Friday, September 16, 2011

Barcelona - Sagrada Familia... the Master of Gaudi!

This is the symbol of Barcelona, The Sagrada Familia Has been under construction since 1882.  Gaudi took over the project in 1883 and devoted his last years to this project, putting all his money into it, and in fact, died penniless. He knew he would never see it completed and asked that only money from the people, not the government, be used to finish it.  they estimate the completion by 2026 and will have a total of 18 towers: 12 dedicated to the appostoles, 4 to the evangalists, one to Jesus and one to Mary.

Serpent with an apple in its mouth

The Passion facade of the church

Magic square... why?... add them up in any direction and you'll see

Beautiful glasswork inside

More amazing stained glass work... Gaudi was a devoted Catholic and a nature lover, so he wanted lots of light to penetrate the church.

This is for my son (Matthew) Mateu in Latin

Inside... amazing the amount of light in this place! gorgeous

The Nativity Facade... this is my favorite... soo intricate

Jesus family tree


Day 1
After spending 3 marvelous days in Barcelona, and getting my fill out Gaudi in all his splendor (the man was a Genius)…I took a very early Train into Madrid…

Arrived at Atocha train station, and was amazed at how enormous it is!...I was a bit lost…I thought…”OK… now where to I go from here” !... But as always, when in doubt, follow the crowd, right?
That’s what I did and amazingly it turned out ok…I found the Metro station and a few minutes later I got to my Hotel (the Eden Paraiso Neptuno) in Puerta del Sol…(the Center of Madrid).
I have to say, the initial reaction was WoW!...Madrid is beautiful!... Even in Puerta del Sol, where I’d known that it was a very touristy area, and thus thinking, it would be very random, it wasn’t… The buildings were fascinating as the architecture of old style ambiance with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people… I am glad I chose this area to stay… I love being in the Middle of it all!

As it turns out, I was lucky to get upgraded to a room with a balcony overlooking the street and Puerta Del Sol…which I loved! (I had booked a single room) so this upgrade was amazing (for 60 Euros a night, it can’t be beat!) The service of the hotel was very good, as was the cleanliness…all excellent for the price.

So, after my check-in…it was lunch time, and I go hunting for my 1st foodie place on my list: Casa Lucas, in the Cava Baja.  I’ve read about this place, so I know it’s going to be good.  I walk about 10 minutes or so, and find the place. It was pretty empty, maybe being a Monday and all, but all the better for me, because that means personalized service, right?
I had known for months what I wanted to order: The Creamy Rice with boletus, foie gras and a poached egg. It was sooo tasty, amazing and the foie gras really hit the spot.  It cost 20 euros, plus I had a cana (small beer)…Total: 21.50… The owner was very nice, talkative and we had great conversation, recommended some other spots to eat, very nice.  He wouldn’t even take my tip… I highly recommend this place.  

From here I kinda roam around the city, with my feet in pain, but who cares, I’m in Madrid!!
By this time, late afternoon… I hit some shopping in Puerta del Sol... And slowly make my way to my hotel room, and get ready for the night: Reservations @ Las Tablas Flamenco!
(Bought tickets through at ½ price… perfect!)

Before leaving, I stop at “Casa Labra”… I’d read they specialize in Bacalao… and buy 3 Croquetas de bacalao (.80 a piece) and a Cana (1.50)… they were very creamy inside, crunchy outside and the Cana in the hot afternoon was perfect… Not much Bacalao in the croquetas, but at the price, very good.

I take the Metro to Plaza Espana, and have no idea which way to go… even with my map!... See, I have this inability to be able to tell which way is North… so, the map is kinda useless!
But I put on a smile, (that always works! ) and ask the 1st person that “looks” like a local… ha ha that means, anyone without a map in their hands J
They tell me under the bridge, 1 block more(which ended up being incorrect) and I walked needlessly for ever… eventually, someone told me it was “under the bridge” to the right… up some stairs! When I finally found the place, the server tells me that they have many people getting lost… great, at least I’m not the only one! … I was worried, because there was no one there… and thought how boring would it be if the show is “just for me”… ha ha … eventually, the place fill up and the show started.

Las Tablas was good, not great, (this is just my opinion)…. I had ordered a glass of Sangria for 3 Euros, so the price was right… but the few items on the menu seemed overpriced. Now, the Male Dancer they had that night… was absolutely amazing! Very passionate about what he does… he stole the show, for sure!

