Easy Does It: Arrival Day

We had the best weather for our family holiday in Spain and Portugal, and that included the day my parents arrived in Barcelona to meet up with us.  Since my family doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish and to put their minds at ease, we decided to pick them up from the airport.  But first, we checked out of the hotel since we were moving across the street to the apartment we rented for our family.  I’d used the airport bus on my last trip from/to BCN (BCN to Plaça de Catalunya then taxi to hotel), but this time our hotel and apartment on Passeig de Gràcia were just two blocks away from the metro/train station so we decided take the train to the airport.  Because we missed the train we needed to take by a minute or two we were delayed (trains run every 30 minutes), but we found our parents comfortably seated and waiting.  One pair down, one more arrival to go.  Rather than all of us waiting or Kevin and I both making another round trip to the airport, I decided to stay and wait for aunt and uncle’s flight while Kevin took the parents into town.  I spent the next 2+ hours poking around BCN.  Needless to say, I feel like I know every nook and cranny of that airport, having walked around and taken the inter-terminal shuttle buses multiple times in one day.  As for the actual meeting of my aunt and uncle, it went without a hitch.  I made eye contact with my aunt the second she came into view out of customs.  Yay!!!  Big smiles and hugs!

Kevin had checked in at the apartment with Mom and Dad, and was waiting for us at the Majestic lobby.  Apparently the hotel staff even moved our luggage across the street and up into the apartment for us.  Easy, peasy, we were all reunited at our gorgeous and spacious apartment.  It was a really good decision for the six of us to start our trip together in one place and the apartment was great.  No time to linger though, since we all needed to eat.  Out and down the street Kevin and I went for a grocery run at the giant El Corte Ingles basement supermarket.  I love that place…  the amount of time I’ve spent there shopping for anchovy stuffed olives, canned sardines, and wine…  By the way, PW and RK- I have some olives for you ladies!  Food and then a nap for the seniors, and some time for me to figure out what I was going to do with them for the rest of the day.  Goal: tire them out but keep them up until normal bed time!

A SLOW stroll down Passeig de Gràcia, around Plaça de Catalunya, down Las Ramblas, visit to La Boqueria, then around the Cristóbal Colón statue by the water front took three hours.  I needed to walk at less than half my normal speed, which I had to keep in check and required reminders from Kevin.  It was comical trying to keep an eye on the seniors as we walked down La Rambla.  Me leading the way, Kevin in the back making sure we were all together.  The amount of people on La Ramba or even Passeig de Gràcia was crazy.  I forgot my previous visits were in November and in December when there are hardly any tourists in town.  Yick!

We were not too far from a place I didn’t get to try with Paula the last time, a well-known tapas restaurant called Cal Pep.  Since it was about 30 minutes before their opening time I thought it’d be worth giving it a chance, and we got lucky!  There was about a dozen or so people already waiting but when the shutters finally went up, we squeezed inside in single file and were seated at one of the tables in the back room.  It was a reserved table for 21:30 for someone else, but since we were there right when it opened at 19:30 we had plenty of time to enjoy our meal and not be rushed.  Of course all the action was at the counter on the other side of the restaurant but that would have only worked if I’d come alone or with just another person.

The service was quick and efficient, and Pep himself (I learned that Pep is a nickname for Josep) served a few courses to us and came around to check on our drinks.  There was no menu to look over; we ate whatever we were given.  There was the ubiquitous pan y tomate, sardines on toasted baguette, fried padrón peppers, paper thin slices of jamon Iberico, deep fried chipirones (tiny squid), mixed seafood platter of prawns, squid, and sardines, tuna tartar, clams cooked with garlic and chorizo.  I found a couple of dishes a bit too salty, but otherwise the portions were plenty and it was a great introduction to tapas for my family.  One standout for me was Pep’s tortilla española, the likes of which I have never had before and I’m not certain that I will anywhere else.  It was absolutely the best version of the dish I ever tasted, almost like a very soft omelette rather than a pie/quiche consistency I often get.  I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Ferran Adrià agrees Cal Pep’s really is the best.  In any case, Pep was gracious enough to pose for a photo with my family when we were done and we sincerely thanked him for the wonderful experience.  I’d love to return one day and grab one of the twenty stools around the counter to have another meal.

I’m sure the seniors were tired but they rallied to walk all the way back to the apartment.  Besides, the Gothic Quarter looks completely different at night and I think it’s rather fun to see and feel the transformation in that neighborhood.  I took them back there another day during the day and they hardly recognized the same streets as such.  When we got back, everyone was exhausted and ready for bed.  But I couldn’t resist sitting outside for a while…

Casa Batlló at night

View from the apartment: left, Hotel Majestic; right, La Pedrera (Gaudi’s Casa Milà)

View of Passeig de Gràcia at night, towards the water.

Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona: Passeig de Gràcia, 68, Barcelona, Spain

Majestic Residence Apartments: Passeig de Gràcia (71 or 73 across the street from the hotel), Barcelona, Spain

El Cortes Ingles: Plaça de Catalunya and other locations, Barcelona, Spain

Cal Pep: Plaça de les Olles, 8, Barcelona, Spain

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