Welcome to Barcelona–Capital of Catalonia! We wandered through the insane maze of travelers looking for our driver…a bit worried because we were a bit late….and immigration offered an endless labyrinth of people…and my bags were taking their sweet time. We searched for “Lukovic” on a sign…any sign…. This was a cruise arrival day, and Barcelona was hosting a variety of well known events–such as the Basketball World Cup. The airport was packed with jet-lagged travelers walking about in a daze. The Man and I spied Emili, our driver and I let out a breath of relief. Emili took the bags from my hands and started telling us about the goings on in the City – including the Catalan demonstration scheduled for this afternoon in the heart of Barcelona–right by our hotel. The Catalan capital is hoppin.
I needed an ATM and the lines at the airport were excessively ong, but Emili knew of an ATM near our hotel where we would stop along the way. This is why I just love driver service on my arrival day–it takes the stress out of arriving in a city after a long plane ride. My only mission is to find my name on a placard and the rest is taken care of.
The Man and I checked into our hotel, the Hotel Majestic–a historical hotel right in the heart of Barcelona. The location was fantastic–right on the equivalent of the Champs Elyssees in Paris or the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
We waited about an hour for our room to be ready on the rooftop bar with a glass of champagne and some Iberian sunshine. It was just want the doctor ordered. The house champagne is Ruinart Blanc de blanc–not a shabby start to say the least. Our room was ready just before noon which made me a very happy girl!
Next on the agenda was lunch and then a nap. A colleague of mine recommended the seaside restaurant, Can Majo. Oh man–what great Paella! It made me think I have never had proper paella….such a rich, flavorful spice in the rice with while shellfish–shrimp, baby lobster, with clams and mussels…what a delight! Our waiter suggested a local white using the same grapes as they use for Cava. The Blanc Flor had just the right amount of crispness and fruit to accompany the flavorful sauce and the light shellfish. We enjoyed the local Catalan sparkling water, which had undertones of the salty sea–quite refhreshing and appropriate for a sea-side restaurant.
After lunch, we took a walk along the seaside promende towards the giant goldfish by Frank Gehry. The fish sits atop the Hotel Arts at Port Olympic. The sculpture was created for the 1992 Olympics. The path was filled with families, girls in bikinis, cyclists, and tourists gazing at the bright blue Med. A bit farther down, we came to the FIBA Fanfest for the World Cup Basketball Tournament coming to a completion this weekend.
The promenade was also full of Catalans dressed in their red or yellow shirts for the Fiesta Nacional de Catalunya–the commemoration of Spain’s conquering of the region three hundred years ago and a call for Catalonia’s independence. An enormous V of people were planned–one wearing red and one wearing yellow. The V symbolizes Vote, Victory and Will (in Catalan the word begins with a “v”). We found ourselves in the middle of parade after parade with cheering, drums, and songs in a sea of red and yellow–Catalan flags waiving amidst empassioned clapping and cheering. What a treat to witness this historic demonstration!
After a couple hours of much-needed napping at the hotel, we dressed for dinner and spoke with the concierge to get recommendations for a good, nearby restaurant for dinner. The concierge suggested Botafumeiro, a large eclectic restaurant offering some of the most amazing seafood platters I have ever witnessed. Our dining area was in the library–our table right next to the bookshelves giving me an instant connection–I do love books!
The Man started with a lovely bowl of gazpacho and I had a veal tripe and chorizo stew which was delicious (although a little foreign with the honeycomb shape of the rumen…although tasty, I fed most of those to The Man whose Serbian tastebuds swoons over organs). Somehow, I overlooked the tripe word in the description.
Our respective fish dishes were outstanding! I had charcoal grilled Hake–OMG good…the grilled skin crispy and delicious! The man had a sea bass dish with a wonderful gravy-like sauce and potatoes. Our creamy dessert was a Catalonian specialty–light and rich at the same time. Our after dessert dessert offering from the house had three options of delight–a light cake, a truffle and a chocoalte creation that I could only explain as a wafter thin prailine cooked with bacon…sweet and savory at the same time. What a treat!
It’s midnight by the time we return to the room…our bed at the Majestic was super comfy and were went to sleep in a flash…ready for our next day’s adventure.
Want more of Barcelona? Check out my guest blog at The Travel Agent, Inc. about the Hotel Majestic.
Love FC Barcelona? I shared my experience with The Man at Camp Nou in my guest post FC Barcelona Futbol Fanatic.