After that, went back to Puerta del Sol, and decided to try Chocolateria Gines!! I had the 6 churros with the Hot chocolate (a thick dark chocolate that is so thick, you can eat it with a spoon)… it was amazing, and they guy was nice enough to give me the fresh churros that had just come out of the fryer… perfect end to day 1!

Day 2

Had bought tickets to Toledo, so got up early, and had café con leche and a pastry at a random bar in Puerta del Sol for about 3 Euros… very delicious café (strong but not burnt or bitter) and the pastry was very good.
In Toledo, I had some time to shop, but a nice “abanico”… very unique and pretty for 22 euros, of course some “Delicias” (marzipan) from Santo Tome… and a cute little bag, and a few other things.
This was a “take it easy” day, so, I just went to the Cathedral and spend about an hour there.  It’s very large and beautiful… they have the cape of Juan Pablo Segundo (I loved him!)… Very nice.
Both of my choices for restaurants (Alfileritos24 and Madre Tierra) were closed. So I had to settle for a random place…
Early afternoon, took the train back to Madrid, when to my hotel, and got ready for the night: I had reservations for the Tapas & Wine tour “Walks of Spain”.
This was money very well spend. Andres was amazing, tried some very very good Iberico de bellota, other yummy things, and an amazing array of Spanish wines… some more than 10 yrs old! Very good for the price 59 Euros… all food and wine included. I highly recommend his tour. Everyone in our tour was very happy with him.

Day 3:

Sadly, today is my last day, as I leave at 22:30 hrs on the Tren hotel to Lisbon.
I get a late start… and im very mad at myself for that, but hey… ive been going at it for 6 days non-stop, so I guess I have to rest sometime!
Finish packing my luggages (which now have by Magic duplicated!)… mayyyybeee it was the shopping!... not sure!
Do the checkout without any problems, and today I try La Marroquineria for Breakfast.
I had the Pan de levadura con marzipan inside (which was incredible and delicious) with a café con leche… again about 3 Euros or so.
1st Museum in Order: Reina Sofia… (As I know I can’t do both Sofia & Prado)… I chose Sofia because, well… I’m in love with Picasso! … I confess!  
Of course, there is no way… (really no way) to get a picture of Picasso’s “Guernica”… there is 2 guards standing next to it at all times… In fact there is no pictures or video allowed anywhere in the room 206.
But the nice guard tells me that anywhere else… Pictures without flash are O.K.! Awesome!
I spend a couple of hrs (really deserves more time) admiring the other Picasso’s (those are ok to take pictures) yey! … And Dali! I also liked Miro… which I confess I didn’t know much about…

From here, I go searching for “Juana la Loca” (it’s a restaurant).. ha ha I’m not searching for a crazy person…ha ha! I had a tough time finding it… but I eventually did, and finally had my try at the “runny tortilla”… you all remember that question here on Trip Advisor?... yup.. that was me!
The price was 4 euros a piece, which I thought was too much, but the tortilla was amazing.. I had 2 orders, so I guess I didn’t mind paying the price… which probably means it’s not overpriced, otherwise, I wouldn’t have had 2nd! … Caramelized onions, semi cooked inside… creamy… delicious! …
Revulgo! I have to thank you for this one! … I loved Juana La Loca’s Tortilla!

From here I hit Casa Hernanz (for the famous Espadrillas)… its 4.45 (they open @ 5pm) and there’s already a line? Wow… anyways, amazing prices, super comfy espadrillas… I bought 2 pairs… too bad I barely have room in my luggages (2) otherwise, I’d bought more!

Later I hit Plaza Mayor, sit down outside with my helado… (yes! I finally had one!) lemon flavored, and very refreshing… and realize they have free wifi… so I try to “face-time” (kinda like skype) but for iphones,ipods, etc… my mom!... see answers, and I show to through the camara Plaza Mayor!... isn’t technology amazing! …

Ok, so im exhausted, I go back to Puerta del Sol… and before leaving for the train station… I try to find something quick to buy to take to eat for dinner. (since im afraid I’ll have no time for a real meal)… I go to Museo del Jamon and get one of their 1 euro sandwiches… OMG… my fellow foodies would kill for this!... it was not good!... there was sooo much bread, and like an inch square of ham! Ha ha…

But I think…. There’s much I have to do still in Madrid… So I must come back soon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


OK! here it some time to write my review...I'm not a writer by any means, so please excuse any mistakes and feel free to correct any errors I might make along the way...and ask any questions you may have.

