Barcelona welcomed me back
For over 4 years, I had the privilege of “having” to go to Barcelona for work every other week. During this time, I spread my time between Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona – something I am incredibly grateful for, and despite tiring, was in fact, incredible. Could you pick 3 better places?
This adventure ended in 2007 (when I traded the 2 Spanish cities for Istanbul just for fun) and I had not returned to Barcelona since. Why? I honestly don’t know. The memories I have from this place are fantastic – fell in love with this place, made amazing friends which I keep to this day and do not get me started on the food.. and shopping!
My birthday was approaching and, with the help of my friend Trudi (my travel partner in crime, together with Mr O and her husband), after a couple of drinks one night, we made a decision – we would go to Barcelona for my birthday (and don’t ask, a lady never tells).
Staying faithful to my motto – if you leave home, it has to be better – there was only one place to stay – the fabulous W Barcelona. Flights booked with British Airways (of course, is there another way?), and we were ready to go!
With a few weeks to spare, a little preparation was required – should I try new places.. or should I go back down memory lane? It must be my age – I decided to go with the latter.
Dinner at Tragaluz was a staple, and I couldn’t not go back. Some changes took place (for the better), but the place remained trendy and the food, creative and delicious. It would be wrong not to try one of my favourite local wines - Priorat is very close to Barcelona and home to one of my favourite winemaking regions in the world.
We checked-in at the hotel (quite late, but of course not a problem for a hotel whose concierge service it’s called “Whatever Whenever”) and boy, were we surprised!
Cool as any W, the Barcelona property isn’t black.. it is red. Fiery like the Spanish, yet warm and inviting. It would be the understatement of the year to say that our room was comfortable. A cool corner suite (thank you!), and views to die for. It was dark.. but we still found the mini bar. Is this the real thing of what?
Nonethess, no rest for the wicked and time to check out Eclipse, the cool roof top bar. Want stunning views and like cocktails? This is the place to come.
A little light-headed (those watermelon martinis were delicious), what better way to get rid of any pain other than a brisk walk? I took Mr. O and friends to one of my favourite places in Barcelona. Yes it is touristy, but there is something special about it -we started our (late) morning at the Boqueria or St. Josep market.
The rest of the morning was spent shopping (where to start.. humm… Portal de L’Angel, followed by Passeig de Grácia) and all of a sudden, it was time for lunch!
Barcelona equals fish and seafood to me.. so we had to go to Agua not far from the Olympic port, where we toasted the birthday girl with some nice Cava.
We needed to burn some calories, so decided to walk by the seafront towards the hotel. My friends, aka the tourists couldn’t resist taking photo after photo of this new landmark.
We then spent a lazy afternoon at the hotel – so many things to do, and it would be a shame not to enjoy the views from as many windows as possible!
Dinner took place at La Barceloneta, which was a short walk from the hotel. Give me gambas, ibérico and a good glass of wine and I’m a happy girl.
Throw in a tasty dessert and you pretty much have me. Who said life isn’t easy and simple?
The evening ended with yet another delicious cocktail, this time at the W Bar over a competitive game of knots and crosses. Who knew how addictive this could be?
Sunday in Spain means no shopping, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We started the day with this view.. I was a year older after all, and with age comes the appreciation of small things… orange juice (which, like gin & tonics always taste better in Spain).. and the beach.
I have actually never been to the beach in Barcelona, but *could* be persuaded to come back and try the new beach club the W is opening once the summer season starts… this could be the ideal weekend break!
Time for (yet) another meal and meet some very special local friends. You know you have something special going on when despite not seeing them for 5 years, you hug and it is as if you were never gone. The difference is that now they are both mothers – and I have Mr. O amazing or what?
And what was the last meal? Paella, arroz negro and fideuá at el Merendero de la Mari at Palau de Mar. I can’t choose one, so had to persuade everyone to order the 3.
Good things come to an end, as they say, and it was time to go. But I may be back before the year ends.. who knows?
Like my friends, I felt that Barcelona never forgot me and certainly made me feel welcome. So welcome, I could stay forever.
Gracies for the best birthday ever!