It’s 3pm Barcelona time and it has taken us three hours to get to our hotel from the airport via public transit. Every station is under construction and every transfer we made we had to walk from one end to the other, plus we always managed to come out the wrong exit. But we did happen to walk right by the Casa Batillo, the Gaudi house that is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea themed. It was the one thing a friend of ours told us we should not miss. We didn’t go in–there was a huge queue. I was as amused watching the large crowd on the sidewalk taking pictures of the house as I was of the house.
But anyway, here I am at the Travelodge Poblenou. Nice clean accommodation, in fact, it’s sort of “hotel room a la Ikea.” Seems like a pretty nice neighborhood, lots of cafes and bars, but a little bit away from the main tourist drags. Hey! We can see the towers of Sagrada Familia from our hotel room! As well as a huge phallic building that looks a lot like a building I saw in London.
The thing we need most now is showers after spending the last 14 or so hours traveling. It’s hot here in Barcelona, too, so we’re sweaty from lugging our bags around on the trains. I see why it is called “luggage.” Showers and then to find something to eat. Kate arrives later–she hasn’t even left Amsterdam yet.
So we walked the Rambla de Poblenou, a very nice promenade lined with cafes and tapas restaurants that runs past our hotel, and after getting a tiny palmera to eat while we walked (a palmera is an elephant ear cookie) from a bakery. They had huge ones, too, as big as both my hands put together, and huge ones DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE but there was no way I was going to have the capacity for one of those. The neighborhood is partly residential, there are some elementary schools along the street, and lots of parents were picking up their kids when we were walking around 4:30.
Palmeras, and my finger for scale.
We settled on a tapas place called La Biennal, and had a fantastic meal that I teased my Twitter and Instagram followers with photos of. Wow, my grammar is shot from jet lag. After eating we took a two-hour nap, which was the most we’d slept yet since leaving Boston 24 hours earlier. And then Kate arrived and we discovered that the big phallic building has a crazy colorful lightshow on it at night! This week is the Festival of Merce, the patron saint of Barcelona, so there are all kinds of huge celebrations going on. It’s actually good, I think, that we’re leaving town on the day before the huge to-do because that day the trains shut down.
Once Kate had unpacked, we went to eat another great meal, this one the other direction on Rambla Poblenou, at La Mar Bella, where we had a seafood and meat paella with langostines on it, plus mussels and pork ribs and squid tentacles, and a giant baked puff pastry stuffed with blue cheese, and white asparagus, and a dessert I’d never had before. They called it helado de limoncello, and it was lemon ice cream with a lemon curd center, rolled in crushed meringue. Delish.
Walking home I was tempted by a gelato stand with tiny tiny cones for 1,10 euro, but I was too full and my throat hurts a little so ice cream was probably a bad idea.
I hope the sore throat is just from airplane dryness and my usual allergies. I’m dosing up vitamin C and going to bed now.
The wifi here is dicey so uploading a lot of pictures isn’t working well, but whenever I have been able to snarf some wifi from cafes or airports I’ve been posting to my Twitter feed or Instagram, so look for me there to see all the photos, some of which are interesting road signs and buildings, but it’s mostly food so far. On Instagram I’m ctan_writer and on Twitter I’m @ceciliatan.
View from our hotel window, Sagrada Familia on left, big phallic building on right.