#1: NO PICKPOCKETS!...I'm not saying it doesn't happen (I'm sure it does...but its not like they make it out to least for me) I didn't even feel I needed my money belt. I wore a purse across my chest with a zipper, my money & credit cards and ID were inside in a pocket with another zipper and my hand sat naturally on my purse the whole time...I must have secured it very well, or looked very poor! ha ha because never, ever did I see or experience any attempt of pickpocketing.

#2: Shoes: i guess I'm not used to wearing very flat shoes...because my heals were hurting the whole time...I'm also not used to walking (lets be honest) :)

#3: Food: WOW! most places unbelievable!...the only exception (and I know Gigi's is going to kill me for this! so, I'm sorry i betrayed the "Foodie" code) but on Sunday I couldn't do another step...I skipped Paco Meralgo and I ate a quick early dinner (before going to Casa Batllo Nights) @ Tapa Tapa (which was horrible to say the least, but the service at least was good, with a very nice waiter that kept flirting ;)

#4: Best Sight: well, of course Sagrada Familia!!! I'm not lying when i say that the moment I got inside, I had tears in my eyes! could someone dream sooo big!! it was incredible, beyond belief...I'm not one to wonder for hrs in 1 place, but this deserves much more time that i could give it (I spend about 2 hrs there looking for all the symbolism.

#5: Taxi Drivers & People: soooo Nice!! taxi drivers very honest, kind and did not drive me around...maybe cause i had a map and a smile! People were beyond nice and kind and always willing to help...mad conversation with anyone and everyone I as a solo traveler, BCN is the perfect place!

Day 1:

OK, so I'm here! After many months of planning I can’t believe I’m in BARCELONA!

It took 3 flights-California-Atlanta, Atlanta Paris, Paris-Barcelona.

I flew with Air France on Premium Voyageur class. Which I don’t know if it was what I expected. The seats were much bigger, larger personal area, better service but I guess I was expecting more room between seats next to each other, and the seats did not look new, or did the space. I thought that Premium Voyageur was a fairly new class. Nonetheless, it was light years better than squeezing into those economy seats! Way better and the fact that you have your own separate line at the airport for check-in and even passing through security was a lifesaver. The food from AF was very good, better than other airlines, but still airline food. Premium Voyageur does not get 1st class meals; they are the same as Econ. So that was a bummer. However, the salad with edamame and corn was delish! And the raspberry chocolate cake, as was the champagne of course! They give you an amenity kit just like the one for business class, which you know how cool it is to receive free stuff! So I was in heaven! It included: socks, a sleep mask, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, Clarins moisturizer, and a few other things. Very nice. I haven’t received a kit like that since I flew Aerolinas Argentinas back in the day when they used to come to LAX and I had no wrinkles! That was light years ago!

CDG (Paris) was difficult to navigate, and hard to find help when you need it. Nonetheless, I make my connection with flying colors! (get it…flying) ja ja! OK its like 7:30am… The flight from Paris to Barcelona felt like at any moment, I should start praying! ... it was so turbulent!... and anyone who knows me... can just imagine my face... I went from very pale to green!  I was so excited, not just for Barcelona, but my life! Yey... i made it! wooshh!

So I get to my B&B in the Eixample area…which I love! It’s the BarcelonaBB on Mallorca & Girona.

My room is amazing, which a nice big window overlooking Mallorca, High Ceilings, the whole apartment itself is very nicely decorated, I love to feel like you are taken back in time. This place is like that. The decor very well thought out, super, & I mean super clean throughout. A little patio, seating area, computer area, bathrooms and rooms. It has a bit of an antique feel to it, but with modern conveniences. Kiku the owner is beyond nice….and very charming…

OK, on to my day:

Took aerobus to Placa Catalunya, and a taxi from there to my BB, the taxi was like 7 euros. Pretty good. Very very nice talkative driver. Even pointed out some things. Great 1st impression of BCN people.

Met Kiku and he showed me my room and the house, we did the formalities, I paid, got my keys to the house and after we chatted a bit I was on my way to Gelonch for lunch (my 1st must go restaurant).

I had made reservations with no good!

