Daily Archives: February 26, 2015

Travel to Barcelona

The hotel informed us that we could catch a boat to the airport at vaporetto dock Orto. That was good news, because our own calculations had us taking a vaporetto from Orto to the train station, then walking to the bus terminal, and catching a 35 minute bus to the airport. The direct vaporetto cost more (16 Euro each) but it was worth it to cross the lagoon. We were told it was a 40 minute boat ride. The reality was it was a 20 minute boat ride and a 20 minute walk with bags to the airport terminal. Luckily the weather was cool and comfortable.

This was not the same airport my father had handed me a glass of vodka in while I was hung over some 25 years ago. It was sleek and modern and didn’t smell of vodka. 

We had an uneventful flight to Barcelona and were met by our prearranged driver upon arrival. She took us to La Rambla and dropped us off were we instantly got lost in the twisting passageways of the Barri Gothic looking for our Airbnb. We called our contact and he came to find us and brought us to our amazingly located and quaint (if not slightly sewer smelling) apartment in Barcelona. We had preordered the kitchen stocked with some stables (a mistake since there was a grocery a block away). It was clean and cute and looked like it was furnished (because it was) from a single trip to IKEA. 

We settled in and headed down La Rambla to get a feel for the city. It was already late afternoon. Our first stop was at Mercat de la Boqueria where I was overwhelmed by the jamon and the meat, seafood, fruit, juice, vegetable, and savory stalls around the market. It puts our own Pike Place Market to shame.


From there we continued down the Ramblas to a tapas place recommened by our Airbnb host Agus. It was a little expensive, but the food – my first taste of authentic Catalan – was amazing!

An ode to Barcelona’s patron saint: St. George

Even the trees along La Ramba are naturally decorative

Mossen Cinto de Folgueroles coca bread w/tomato

Cordoban-style aubergine (fried eggplant) w/honey. Amazing!

Fried artichoke

Acorn-fed ham croquettes

It was still a bit early (Spaniards don’t eat until around 9pm. So we continued down La Rambla to Mirador de Colom (a towering column celebrating Columbus’s dubious “discovery” of the New World. Clara found the whole thing politically incorrect and I had to agree. 

We sautered back up the La Rambla through Barri Gothic and into La Ribera to Bar Brutal, another recommendation. It was a natural wine bar (with some wines being undoubtedly the worst wine I ever tasted, while the others were quite good). But the food was fantastic and the atmosphere pure bohemian and eclectic Barcelona.

burrata w/tomato and basil

Grilled cheese w/honey, figs, and lard

Slow cooked pork w/mustard

Categories: Spain | 1 Comment

A Day in Venice

We headed to St Mark’s Square after breaking for lunch post our self guided tour down the Grand Canal. This is the only part of Venice I remember from my previous trip some 25 year prior with my parents, sister, and friend Damon. My parents had turned us loose at around 19 years of age and I think we hit various bars along St Mark’s and were shocked at the bill. I remember my sister meeting a boy who either shimmed up or down the drain spout (or both) of our hotel to come calling on her in the night. I remember being so thirsty from drinking that I grabbed an open soda can near the bedside stand and guzzled the contents only to soon realize a cigarette butt had been put out in it. I can remember visiting the bathroom in the hotel and at the airport the next morning repeatedly as I got sick from over-imbibing. And I can remember my father asking me at the airport if I’d like a nice tall glass of water as I sat green faced against a wall. I thought to myself, my father’s being awfully nice to me considering I went out drinking last night. He returned with a tall glass. I raised it to my mouth and could smell it wasn’t water but vodka. The smell sent me immediately running for the restroom where I got sick again.

So it was great to be seeing St. Mark’s again as a parent with my family. We went into St. Mark’s Basilica and were awe struck at the golden hued mosaics. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in St. Mark’s so I don’t have many images to share. However, I did pay extra to go behind the altar and see the Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece) so felt I was entitled. With 15 large rubies, 300 emeralds, 1500 pearls, and other precious stones (all stolen as plunder in 1204) it was worth a tongue lashing from the guards, but I didn’t get caught.

We then ascended the staircase to the museum so we could see the La Quardriga (Bronze Horses) as well as a view of St. Mark’s Square. Again, pictures were not to be taken except outside. These horses are not the originals (they are inside the musuem and off limits for pictures) which date from 175 BC. 

Strolling past St. Mark’s and the Doge’s palace we passed by the Bridge of Sighs (named that by poet Lord Byron in the 1800s). This bridge connected the Doge’s Palace with the prison across the canal and was the route many a rightfully and wrongfully convicted man would travel to pass their sentence.

From here we wandered back streets and bridges off the beaten path towards our hotel (only getting lost a few times).

On our way back we found a restaurant we wanted to return to later that night for dinner. After a rest and change of clothes we strolled more back streets and stores for last minute gifts. We came across this funny sign and icon denoting a public toilet.

We then enjoyed one of the best meals of our trip at a quaint little hidden away seafood restaurant named Osteria L’Orto Dei Mori. It was a perfect way to end a few perfect days in Venice with far more memories made than my previous trip.

Aperol Spritz

Prawns and Pumpkin w/salad

Gnocchi w/Sordfish in a broccoli and leek sauce

Ravioli stuffed w/smoked riccotta and zuchini

Crepes w/prawns in spinach sauce

Ice cream w/pistachio, caramel sauce w/hazelnuts

Categories: Italy, Venice | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.