Even with a cold, old Barcelona is an adventure in realism.

We had a day and a half in this sprawling city, the trade port for much a Spain. But, we were tired from the party, and had yet to have a full authentic Spanish meal

Tapas is Life!

So, we checked in to Ohla! Barcelona (the nicest of our stays — with a hotel concierge and turndown service). Its theme was faces, outside and inside the building, with sleek white, grays and black decorations (I finally felt as if I was back in Europe I found uniquely wonderful) and lots of eyeballs; located in the heart of the Gothic (Art) District. 

Despite the art, the graffiti is no Bansky

John ordered laundry service for his wet pool clothing (from the Mallorca celebrations), and we slipped into our swimsuits to enjoy their rooftop pool and minty mojitos, despite still feeling under the weather; the skies in Barcelona were clear (for the time being). From the infinity pool, we had a lovely view of Ottoman-influenced cupolas, the domed
Cathedral de Barcelona, and the ocean kissed horizon. This area is the old district of Barcelona, and the sculptured sandstone stucco is mesmerizing. Even most of the graffitist respects their heritage; tags mostly found on metal, store-front pull-downs. There is a lot of graffiti, but not like The Art of Bansky, in London, (which now charges a ransom to see), very little of it is artful.

Later, as dinner is always later in Spain, we walked to Restaurant El Cercle, a charming, balconied restaurant with an open-air dining patio. Feeling refreshed after the pool, we ordered a seafood paella. Unfortunately, this was not the House’s best dish. 

something was very, very wrong

Normally, I do not check the credit card receipt when John pays; however, this time, I glanced at it — something was very wrong, after a quick euros conversation in my head, something was very, very wrong. 100 Euros wrong. They had charged us for a magnum of their finest sparkling wine. They would have happily taken our money had we not noticed, but through a little butchered Mexican-Spanish, they righted their mistake.

The weather didn’t hold, either, so, with a sprint through a rainstorm, we headed back to the hotel for a hacking cough-ridden sleep. I finally took a Benadryl in the middle of the night. Zzzz. 

If there is one piece of advice I would give to anyone traveling to faraway cities — bring good walking shoes — I easily hit 10,000 steps every day.

I easily hit 10,000 steps every day

The gothic city of Barcelona is surprisingly spread out. We walked from our hotel to the La Sagrada Família Basilica to the Arc de Triumf to the Cathedral Barcelona and back to the beginning. As much as I wanted to cover more ground, I was exhausted. We took a completely, culturally-acceptable siesta. But, it meant missing some of what Barcelona offers.

La Sagrada Família Basilica

Antoni Gaudi designed the La Sagrada Família Basilica. Gaudi was a turn-of-the-last-century architect, famous for his cubist style. The Vatican recognizes this massive, unfinished cathedral as a minor basilica — recognized for the historic importance of the Gaudi designs, it is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site and much greater than something minor. The cathedral expresses the modernist movement of Spain. This is not a romantic “bigger than man” gothic stronghold. It is instead a celebration of surreal art, an eclectic musing of Christ as a man. Not at all what I was expecting when I arrived. (Although, I had not done my research and my head was too clouded to prepare in advance of the days leading up to visit.)
a celebration of surreal art, an eclectic musing of Christ as a man

In contrast, is the Barcelona Cathedral. The front is a gothic timepiece, with gargoyles and saints, and scrolling adornment. But, it is only the face that is decorated, and has had many facade reforms. The exterior sides are as delightful as a wall of cinderblocks — actually rather surprising, considering all the ornamental architecture everywhere else. This block surrounding the B.C. is the center of the art district. John and I meandered through several galleries. I am very struck by the strong cubist and surrealist nature in Barcelona. We found a Dali souvenir melting clock from the Persistence of Memory. I cannot wait to get home and place it with my other travel collectables. I would have liked to spend more time exploring the Master artist museums, but John was not in the mood for anymore museums, fair-the-well, Kahlo. We agreed I needed more rest.

Kahlo, Dali, Gaudi, Picasso, it is amazing!

While London still has some dreamy old English architecture, modern blocks of buildings have obscured much. Barcelona, conversely, has kept and updated many wonderful influences (at least in the old section and port); it is a lovely city to get lost in, and we had lunch at Picasso's favorite, Els Quetre Gats cafe, by which we literally stumbled upon without knowing it's significance. 

We ended the evening, and essentially our trip, at a local carniceria recommended by our concierge. (I didn’t get the name or address, sorry.) He takes his grandfather there on the regular. Yes! The best! It was early (6pm) and quiet. This time, we asked for the house special. They brought us several tapas and a charcuterie board to share. It was idyllic and perfecto. A perfecto unexpected trip to a foreign land. Salud!
Ohla! has eyes
De Armes


Near El Cercle