I got all the way to gelonch, rushing in the heat & horrible humidity may I add, only to find that they are on vacation until the 6Th!! What’s up with that…but…but…I have a reservation..??

Gelonch website does not state they are on Vacation, and neither did, in fact It let me go through with the reservation. Anyways…very very disappointing.

So, tried to find my way to the Metro…which I eventually did. I bought my 10T tickets from the machine (very easy) even for me, 2 day sleep deprived and still going strong! …Kiku mentioned that he truly admired my stamina! Very nice compliment… 

Got off at Ciutadela/Villa Olympica…and did not have a clue where to exit from…anyways…I got to the waterfront, took some pictures and walked off…thinking I would eventually find the touristy area: you know, the one with all the vendors trying to sell you stuff..and a million people fighting for the same spot of land as you…but I Never did!

I kept following the waterfront, thinking I would find the Barceloneta…but I didn’t…and by the waterfront is kinda boring, but nice….boring until I found the nudist Beach" Gigi" mentioned during her trip!

And girls, I mean full on Naked! Even men…100% naked…it was a complete shock to see not only young, but old men letting it all... and I mean all hang out! ja ja.   I could not stop staring at them, I admit…of course, hidden behind my dark shades…! Jaja

By this point, I had walked about 1 ½ miles OMG! Still no lunch... but what a view.   I refused to eat just anywhere…

I found a nice Argentine Lady that lives in BCN that helped me find my way back…I took the bus to get to the Shops in MareMagnum.

Once there (which is also hard, as you are not sure which way to go and at this point, im sooo exhausted every step counts) I find the Botiga Shop and buy some Souvenirs for my son…I got him the big backpack, a nice water bottle (made of aluminum) in BCN team colors very nice for 6 euros…the backpack 36 euros…and bought some other things…but the Jersey was 99 euros…too rich for me!

As I was leaving, I found a little café called something “Sweet” right outside leaving the Maremagnum…I got a nice ice cold cava & a plate of ham croquetas…which where actually, nice and creamy inside, bits of ham…although not much, but they really hit the spot… Not sure if that was a proper Foodie combination, but I loved it. Maybe because it was hot & I was exhausted, but the nice bubbly ice cold cava and the creamy & crunchy croquetas were exactly what I needed. After that I headed to my BB for some relax (what Yesi…relaxing on Vacation???) OK, I actually wanted out of the heat & humidity…I confess.

I got to my BB, Kiku was there, and made me a Very nice, strong coffee…Thanks Kiku, wonderful Host!

I told him about Gelonch…he laughed and said that its typical here that they don’t let you know…

He asked me about dinner…I told him “Quimet & Quimet” He was surprised I knew about it, I said: TA! Baby…Thanks guys!

So….Got cleaned up, fresh, showed…really again to eat!!

Walked to Passaig de Gracia, found a Starbucks to buy my sister the cups she collects but all the Starbucks are out! I head to the metro…get off on Paral Lel and find Quimet really quickly!

Yes!!! Lets get this ON!!!

Quimet was busy, but I managed to squeeze in and found a spot by the bar.

I got a nice dark beer recommended by the bar lady and the 1st montadito is ordered: The Salmon with the yogurt, honey and balsamic…OMG! Delish!! I could have eaten so much…but they are very filling. I also ordered the Red Roasted pepper with Cabrales and a few other goodies on top. Then onto the Cheese plate with homemade jelly think, chestnuts (she gave me extra because I told the bar lady how much I loved them) and I got a little plate of bread to go with the cheeses…which were delicious!!

Oh, and another beer, this time light.

All in all, I paid 16 euros…very very good price…I regret not trying more things, but I was so full!!

Walked back to the metro (feet hurting so much at this point, since I’ve walked at least 4 miles today in flats-and I think I was not meant to wear flats, my feet hurt much more…

Anyways, on my was getting lost as I try to get back to my BB I find a Starbucks about to close, that has the Barcelona café cups (set of 2) You know that size for the expresso, but a bit larger, still not a gigantic cup like the one I was looking for, but they were very cute, they say Barcelona starbucks on it…they were like 8 euros for the set…bingo! I buy them, and scratch of one thing off my list.

Get to the BB, meet the lady staying next door to me, she is also traveling solo! We thought maybe we can sight-see together…I was so tired, we decided to chat at breakfast…but I have a schedule to follow, so not sure if it will work out, but maybe we’ll meet for coffee.

