Barcelona (and beyond) - Part 2

Tuesday, August 31

Picked up at 9 (needed the wake-up call!). Today was a lot of walking, as we did the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter, some of the Olympic venues, and the Picasso Museum. Barcelona dates from Roman times, but the Old Town is "only" from the 1300s.  Many very old buildings and streets still being used today. It was very good at the Picasso Museum as Carlos explained a lot about many of the paintings.

For lunch, we had tapas on the Ramblas!  Little steaks with peppers, wonderful tuna with red peppers, anchovies, shrimp, cerveza.  We also went to the big Central market.

We saw baby pigs, lots of kinds of fish and (ewwww!) skinned calf heads with huge eyes still poking out!!  Beef heart, tripe, and tongue.

Then we walked up and down the Ramplas checking out the stores, foliage, and people.

Then, to dinner (aarrgghh! More food!) Boatafumeira - supposed to be the best seafood place in the city. Some folks had these huge mixed fish platters (like we had in Costa Rica), but we maintained our sensibility and ordered normal quantities.  Gazpacho (of course), then fish, and a plate of peppers. We ordered dessert, and then they brought cookies!  It was good but not great.
Bed time.......

Wednesday, September 1
A day trip to Girona!
This town is about 100km northeast of Barcelona. It's a little town with Jewish synagogues from 1100 - 1492. It reminded us of Florence (e.g., the river and the bridges). By the way: Barcelona at times looks like Florence, Paris, Venice, etc.  In other words, that "European" look.

We told Carlos we were Jewish and wanted to see the Jewish areas, and they took us there but it seemed they were not really comfortable talking about that period of their history.

Then on to Figueres where both Carlos and Salvador Dali were born. it is the "Year of Dali", as he was born in 1904, so the Dali Museum has been a big attraction.

Luckily, we were there mid-week and after the August holiday period, so the lines were very short (and with a guide you go straight in). Carlos told us a lot of fascinating stuff about Dali. Once again we had tapas outside, but as this was not Barcelona, the quality was not as good.  We finally had paella (which you are supposed to have at lunch, not dinner, since it is so heavy), but we found out later it was the frozen kind!!! (Because the real thing takes 20 - 45 minutes). We also had tomato-anchovy toast, and asparagus and ham (the fatty kind). Sure am missing salads! Then we drove back to Barcelona. And it was good bye to Carlos (sniff, sniff).

So for dinner we were going to L'Isidre (we think it was named for Saint Isidre). Supposed to be a verrry good place, frequented by the likes of Woody Allen. So you would think that every cabbie would know where it is. Wrongo!! (Fun fact: Barcelona has the most taxis per capita of any city in Europe and the 2nd most motor scooters - Rome is first). So we get in the taxi and show the guy the address for the restaurant (which the concierge had written on the back of the hotel's address card), and he pulls out his map of Barcelona..uh oh...   he drives for a while and keeps looking at the map and then we discover he speaks NO English (or maybe he's just playing dumb). He finally pulls over and makes a sign like "it's over that way", so we get out and he zooms off and we walk "that way" and are in an area full of people and little streets just like in Venice.  Soon we realize the restaurant is NOT there, and he just dumped us! So we go into a farmacia and ask for directions. They didn't really speak English, but a cute old lady draws us a map! yes...we're here on this street and this street over there is parallel and we should walk to here and the restaurant is on that street there. Easy enough!  Muchas gracias! We walk out and turn the corner and find ourselves back on the Ramblas! We walk a little and don't see the restaurant so we go into another farmacia and ask and they say "You have to take the Metro. It's too far to walk (huh??), but it is after 9:00 so it's not safe to take the metro (!), so you should take a taxi"!!! So we find a taxi and get in and ask the guy if he knows where the restaurant is and he looks at HIS map and says "There's no such street"! So we get out and go into the next taxi and I show him the card with the address and ask if he knows where it is and he says "Si, si", and he starts driving and all of a sudden I realize he's heading back to the Ritz!  He looked at the wrong side of the card!!!!! So I tell him to stop and show him the other side of the card and he says "Si, si" and he turns around and starts driving. We come to a red light and I notice that the name of the street is "Para Lel"!  D'oh!!!!! FINALLY we get there and it was really worth the trip (even though Woody was not there).  First - guess what? - Gazpacho. Then little fried fish, steak, fish, and sweets. Yum!  Best dinner award!!!

And now, time to say adios to Barcelona.  What a fantastic city.

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