I must be on vacation having slept all the way till ten this morning. The continental breakfast was quite good, and there was no shortage of croissant, jamon and smoked salmon. Jamie and I went for a stroll on the boardwalk overlooking the beach, and quickly noticed the Catalonian proclivity for nudity. Unfortunately, this seems to be mostly popular with the elder crowd leaving the sand and waves as the best views. Jamie was utterly disappointed. [Not]
At the other end of the beach, Alan and Michelle are staying at the Ritz Carleton; a fine establishment but lacking some of the style and flair of The W. I’m just kidding. They have a great view from their room and Alan has naturally made friends with the entire staff. He’s already gotten complementary access to Club level and hosted us for snacks and beverages from the 20th floor overlooking the ocean. Not bad for a light lunch…
It was great to finally meet Michelle and we both felt as if we’d already known her for years. It was soon time to explore and we took our time walking over to the Old City of Barcelona. Narrow streets were lined with shops and our first stop was something I’d been looking forward to: El Museo de Picasso. It was incredible to watch the transition from his more traditional early years to the modern work of his later life. I wasn’t sure if Alan was going to enjoy it. Then, in one rather crowded room he found a collection of sketches that drew his attention and exclaimed “Look at that cock!” I almost lost it–classic Alan moment. Fortunately, not too many people here seem to speak in English. Or perhaps they speak it, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as it was in Greece or Israel.
After strolling about the gift shop, we stopped for tapas. More croquettas, this time stuffed with squid and cheese joined by jamon and fried sardines. I wouldn’t have ordered the fried sardines, and apparently Alan didn’t know he was doing that either, but when they arrived they were actually quite delicious.
We set off walking again and bumped into a nice family of four from Atlanta en route to the Museo de Xocolat. Jamie loves chocolate and so does Alan, so off we went. There were some fantastic, almost mind blowing sculptures…even the entry ticket was a chocolate bar. Two museums in one day!
Siesta time was in full effect before our first official evening on the town. Jamie slept better than I did. Masa, the food & bev director of the Ritz gave us a special tour of the property which included a secret banquet room, followed by drinks on the patio of Arola and dinner inside. The cuisine was upscale tapas, and mostly delicious. We ordered everything from chicken wings to foie gras terrine to shrimp with guacamole. The service was incredibly slow, but we believe that to be cultural. The Catalunyas take their time. My father would go crazy here! We also had no way to guess the portions and wound up a little underfed, which worked out fine considering that I’d been gorging myself on fatty meats and sweets for much of the day.
It’s great to have another couple to share the fun with. I have someone to split the foie gras with while Jamie has a sommelier to order her wine, and Michele adds laughter and keeps Alan in check w/ his oversized gratuities. Speaking of which, the custom here is for no tipping here! Love it…
We hopped a cab for the famous tourist trap Las Ramblas, but I was thoroughly disappointed. It was just a bunch of people walking on a busy street without much else unique about it. They did shape their gelato cone like a flower; Jamie loved that. I’m confused…what am I missing? We headed home just before one and noticed that all the live music of the night before in Bacelonetta was gone. Upon further investigation, I discovered that it was the Busker Festival, which runs from 19h to 23h, so tomorrow or Sunday we will have to hit that up early.