Ok guys, this is the end of day 1 in BCN!

Day 2:

Again, waking up early, during vacation seems to be the common theme, so, as such, I woke up early, had breakfast with the others in my B&B, which by the way is wonderful, and I'm very happy I stayed there. Did I mentioned that already?...sorry, it truly deserves mentioning! Btw, Kiku was a wonderful host!...of course I recommend him and I will most certainly stay there next time in BCN.

I have to confess, just in case something I write, does not come out right, I am writing this on my laptop, on my seat, from my Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles (11hr flight) thank you!...did I mentioned I am petrified of flying, and as I am writing this, I am trying to finish my 2nd (little) bottle of red wine, after some yummy carbs, and champagne, only to see if I can take the edge of my fear!

I honestly think the writing is working better than the alcohol!  but at least I’ll sleep during the rest of the flight! Jaja

Anyways, onto day 2 of BCN!

Went early in the morning to the Boqueria…I’ve been reading and seeing pictures about this place for months, so, to see it, in the flesh, was very cool!

I really didn’t buy much….I did take loads of pictures…specially the fruit stalls, they look amazing in my camera…I tend to like tighter shots (as to not have other things interfere with my main subject)…so the close ups of the fruits (specially the gorgeous figs) look amazing…I cant wait to post them for you guys.

I bought figs: 2 larger sized ones (kind of bluish looking) at least in my pictures), and 2 black figs, which the owner of the fruit stall did tell me the black figs would be much sweeter, and they were!

I wanted to try Pinxo, but I had reservations at Cinc Sentits, and no way was I going to ruin my appetite…I’ve been waiting very long for this… I did try the Xuixo's ...(Yummy pastry with cream inside....but these are special!) ...

As I exited the Boqueria, I managed to buy some very inexpensive Pimenton (smoked-agridulce)…it smelled wonderful, and I regret not buying more, honestly) oh well! … I also bought a paella mix (I know, it’s a foodie no-no) I know you are suppose to do the mix yourself, but this one smelled wonderful, and the prices were beyond cheep, so why not, right?

Took the metro to Cinc Sentits, and as usual for me, got there early (afraid I would be late and miss the reservation)…so I walked around the neighborhood for a bit….went inside a small grocery store…and guess what!....I found my perfume that I have been searching for!....If anyone remembers me asking in the Madrid forum about Anoux perfume!....Well, Happy to report, I found it! …more on that later!

Went back at 13:30pm, and was seated right away, the service was wonderful, and I have to say, the wine sommelier was not pushy at all about the wine paring, or anything, for that matter…I did joke that if I had the wine paring, I would not be able to finish my itinerary!...he laughed!

I did like the shot of maple syrup with the crème anglaise on top …it was less sweet than I thought it would be, which was a good thing, I thought I would be too indulged in the sweet, to later savor the other dishes, but no, it was a perfect balance…

Other dishes followed, and they are as much in order as I remember them…sorry

• 1st course: spiced almonds, green olives stuffed with garlic and little sticks of (mil hojas) that I can’t figure out ( they were tasteless to me) I didn’t see the point…

• Cinc’s take on Pan am Tomaquet- tomato sorbet with bread croutons and garlic foam…I thought It was appropriate for the warm weather, and very tasty.

• The Olive Oil Tasting: so, this one for me was a filler course- the 2nd olive oil, the tasty, more expensive, green one, was very good, and the bread (I chose the olive bread, appropriately so)

• Coca de Foie Gras: this was my favorite dish! …the top of the Foie was crispy and caramelized, and the sauce was wonderful…the foie was creamy inside…just what I wanted, and the main reason I chose Cinc…was to try this dish.

• Caramelized scallop with artichoke pure: This dish was an eye opener for me, because I ALWAYS leave the inside of the scallop, because its not really cooked all the way, to me, it always tasted funny, (as in not good) but im glad I always give food another chance, because this dish made me a believer…it was wonderful, even the middle (which is my least favorite park)…I loved…and well, the artichoke pure, how can you go wrong with that…wonderful dish…finished with a crispy Jamon Iberico de Bellota on the side.

• The following dish was some sort of salmon, but it did not look pink at all, although I know that there are salmons, not necessarily pink…but it was pretty forgetful dish…

• Caramelized pork: very tender meat, crispy crust, wonderful dish, totally outshined whatever else was in the dish…port for me tend to be gamy…so it was a wonderful surprise…and when I mean crispy crust…I mean it…soooooooooo good!

