Barcelona – An Anniversary Celebration – Day One

Twenty five years – it sounds like a long time, but it really isn’t. Nevertheless, it is a milestone that both my wife and I are proud of. To celebrate, we chose to take a family trip to Barcelona, our favorite city and a city that had a lot to do with connecting us in the first place. She was a Spanish major in college and spent her junior year in Barcelona. I had a comprehensive immersive Spanish program in H.S. and Barcelona had been the memorable first stop on a school trip to Spain. We both shared a strong interest in things Spanish and especially Barcelona. We then saw other things that connected us, got married and here it is, now twenty five years later.

Our middle son, Andrew, was already in Barcelona studying Spanish and our youngest son, Michael, had off from school for spring break. Though our actual anniversary isn’t until the end of May, this would be the best time to go. At first, I wasn’t terribly excited about being there for Easter, but then the idea started to warm up for us and we made our plans.

Our trip did not get off on the right foot, but once we got in the air, we were able to relax and the rest of the journey actually proved quite relaxing and enjoyable. It helps to be able to really sleep on the plane, even if just for a few hours.

We arrived on a beautiful Monday afternoon in the spanking new and beautiful Terminal 1 of Barcelona Airport after a brief layover at Madrid’s gorgeous new Barajas airport terminal (see photo above) and took the reasonably priced and timely bus to the Plaza de Catalunya. Our apartment was situated in a perfect location, on Passeig de Gracia right off the Gran Via. Clean and comfortable, it was ideal for getting around and even for taking advantage of the wonderful food markets and doing a little cooking. For the price of a nice hotel room for two, we had a lovely, spacious apartment for 5.

Food would, of course, be a major focus of this trip, but it wouldn’t be just restaurants. The quality of raw food product available throughout Spain and especially in Barcelona is astounding. One of the reasons for renting an apartment was to have fun cooking with that product and not just eating it in restaurants. That it might also serve to save a few dollars too would not be a bad thing, especially at a time when the dollar is very, very weak compared to the Euro.

Once we settled into our apartment we met Andrew where Las Ramblas runs into the Plaza de Catalunya and we took a nice long stroll past the varied and sundry human statues along Las Ramblas, taking a detour into the Boqueria aka El Mercado de San Josep, into El Barrio Gotico past the old Cathedral and to our son’s apartment.

From Andrew’s apartment we strolled in the sunshine past El Mercado de Santa Caterina to the Ciutadella Park and down to the boat rich Barceloneta area then back to the statue of Columbus at the base of Las Ramblas and back up to our apartment for a much deserved rest.

 

Chef Rafa Peña (center) & his kitchen crew at Gresca

Gresca is a restaurant I had first heard about several years ago at Madrid Fusion, when its chef, Rafael Peña, presented on “Bistronomic” food. The other presenter on this theme was Iñaki Inazpitarte of the restaurant Chateaubriand in Paris. The point of the presentations was to emphasize the developing trend of cost conscious, informal fine dining. Gresca did, indeed, put out some very impressive food at a relatively reasonable price in Euros. His presentations were beautiful, the food delicious and his mastery of technique impressive, especially his signature egg soufflé, a dish that he had also presented at Madrid Fusión.

We were quite exhausted by the end of dinner , so headed back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.

Note: In this series of posts, I am providing an overview of our trip. I intend to write in much more detail about selected experiences as time permits.


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