torn about 7 Portes....some people (I think even Claire) say it's good; others say it's a total tourist trap.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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missypie- I posted directions, but have not eaten there myself, so can only recommend based on what others have said. I would not go so far as to say tourist trap, though it does seem a bit expensive. Then again, with their location and desirable menu, I can see why.

Joanne- glad you had a nice time and it seems like that was some good eating!
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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Is there a restaurant with a similar menu that more of the locals frequent?
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Sounds like a fun visit.

Glad you enjoyed Set Portes. I would gladly go back to that particular tourist trap and order again the paella and the grilled fish, which I loved.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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We didn't investigate many other places than 7 Portes for that particular meal for 2 reasons: one was the fact that Sunday can be difficult due to the fact that many restaurants are closed and secondly 7 Portes serves from about 1:00pm on without break so a 7:00 to 8:00pm meal for my husband the first night he had to adapt to the late dining hour in Spain was possible. We had a fine time and would be happy to return tonight! Joanne
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 12:21 PM
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bkm
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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The idea of dinner "anytime" appeals to me, too, esp. when traveling with kids.
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Old Nov 15th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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It sounds like Joanne and I were on the same Wind Surf, arriving at the Ramblas to find street paving going on. Reaching our hotel turned out to be an adventure!

We did attend a concert at the Palau de la Musica on Sunday night that was great. We also visited La Boqueria, which was fabulous. As far as eating went, we ate twice at Cafe Viena on the Ramblas, having read an article about it in the New York Times a couple of months ago. Their Iberico Jabugo on a baguette is simply the best sandwich we have ever eaten. We'd go back to Barcelona just go have a repeat visit to Cafe Viena.

Diane
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