• Cheese course: It was good, not great, I mean, they were not cheeses who’s flavors were outrages, or out of this world, but they were good, and the accompaniments for the cheeses were on the spot.

• Pistachio cake, Pistachio paste and raspberry sorbet: very good combination….loved that the pistachio paste, was not too sweet…it tasted very much like in its natural state just better…I never thought the combination would be good…specially not being an icecream fan...but it was tasty.

• The famous Catalan Combo: Bread, olive oil & chocolate: amazing dark chocolate ganache, thin layer of very fruity olive oil, breadcrumbs, tiny bit of salt…decadent and amazing

• They end the meal with a bombon and a few other bits that were good, but forgettable.

Overall impression: very good, although did not like the fact that the olive oil tasting was not part of the “tasting menu” it is charged separately, and squeezed in between courses so you think it part of the menu…other than that, the service very attentive and good… (I had decided against Comerc24 due to the inconsistent reviews).

After a very happy tummy walked a block or so and took the bus back… (always asking for directions, and people very very nice and always willing to help.

Made my way to the Gothic QTR which was amazing…saw the cathedral (hard to find your way in that maze…I wish I would have had more time…because getting lost is part of the fun…but I was on a missing to find……….FORMATGERIA LA SEU!...After some more getting lost, I found it! Katherine was very very nice and talkative (I love to talk as well, so it was a good match)…I told her about Gigi and that she had told me about this place…(Gigi…Katherine says HI!)…sampled some amazing cheeses as we chat.

After a bit, and some great advise from Katherine, I decide on my 1st choice for cheese (I was buying a whole wheel)…I choose the cheese “EL CASCARRAL” and Katherine tells me Gigi chose the same one! What a coincidence! It was my favorite from the start!

Along I went with my cheese… sightseeing some more as I make my way slowly to the metro to go to Tickets & 41 Degrees (I had reservations @ 8pm)

I got off At parallel instead of Liceu…so I walked a lot more than I wanted too!...but I found it, saw the funny guy in the front, and he found my name and I was In!

(FOR THE REVIEW OF TICKETS, PLEASE SEE MY OTHER POST) You can also look at my pictures in my blog

But I will say I had the best time at 41 Degrees, made some new foodie friends and had the best drinks of my life…and the snacks were much more fun than tickets…and very yummy…But don’t get me wrong, Tickets was great…I even got to see Albert Adria right in front of me instructing some of the chefs on a dish…as I watched!

Left 41 Degrees about midnight (we really got into comparing notes with my fellow other foodies sitting next to me) and it was a perfect night.

Got to my BB for some much deserved R&R!

Day 3:
Today I got a late start…I really needed some sleep! Had breakfast at my B&B…and by 10AM walked over (4 blocks) to Sagrada Familia…(bought tickets online) which was great because there was a lot of people buying tickets in the line…

So many tour buses…hard to get a nice picture of the whole church…but I managed…

Went inside and almost cried! It was amazing!... I had the audio tour which really help…but half the time I was in such “awe” of the whole thing, it was hard to focus on the audio! Saw a plaque on the sealing that said “MATIU” my sons name is Matthew, so I thought what a wonderful idea to take a picture and enlarge for his room… the picture was amazing…as were all the other 100’s or so just of SF! Its really important to read up before you go to appreciate all the symbolism…thanks to all whole responded to my question about that!

About 12:45 I decided to go to LA PARADETA, you pay by how much the seafood weights and they only cook it a couple of ways. I had some little sea horse creatures (but I can’t remember the name!), some very nice fish…all very good…but I overestimated how much it all was…as It was more than what I wanted to pay…and definitely more than I could eat! But it was very fresh, quick and yummy!

From there, I walked over to Passaig de Gracia…there was no line at “La Pedrada” so I go and wait in line a few minutes, buy my ticket and go in…

I knew this would not be my favorite house, and it wasn’t. It was amazing, don’t get me wrong…but I was waiting for tonight to see Casa Batllo to compare…nonetheless, the roof was amazing (my favorite part of the house).

