Saturday, August 23, 2014

Knoxville to Barcelona: The First 27 Hours

Cheese board listings at Vertu Vino
Hello, Buenos Noches, Amigos y Familia.

You got it! We are here in Barcelona and loving it so far.

As a downturn to the festivistities, it was the third anniversary of my mom's passing, but things I could say are (1) we remembered her (Paul's remembrance was "every time I ever saw her, she was so nice to me." ) and (2) we know she would have been happy that we got to go on this journey. One year ago we were remembering her on Angle Tarn in the north of England, so I think she would be pleased.

Item #1. Knoxville to Atlanta. Flight delay, but that's par.  :)

Paul prepares for flight by utilizing his mobile device and drinking diet Coke.
Fortunately, the flight we were going to get on in Atlanta was delayed also, so we ended up getting there in plenty of time...and finding out that we got a first class upgrade all the way across the Atlantic. WOO HOO. Since I was on call Wednesday and up all night, it was great to have a seat that fully reclined. I think we both enjoyed a great nap and getting waited on hand and foot. We also watched a movie called BEARS which, surprisingly enough, was about BEARS. But mostly, we visited the sandman.

On arrival, customs and baggage was a breeze at the Barcelona Airport...although they could have used a breeze inside it, since it appears to be climate controlled from the external temperature only. HINT: Dress according to the outside weather.  We made our way via taxi to the TRYP hotel. Taxi minimum charge from the airport BTW=20 Euros. This hotel is very conveniently located near the airport and is very nice. We got it on Travelocity for $103.00, so  a  veritable bargain at Barcelona prices for a hotel. I wouldn't recommend it, however, as a point for exploring the city. It's a little too far away and there are no sidewalks next to the big freeway to get you into town by foot. But as far as a place to rest your weary, bleary eyeballs at a reasonable tariff--Make a trip to TRYP. The inside atrium looks very Orwellian...
Sort of like a beehive or a prison, but the rooms are well appointed and comfy.

Of course, the fact that we just got 5 hours sleep on the jet on the way in no way affected our commitment to sleep some more. Very refreshing.
Then we got up and went into the Sants area of Barcelona. Paul had picked out a very nice restaurant named Petit Pau (wonder why Petit Paul did that?). They don't take reservations but...they were full, so we wandered the streets until we found a place called Vertu Vino. (Wonder why Petit Paul did that?) Paul could see the wine selection from the door! It was a very small neighborhood place with about 12 tables.
Tiny but mighty

From this point, we enjoyed a fine repast consisting of 4 5 hours, but who is counting? :) They were delicious and we sampled 2 wines and a cava. All were really great.

Great beginnings. Water with and without gas.

They started us with a really simple dish or bread rubbed with tomato and garlic.

Senor Paul went NUTS for this really lovely Rioja blend.
The tomato on the bread gave it just the right flavor. Then we progressed to the fried yucca. I am used to getting this in Puerto Rico and all over Central America, but it was unexpected in Spain. They dressed it with salt and chives which really enhanced the flavors.

The cheese list was amazingly long...many more cheeses than tables in the restaurant, that's for sure! We let the waitress choose and she delivered manchego (much more light, supple and tasty that at home), a Dutch pesto Gouda (very good-ah!) and something semisoft that we never figured out (but it didn't keep us from eating every bite!):
If you ever get a chance to eat pesto gouda, go for it!

About this time, Senor Parris decided another wine sample was in order:
This one was less complex, but much smoother.
Then the highlight of the tapas menu: CAMARONES. These were beautifully served, very fresh and had flecks of tasty seaweed on them. YUM!
Hello. The prawns are staring at us. Oh well.
Tapas dining in Barcelona is NOT a quick affair, but we certainly enjoyed our protracted meal at what my husband calls "a civilized hour." We finished about 1 am with an apple tart tatin and a glass of cava.
Nightcap...I went and put mine on after this meal!
The end result: A satisfied customer!

Paul's Ponderings:   Great night out in Barcelona and thank you Delta for a complementary upgrade to business class, which helped a lot on the way over.   The first red wine at the tapas place was pretty stunning.   The second one was nice as well of course :-)   This is a great town and in my experience pretty different from other areas of Spain.   The prawns were the best part of the meal in the evening.    We sat around for several hours during a downpour outside and had a long drawn out social/dining experience.   Bueno!   A great way to start the vacation in Catalonia.    

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