And all because I havenÂ´t in like three years. Silly, silly people.
Well, Matt and I are in BarÃ§elona, and I am going to start off by answering the question so many have put to me in the days leading up to our offgoing. “How different will it be for Paulette traveling with Matt than alone?” LetÂ´s see…weÂ´ve gotten lost nearly everyday, walked a bunch (mostly in the wrong direction) and eaten well. So not really all that different, except I have someone else to blame for getting lost, especially since Mr. Sand claims to be able to read maps (and I know I canÂ´t) and he thinks he can navigate by the sun, which is either just showing off, or the effects of the Horatio Hornblower book heÂ´s reading.
Shall we start with the eating? Last night was dinner at a place Hisop, which is near our hotel, does neuvo Catalan cuisine, and was recommended by JTÂ´s friend Terry. Awesome choice. The place was all white with one wall of red cabinets and the white highlighted only by red roses on the walls. The food was outstanding. I had an octopus salad with tomatoes, mizuna, and avocado ice cream, garnished with tomato consume. Matt had a sea cucumber and mushroom salad with blood sausage appetizer. Both fantastic.
Oh, I almost forgot the amuses. First was an oyster, lightly marinated in thyme and lemon, served with mango sorbet and a wasabi pea. Second was tuna belly with a tarragon and reduced balsamic bonbon. Both yum.
Main courses-I had the scallops, lightly seared, with zucchini flowers, a zuchini slaw, and a sauce of pumpkin soup, garnished with pomegranate seeds. Matt had braised veal shank with a red wine reduction and a turnip pudding. I canÂ´t claim a favorite. They were both outstanding.
Yesterday we saw the Gaudi church and the Castillo Battli which was expensive to get into, but incredible. Especially the “courtyard of light” with is in the middle of the seven story building. ItÂ´s made of wavy blue tiles that get darker the higher the floor, but following a progression fo the same pattern. Thent he overlook from each landing into the courtyard has this very wavy glass you look into, giving the impression that you are under water and that the higher you climb, the deeper into the water you go. ItÂ´s the closest thing i can imagine to what it must be like to be a fish!
The church is amazing too, though far, far from finished, even though it was started 125 years ago. The people funding this massive undertaking better hope that BarÃ§elona is not on a fault line!
The day before we walked the Rambla, kind of the big tourist street with a pedestrian way leading toward the Boqueria market. ItÂ´s lined with news stands, and people who paint themselves up in elaborate monochromatic and probably toxic paint to stand on a box and hope people will put money in their buckets. It also seems to be the equivalent of an outdoor pet flea market, with stands selling all manner of birds (from adorable tiny pink finchy things to parrots, pigeons and chickens) as well as rabbits, mice, gerbils, itty bitty little frogs and much larger tortugas with bumpy shells on their backs, and of all things, hedgehogs and chipmunks). It was, well, odd. But the animals were cute.
First night we ate at a Sicilian restaurant near the hotel because the place we wanted to go was full and a lot of things didnÂ´t seem like the right atmosphere. TheyÂ´d been open a week, but the food was delicious and homey. Matt had homemade tagliatelle with ham, peas, and mushrooms. I had linguine frutti di mare. Turns out the owner is from near Messina, where my brther and I will be going with my mother in six months time.
While we were there, some very chic chick sat at the bar and managed to kick one of the wine bottles ont he ledge below used for decor (bad, bad planning) which knocked two more down, for a spray of red wine and glass all over us, a lot of embarrassment on their part, and a topic for conversation to get started with our waiter, who turned out to be Tunisian, though he and the owner spent the night in lively conversation easily switching between Italian, Spanish, and French.
The next night we ate a small restaurant with a loud television, but delicous croquettes and ham and olives and mushrooms and fried herring that were then pickled in olive oil, vinegar, and paprika. One of the waiters dropped a bunch of salt and pepper shakers, so they moved us away from the mess. So you can imagine we were rather relieved that our three hour 5-star dinner last night didnÂ´t result in any broken anything.
Today, I think weÂ´re going closer to the water adn taking a funicular, or some such thing. Kind of depends on whether we can find it. Although we did atleast manage to get a pretty good idea of how to get to the nearest metro station without getting lost.
Talk to you all soon!