Didn’t spend much time there…I did however buy some amazing earrings in the shape of one of the doors (very Gaudi earrings) in silver and turquoise! Awesome! LOVE SHOPPING…Gaudi style…

From there walked about a block and took the #24 to Parc Guell and spend lots of time there exploring. I didn’t know it would be so large! …it was very hot and I don’t think Ive ever drank so much water! But the water, the walking and the humidity is making my skin amazing! So I don’t mind at all! Ha ha

From there…I walk…a few blocks which seems like miles (again, feet hurting) and took the bus back to Placa Catalunya…I walk some more…(Placa Catalunya is not my favorite place so I walk along Passaig de Gracia…waiting for 9pm to go into Casa Batllo…

This is where I decide I just cannot walk another step (and decide against Paco Meralgo) because I had to take the Metro and walk some more blocks and my feel could not bear it! (I could have taken a taxi, but needed more $$...and being Sunday…the banks were closed, so…If I used the ATM and the machine decided to eat my Card…I’d be moneyless…so I ate at TAPA TAPA

Let me just say: Please Don’t …the Pa’am Tomaquet was sooooo bad and the ham croquetas were average at best…but the service was very good, quick and the servers were kind.

Finally almost 9pm, I go across the street to get in line for Batllo Nights, I make friends with 2 Catalan Ladies and we were chatting away…even hang out all evening…they were very nice… (No GummyBears)! Ha Ha! They had a kind of Chex Mix….! Better than GummyBears!

I really loved loved this house! I got to tour it and take pictures with no problems, had 2 glasses of Cava and spend a lovely evening…after that, I took off to my B&B to pack….tomorrow is an early train to Madrid!

Barcelona was beyond incredible! …amazing and I really need to go back to experience some more amazing sights and food!

I will be putting more pictures on my blog tomorrow…

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cinc Sentits, La Paradeta...Barcelona

After much research, I decided that my Michelin star restaurant would be Cinc Sentits...its one of the hottest spots in Barcelona with consistently great reviews, so I gave it a shot.
It was very good, the service was very good, I went for lunch, so it was not as busy as if would have been at dinner time.  This also allowed me to have the rest of the day free to wonder around this beautiful city and not worry about making it on time for dinner.
The best dishes @ Cinc for me was the Scallop with artichoke pure (oh so good), and the chocolate with olive oil, bread crumbs and a touch of salt (amazing).  You couldn't imagine that olive oil would go well with chocolate, but it was a very fruity olive oil and really enhanced all the other flavors...and very decadent end to a meal.
The olive oil tasting is a separate charge than the rest of the tasting menu (but oh well right!) go big or go home!

La Paradeta (by the Sagrada Familia church) that is opened on Sunday, was perfect, fresh seafood that you choose by weight and they offer only a couple of ways to cook each one. Very fresh and tasty. Perfect after sightseeing the SF!

La Paradeta (open on Sunday by the Sagrada Familia) fresh fish & seafood that you pay by weight and there's only a couple of ways to cook it. I ordered Sepia fish (very very good) and this little creatures that (sorry) but for the life of me, can't remember the name. but all was very very good...and i didn't leave feeling bloated...just yummy satisfaction!

@ Cinc Sentits - Cava to start the adventures!

Olives stuffed with garlic (superb), spicy almonds and the middle was so forgettable I can't really remember (but not so good anyways)

Cinc's signature meal starter - A shot of maple syrup with creme anglaise ( I have read mix reviews about this one) but for me if was not overly sweet nor overpowering for the rest of my meals, it was interesting and very good.

Cinc's take on the classic Catalan dish Pa'am tomaquet - Bread croutons with garlic foam and tomato sorbet...small, refreshing and tasty.

Olive oil tasting- this is charged separately, but it was good (specially the darker olive oil) the olive bread also very good, but didn't like the fact that if you are in a restaurant that "only" does tasting menu's, then it should all be included in the price.

"This" is why I came here - coca de foie gras caramelized (very crunchy on top) sweet, delicious...oh-so-good!

Seared Scallop with Jamon Iberico chip and artichoke pure (this dish surprised me, because I don't usually eat the center of the scallop because its semi-raw, but it was incredibly sweet and so delicate...i absolutely loved was a whole new discovery...I just have to eat scallops like this one!

This dish was good, but forgettable, I honestly can't remember what was in it...but don't take me was good...not all dishes can be stars I guess, right?

Cochinillo (pork) with a super, super crispy top (OMG!) this was sooo good...i know I keep saying that, but this one was cooked sous vide for 12hrs!!! then caramelized on top until crispy perfection!

