Sunday, September 11, 2011

Barcelona Nights

Yesterday we did a final cleanup of our place in Lescun - Maison Willert - dropped odd the key, piled into the car, and drove back to Barcelona. I rode shotgun for the latter half of the trip, and so got the job of navigating Holly through highway, boulevard, one-ways and back-ways to our hotel near Plaça de Catalunya, just north of the main pedestrian (and tourist) way - La Rambla.

After Mark and Holly returned the car, and a bit of siesta, we headed out on the town. From earlier in his career, Paul knows a woman who lives in Barcelona. She is from just outside the Bronx - born and raised from Sicilian heritage. She met and fell in love with a Colombian in NYC, who is an expert in traditional Iberian music and instruments. They have lived in Barcelona for five years now, and their daughter is becoming trilingual: American English from her mother, South American Spanish from her father, and Catalàn from everything around her. These were our amazing hosts and tour guides for the night.

Because it was early by Spanish standards (7:00), we met for a brief drink of Grazinados (iced lemonade) in a square in the town-within-a-town of Gracia.

After a quick drink and some wandering, we came to a tapas bar for a small bite (pintxero) and a round of Basque cider. This cider is fermented, but not too heavily alcoholic or carbonated, and has a nice bite at the end like ginger beer. Here is a sampling of what we had to eat:

The roasted octopus didn't make it into the picture.

After tapas we did some more wandering until, at 9:00, it was almost a decent hour for a Spanish dinner. We went to a Navarran restaurant well known to our hosts, and essentially requested a tasting menu of the chef. What followed was round after round of small platters of all manner of delicious food: the Spanish variant of bruschetta, white asparagus, seafood chowder, egg tortilla with potato and peppers, lettuce wedges with pan-fried garlic and vinegar, meats in a wide array, and wine, endless wine! We toped it off with a liqueur of berries and anise, espresso, and a few luscious desserts. When we arrived we were the only ones there (naturally), when we left around midnight the place was packed with locals enjoying themselves.

As we stumbled away, we passed through a neighborhood street festival and dance party. Paul danced with our hosts' daughter, and it made me miss B terribly. They walked us back to the Metro with many heartfelt partings and thanks, and we made our way back to the hotel, exhausted and full to the brim with enjoyment!

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