|Barcelona – Day 1
I had booked a day tour that picked us up at the hotel at 9:00. Along with 10 other people off we went to see the highlights of Barcelona and Montserrat. Some of the highlights of the tour were:
• La Sagrada Familia – we had a few minutes, off the bus, to walk around this amazing place. It just wetted my appetite for tomorrow.
• Park Guell – The park contains amazing stone structures, stunning tiling and fascinating buildings. At the top of the park there is a great view of Barcelona.
• The Block of Discord - three houses occupy most of this block, Casa Amatller and Casa Batllo (both built in the early 1900's) and across the street was La Pedera (built between 1906 and 1912)all were built by Gaudi. He was well ahead of his time with modern art, the railings on La Pedera were old railway ties. He believed in recycling long before its time.
• Montserrat – The Basilica, views, rock formations (and of course the standard gift shops)
This was something I had really, really looked forward to….far from being food snobs, Ray and I like to consider ourselves food connoisseurs. If it looks like food, acts like food, and/or smells like food – we’re in. We love to sample new dishes, explore new flavours, and try new cuisine.
Before we left on the trip, I had printed from Google maps detailed walking instructions that would take us directly from our hotel, straight to the meeting place for the tapa tour…however…as anyone who knows me knows…I am somewhat directionally challenged and after not being able to find Las Ramblas last night, this could be an interesting walk.. . We bravely set forth to meet up with our tour, and began walking…not to worry we got there with time to spare only to find the meeting place was one of the Guadi buildings we had been at earlier in the day which only gave us more time to admire the building.
We met Zoltan, our guide, at 7pm and it was simply amazing from start to finish. We walked 10 minutes to the first stop (Vermuts Vins Platets) and began with an intro to vermouth, followed by 5 tapas (artichokes; snails; chick peas with tripe; sausage; last item?). Granted these were tapas size dishes but most of us were practically almost full by the time we exited this 1st stop.
It was good to learn Zoltan is a sommelier so he was exceptionally capable of describing the various details for wine and food to us. While at this 1st neighborhood bar at 7:30 pm it was empty as staff was preparing for the onslaught to come.
Another quick 10 min walk later and a bit of description of the neighbourhood we arrived at our 2nd stop (Val D 'Ouro): after 2 bottles of Albariño and Tomato toast, Galician octopus grilled and served over potatoes, scallop on the shell, deep fried squid, mussels, shrimps. Yes, count them: 6 dishes that were much bigger than tapas size. By this time the tour could end and we could've all been totally satisfied and satiated.
BUT onward we march on this glutinous tour. You get the idea by this time one needs to pace oneself. Difficult to do with good food and fine company in front of you.
Our last place was La Taverna de Clinic. Whereas the previous two spots were neighbourhood joints this was definitely an upscale restaurant.
Altogether there were at least 7 different dishes coupled with the local Priorat wine.
Some of the food we had included Cherry gazpacho with clams thereafter and then Morel with white truffles and duck liver sauce.
Overall, we just couldn't believe that our fee included this fantastic upscale restaurant! What a bargain. Throughout Zoltan was informative and charming.
By the end of the evening we were just sorry to have to say goodbye to this wonderful experience.
The next day the company e-mailed us a list of different restaurants they suggested depending on the time of food/drink you might want to have. We tried a local tapas bar and it was fantastic.