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!
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.