Cheese course...very good with home made accompaniments

Pistachio cake, pistachio paste with raspberry sorbet, fresh raspberries and creme anglaise.

Thick yummy dark dark chocolate, thin layer of fruity olive oil, vanilla iced cream and breadcrumbs...decadent & delicious.

This was the last dish, good but again...can't really remember much of the flavors...but good.

Over all, I would give Cinc 4 of of 5 *...Most dishes were very good to excellent, but didn't like that the olive oil tasting was kind of hidden in between the you think its part of the tasting menu. 

Quimet & Quimet, Barcelona

Quimet is one of the best places I visited in Barcelona. The "montaditos" are amazing, the service superb, its easy to find...and most importantly, its beyond good!
Because they look like small appetizers, you'd think you can manage a lot more...but these really fill you up, so I will just have to go back to this lovely city to try some more creations.
When you arrive, you just tell them what you'd like (some dishes, like the ones I had are sort of a "tradition") but they will make any combination on top of your yummy, crunchy bread...
Here's what I had:

Cheese plate with chestnuts and home made jelly & Bread plate

Outside Quimet

The counter with all the yummy toppings

Montadito of plain yogurt, smoked salmon, honey & balsamic...ohh so good!

Montadito of Cabrales, roasted red bell pepper, balsamic reduction and relish...superb!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


After many months of waiting, I finally got to try the hottest stop in Barcelona, The Adria Bros. new place, TicketsBar & 41 Degrees. 
Tickets was a fun experience, not something you have to put on a gown for and get all dolled up, which was great, because as a tourist, I was walking around under the hot Barcelona sun, but I did manage to look decent, as you'll see in my picture. 
Many people have been turned down or away for not having made reservations 3 months in advance, so I definitely consider myself very lucky. It was a highlight to see Mr. Albert Adria in the house, running back and forth, making sure all was running smoothly in the house, although I didn't get to see Ferran, I went for the amazing "small bites". 
Tickets Menu is more extensive, but changes often, 1 dish I wanted, they didn't have anymore, but everything I tried was an adventure for my taste buds.  41 Degrees was a much more fun experience, maybe it was the fact that I had 2 of those delicious drinks you'll see at the bottom, or that I was lucky to have been seated at the bar (instead of the small tables) by 3 other American "Foodies" just like me. We spent all night there, comparing notes, chatting mostly eating and taking pictures, and ordering after the other ordered the same thing (you know, when someone orders something, then you "have" to try it!) LOL 
It was well worth all the wait and the hype...

Quail eggs with runny center and yummy seasoned breadcrumbs and gray salt

TicketsBar Menu in the form of a story book

Tomato Salad (the best tomatoes I've had...peeled and seeded with a tomato water Gelee, basil oil, and fresh basil..oh soo good!

Albert Adria, right in front of my seat (at the bar) the best seat in the house, very serious, showing the chefs proper technique on a dish
One of the chefs meticulously putting together my salad (which he recommended)and it was very good!
Me at TicketsBar (OK, i look like I've just come from running a marathon, which is probably true...I did sooo much walking!)

The famous "olives" from El Bulli...(you know, they are not real olives, right?)...amazing taste...they explode in your mouth with the best tasting olive juice you've ever had...
Jamon de Toro (the fattiest part of the tuna brushed with the fat of Jamon Iberico...(again, another delicious dish!)
@ 41 Degrees with my newly found foodie friends...had the best time! was great comparing notes!

@41 Degrees-Isn't this the most beautiful drink you've ever seen??...took like 10 minutes to make infused with cocoa beans...and the best (and I mean the best) drink I've ever had! refreshing, not too sweet (I don't like sweet drinks) and an aroma and taste of the cocoa beans...unbelievable!

41 Degrees-The famous "Parmesan Ice Cream Sandwich"...imagine cheese-its crackers ice cream LOL

Blackberry profiteroles with the best plain Greek yogurt...this was my favorite...I wish i would have had another one!

Coconut and Lime Marshmallows (don't even think Marshmallows in that bag you buy, please)...these were spectacular!

Fake "Pistachios"...these look like the real thing...but when you put them in you mouth, they dissolve into a creamy heaven!

Pistachios and Yogurt (the Yogurt is the white chips you see...and the pistachio is enveloped inside the chip...tasted amazing.