Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spain – September, 2016
This was the year of walking part of the camino de Santiago de compostela.  I have wanted to do this for awhile so I planned well and it was wonderful.  I started my trip in Barcelona, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.  Stayed a couple nights at Barcelona BB, very centrally located near a lot of the Gaudi buildings, including la sagrada familia, the construction of which commenced in 1882 with Gaudi getting involved in 1883.  It is something that has to be seen in person as it is impossible to describe. 

My first stop was lunch at Cal Pep, a little tapas place in the old part of town I had remembered being wonderful.  I sat at the counter and had clams and some fried artichokes, which weren’t as fabulous as I remember so I stopped at Taberna de Tapas to have my favorite arugula salad with goat cheese, quince cubes and toasted almonds to make me feel better!  Walked around the old city, into the Cathedral and around the Church of St. Maria, along las ramblas and into the big market and up to the fountains of Catalunya.  Such a wonderful city.  Had dinner at Napa, owned by a cute little gal from Bakersfield!  Little place with very creative small plates.  I had tuna taco with sushi rice and guacamole topped with mango, breast of duck with caramelized shallots and a yummy lava cake served with ice cream.  A good start.

Toast, coffee and fruit, an unimaginative breakfast included at Barcelona BB and then walked to Casa Barllo, Gaudi’s 1904 – 06 renovation of a once-nondescript house.  Today it resembles a sea monster glittering with colorful tiles and is called house of bones.  Walked on down to the Palau de la Musica Catalana, built between 1905 and 1908 and designed by Luis Domenech i Montaner.  The design is typical of Catalan modernism in that curves predominate over straight lines and it is filled with beautiful mosaics, marble staircases, a grand concert hall, etc.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  Had another wonderful arugula salad for lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon at Palau Guell, a Gaudi designed mansion where he got his start.  It is one of my favorite of Gaudi’s designs.  I stopped by to see the progress on la sagrada familia.  Years ago I had taken the lift up to the top for an overview but nowadays there are sooo many people visiting.  Dinner at Acces about a 20 minute walk away was shake fish with red pepper puree, eggplant caviar and roasted shallots and another delicious lava cake with ice cream.  Weather was quite warm even in the evening and the Spanish eat really late.  I made all my dinner reservations for 9 p.m. and that was almost too early…

In the morning I got to the Barcelona Sant train station only to discover that my ticket to San Sebasbian had left at 7:30 a.m. on AUGUST 8 instead of September 8 – I had bought the wrong ticket!!!  Train was full so had to buy another ticket for the 3:30 p.m. train which would arrive at 9:30 p.m.  Took the metro back to Barcelona BB, had a coffee and an orange, left my luggage and went to visit Pedrera (Casa Mila), a unique building designed by Gaudi.  One of the most significant parts is the roof, crowned with skylights and chimneys, all of which are coated with limestone, broken marble and glass.  In the attic is a museum about Gaudi’s life and design ideas which was fascinating as was he.

Took a walk to the Park Miro, had lunch at Palmero, i.e. arugula salad with tomatoes, olives and mozzarella and grilled fish.  Picked up some pastries for the evening and the morning and caught the 3:30 p.m. train to San Sebastian.  I arrived about 9:30 p.m. and took the bus to my airbnb, arriving about 10 p.m.  We talked a few minutes and I asked her if I could leave my roller bag there while I walked the camino (assuming she would say fine) and she said absolutely not!  So, I had to find another place to stay at 10 p.m. at night which would let me leave my luggage.  Luckily, Hotel Parma had a reasonable rate since it was so late and agreed to store my luggage while I was gone.  Took a taxi to hotel and they were veryyy nice!!!  Suggested I go around the corner on 31 agosto to Gandarias for tapas which I did.  Bustling, lively place with great food.  Had a brie/sundried tomato tapa with honey and pistachios, beef and green chili tapa and a shrimp tapa with bacon salsa.  Walked to the train station to see how long it would take me, packed the little pack I would carry on the camino and went to bed about 1:30 a.m….

Caught the 7:30 a.m. bus to Perdrafia Cebreiro to start to camino.

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