Chuck and I love to schedule a short get-away Thanksgiving week.  Barcelona was the choice this year after the wonderful time we had there the last fall.   Our prior trip felt rushed as we tried to cover the city, wine country, and San Sebastian in 10 days.  This time we were going to stay put.  Six wonderful days to explore the city properly.   One friend from LA, Brian, joined us, and another, Vivian, who used to live in Barcelona, was back for the holiday.  We strolled the streets, sat in cafes, visited the museums, snacked and drank wine in the markets, and got a real feel for this enchanting city.

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We stayed at the same hotel as the year prior, The Cotton House, and felt at home immediately.   We visited the Sagrada Famila, Picasso Museum, Casa Batllo, Cathedral of Barcelona,and El Born.  And stopped along the way to eat and drink ,of course.  And in the evening we dined at incredible restaurants.  A perfect trip.

Sightseeing

  • El Born – a moving exhibition and urban archaeological site created to promote reflections on the events that affect communities around the world.  In the subsoil of what used to be the old El Born market the ruins of 50 homes were found where approximately 1000 homes had previously existed in the 1700’s.  The Bourbon authorities had ordered their demolition, and forced the homeowners themselves to level their homes.  This action stemmed from the decision to build a fort from which the city could be controlled shortly after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714.  Between 1691 and 1714 this prosperous Barcelona suffered the horrors of war.  Followed by this project that ruined the lives of many people and eliminated a whole section of the city of which no collective memory remains.
  • Cathedral of Barcelona – this beautiful Gothic church is the seat of the Cardinal-Archbishop of Barcelona.  Standing in the Gothic district, this church is the most important example of Catalan Gothic architecture. The church broke ground in 1298 and fully completed at the beginning of the 20th C.   You must walk the Cloister with it’s central garden, a fountain with 13 geese swimming, and the various side chapels.
  • Sagrada Famila – Pictured above is Gaudi’s masterpiece, and below the models that are being printed in 3D today.  This large Roman Catholic church designed by him in 1883.  Gaudi worked on the temple for 43 years till his death in 1926.  They estimate it will be completed in 2026.  There is no way to describe this structure, you must see it for yourself, and experience it’s magic.

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  • Casa Batllo – One of Gaudi’s masterpieces, this modernist building is located in the center of Barcelona.  This architectural jewel, built between 1904 – 1906,  is now a museum open to the public.  Gaudi replaced the original facade with a new composition of stone and glass, ordered the external walls to be redesigned to give them a wavy shape,  which was then plastered in lime mortar and covered with a mosaic of fragments of colored glass and ceramic discs.   At the top, the roof is in the shape of an animal’s back with large iridescent scales.  The spine which forms the ornamental top is composed of huge spherical pieces of masonry in colors which change as you move along the roof from one end to the other. The house is a dialogue between light and color, full of organic elements and colors and charged with symbolism, a wonderful spectacle in the city which inspires the most sublime sentiments in all those who gaze upon it.

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  • Picasso Museum – houses one of the most extensive collections of artwork by Pablo Picasso.  The genius of the young artist is revealed through the 4.251 works that make up the permanent collection.  It also reveals his deep, intimate, and solid relationship with Barcelona, shaped in his adolescence, youth and continued until his death.

Dining 

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  • ABaC – Av. Tibidabo 1 (www.abacbarcelona.com) confirmed by our second visit, this is my favorite restaurant of all time!  This two-Michelin star restaurant is housed in a 5 star boutique hotel and is just lovely, with beautiful gardens and a calm, elegant atmosphere utilizing lighting and materials to form a feeling of warmth.  Chef Jordi Cruz creates (and this is definitely the right term as his food is art, delicious lovely art) course after course of traditional and creative small bites.  It was such a perfect, romantic evening.  I would return over and over again.
  • Llamber – C/Fusia 5 (www.llamber.com) this was the find of the trip.  Vivian introduced us to this small, cozy restaurant, with a good bar where you can also eat.  The food was so good, and the prices so reasonable (three courses with wine for 16 Euros!), that we returned three times.  A must on your restaurant list.  Did order off the menu a couple of time (still not expensive) and devoured this beef with foie gras below.

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  • Elsa y Fred – Rec Comtal 11 (elsayfres.es) ate at this lovely, friendly and small tapas restaurant on our last visit and had to return.  Was not disappointed.  Great tapas and good wine list.
  • Roca Moo – one-Michelin star restaurant that I would recommend skipping.  Food and services was good, atmosphere was lacking, but it was nowhere near the quality of ABaC.
  • La Pubilla – loved this restaurant last year, but returned and was very disappointed.  Reasonable three course lunch with wine but I would recommend skipping as the quality has slipped.  Food was boring and under-seasoned.  Much better restaurants in this price range.

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