Normally I would never get on a bike and ride down the city's most congested boulevard. Inhaling toxic fumes isn't my bag and neither is getting run over. But the Diagonal has one of the few bike paths in Barcelona that is separate from the road. So when the streets empty in August, on a Sunday when traffic is nearly nil, I ride 3 kilometers down the Diagonal to Enric Granados, turn toward the sea and keep going another kilometer til I reach the mojito ice cream at Delacrem #15-17 or fresh squeezed juice and a gander at the art gallery at Cosmo Cafe #3. Not bad, eh?
OB, here are some of the things I hope we'll be able to find when we get back home. The Ferrer salsa brava sauce to our on thick cut fries -- tada! El Quexigal makes a whole line of honey including rosemary and eucalyptus, but I like the azahar (orange blossom). Merula olive oil. Alejandro chorizo Troncal (comes whole, uncut too). Can Bach's tapenade made from green olives. Torres potato chips! And anything from Xocoa. Although especially fond of their oranges dipped in chocolate, yummy. Of course, there will be more requests for our friends at Provista. And the Jabugo -- update after the pilgrimage.
Spit, Slap, Jacks, Gin, a pack of cards and a good friend. Three bars with great views of the city. They are no secret and you'll have to share them with a bunch o' tourists, but Olivia and I have spent many good times purring over these spots. Knowing that we live here and everyone else is just visiting. Shuffle, deal, gaze, and play!
Miramar restaurant bar across the garden from Montjuic's Miramar hotel, next to the air tram ticket office. Overlooks the harbor. Laie Terrace Bar at the Museum of Catalan Art. Sits above the Magic Fountain, where I see the north of the city on to the mountains, and Mirablau at the end of the Tibidabo street car track and base of the funicular. Faces the heart of the city and toward the sea in the distance.
A weekend plane hop, San Sebastian's tapas scene. So satisfying, there is very little bad food and it is hard to make a mistake. Adventure the streets of old town and pick what looks or smells good. For me, top of the list -- Astelena 1960. Not just for the yummy, yummy, yummy food. It's also a restaurant where the waiters love the dishes so much that they join in and eat the ordering mix ups. And yell at each other like a New York deli, but protect each of their own customers like their kids. At this bar, everything on the counter is raw, point at it, ask what's inside, order it and only then it goes to the kitchen, coming to the table fresh made.
Save this trip as a reward for when you speak enough Spanish to know all your food words. Especially since many to the best pintxos are up on the chalk board and not out on the counter. So, you, the food critic, here's a short list to get you started...but go, go, go, don't let it stop you from trying more! In the old town, east to west: Zeruko, Astelena, La Cepa, Martinez, La Cuchara De San Telmo, Gambara, Gandarias, Alfuego Nero.
I dare you to try to walk though the town of Hondarribia without taking at least 100 pictures. Gobsmacking cute, the last coastal town in Basque Spain before the French frontier. Alpine chalets, replete with geraniums (of course!) landed in Ireland and moved to Spain. Cross the river and head up the hill to Chateaux Abbadia Hendaye then walk the footpaths through the green fields that merge with the Atlantic.
By Maia Pay Ozguc
Barcelona Impressions. Be curious. Be present. Be Barcelona!