Saturday, October 13, 2007

The (Personal) Best of Barcelona

Four of my Canadian friends found themselves in Barcelona last week. Not a large number, but one requiring some organization. Reservations were made, itineraries were planned. We walked, we sat, we ate and we drank, rather a lot. The unemployed Barcelona Food Girl was treated to many activities beyond her usual means due to the generosity of her friends, for which she is very grateful.

Over our last dinner, I asked each friend to give me his/her list of Barcelona high points. There were two boys and two girls, two singles and one couple. In no particular order and leaving off the Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum, the high points were (more or less) those below.

An afternoon picinic in Parc Guell: Parc Guell in its time was a failed gated community. Gaudi conceived a garden city, but nobody bought in. After his death, the city turned it into a park filled with glittering mosaics and fantastical aqueducts of yellow stone. In a remoter corner, along the top of one of the aqueducts, run stone benches, which vaguely resemble restaurant booths, at least to the hungry. After the climb up, we recovered in one of these with slightly squashed ham and cheese sandwiches and marzipan cookies. Estimated recovery time post 15 minute walk was 2 hours, give or take a few dozy minutes.

Drinks in Placa Rius i Taulet (Gracia): We sat in one of the cafes bordering the square one afternoon. The famous clocktower was the impromptu goal pummelled by next decade's Diego Maradonna and his five companions. That is, until two beautiful Lolitas sashayed over and put an end to all that silly boy stuff.

Dinner at La Candela in Placa de Sant Pere (Born): The square spreads out intimately at the feet of a beautiful old church and is hushed and empty at night except for the candle lit tables of La Candela. It was my friends' first time in Barcelona and they were silent with wonder at the old square (girl friend) and the young French women at the next table (boy friend). [P.S. See update in Losses post.]

Dinner at Pla (c/ Bellafila 5 (Gotico), 93 412 6552): They had given away our table by the time we arrived, half an hour late for our reservation, the fault of some poor planning and obscure directions. However, we tardied happily at the bar until a table was ready. Once installed, and by then quite tipsy, we proceeded to regale ourselves with our fantastic stories. Hopefully, the terrific food and ambient music softened the blow for the other diners.

Deluge: I had made a reservation at one of the famous Barcelona restaurants in the Born. The plan was to have a drink at Gimlet Bar (c/ Rec 24, 93 310 1027)) at about 9 (I hadn't yet been) and proceed to dinner at 1015. By 830, it had started to rain. No problem for those of us who are in the habit of procuring miracles: we found a cab...eventually. It toook us to Calle Rec, location of said Gimlet. The street's entrance being blocked by a truck, we got out early. By this point, someone had opened a giant tap directly overhead and the sky was spilling. We huddled under our umbrellas in pretence that they were more use than a couple of soggy yarmulkes and tried to tiptoe through the pooling water that was by then in danger of reaching our knees. We couldn't see where we were going. The Gimlet Bar seemed like a fantasy. After two blocks and in near convulsive panic at the strong likelihood of drowning or at least being swept out to sea, we all agreed to go into the next place we saw. And we did. I don't know its name, but they had beer and wine. They served tacos and empanadas. There were tables and chairs. The waitress was understanding. And it was dry. We called to cancel our fancy reservation and proceeded to have an amazing night. When the rain stopped and the state of our clothes improved from sopping to damp, we topped things off at the sultry Gimlet, which we had obliviously passed within seconds of getting out of our cab.

Honourable mentions go to our final dinner on the lovely (and well heated) beach terrace at Agua (Passeig Maritim 30 (Barceloneta), 93 225 1272); the mojitos at Elsa Bar (see prior post); tapas at Cerveceria Catalana (c/ Mallorca 236 (Eixample), 93 216 0368); the sights in the Hotel Omm lobby (c/ Rossello 265 (Eixample), 93 445 4000); the Buda Bar (c/ Pau Claris 92 (Eixample), 93 318 4252), where we mistook the Barcelona Juventud for the then visiting Toronto Raptors; and a take out Spanish tortilla from a neighborhood cafe.

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