Well, I’ve got two things to write about today, food and food. Wait. I mean food and a castle. corwin and Kate slept in while I got up to write up what happened on days 2 & 3. I had a nice hot bath to start the day and relieve the kinks and sore muscles from all the climbing and walking, then went down to the lobby to write and use the free wifi.
I must say I highly recommend the Travelodge Poblenou as a great budget hotel in Barcelona. It was built recently so everything is new. It’s a bit bare bones but for comparison a four-night stay package there cost about the same as what a single night in a medium-high quality place would. They have a breakfast buffet for 7,50 euro, free wifi in the lobby, free luggage storage, a 24 hour bar (! yes!). The room was impeccably clean, the pillows firm and the mattresses good. The Poblenou neighborhood turned out to be a gem, not touristy, very nice, safe, and full of charm, too. Five stars, would stay again.
Once we got going today, we had another pass through Boheme bakery to try a bunch more things. A crispy, chocolate dipped “angel hair” pastry (not the ensaimada, more of a crisp fried twist), a chocolate flauta (flute), a brioche, I can’t even remember what else. That was supposed to tide us over until we could get the rental car. But we trekked via transit all the way to Sants rail station to the pickup office only to discover that corwin needed his passport (as the driver) and he had left it packed in the luggage we had stored at the Travelodge. So we trekked back to the Poblenou, decided to have lunch, and ended up having a three-course prix fixe at the place that had become our favorite in the neighborhood, La Biennal. For 10,50 each we got a starter, main dish, and dessert, with coffee/tea and a beverage! (The beverage alone was 3,50 each for sparkling water sometimes.) We feasted on eggs stuffed with tuna, a tomatoey lentil & potato stew, a fish soup, “secrecto iberico” grilled pork, whole mero (which the Internet says is grouper), and filet of dorado (which the internet says is mahi mahi). And rice pudding and a banana cake that was more like a banana flan on chocolate cake. Yum.
We then succeeded in getting the car but the drive to Park Guell was a bit of a disaster, as we could find nowhere within a mile of the park to park, so we ended up giving up and going back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and heading out of town having accomplished only one thing on the day: lunch.
The drive to Cardona was lovely, through the mountains. We saw some amazing mountains on the way including one that looked like dragon’s teeth.
And it was just sunset as we were driving up the steep steep mountain to the castle that is our night’s destination. The Parador de Cardona was a real castle and large parts of it are now in use as the parador (inn). We checked in, wandered down to the bar for a drink of local moscatel on the stone terrace, and then to dinner.
The waiter seemed to think we were ordering too much food. We convinced him to bring it anyway. Seafood soup with clams, hake, monkfish, lobster, and prawns, cod three textures: bacalao confit, fried, and creamed with potatoes, and a veal filet with foie gras on top. That was after starting with a cured meats platter, cream of leek soup, and melon and duck proscuitto salad. To finish we had whiskey cream and an almond cake with moscatel. And I had a Pu-Ehr tea that surprised me how good it was given that it came in a tea bag. Earthy and strong, it was the perfect thing to cut the sugar of the dessert and to linger over while we caught the parador’s wifi in the dining room.
Then we walked around exploring the castle in the dark. It’s lit dramatically with upturned lights and not really meant to be walked around at night, but we didn’t much mind. In the distance we could hear a pack of dogs howling and barking, and see bats flitting about and hear their intermittent sonic chirps. The moon was rising. It’s only a partial moon but still quite bright.
Tomorrow we’ll tour the actual castle and probably the salt mine we can see from one side of the balconies. And then we’ll drive from the mountains to the seashore of St. Pol del Mar (Sant Pau De Mar), where the restaurant of Carme Ruscalleda is located.