Sunday, October 16, 2016

Santiago de Compostela to Barcelona – September, 2016
After spending a couple days in Santiago it was time to move on.  It’s a great old city and I hope to return someday…Caught the 10:06 a.m. train to San Sebastian which arrived at 9:00 p.m.  I had plenty of time to think about my trip so far and enjoy seeing more of Spain as it passed by my window.  Picked up my roller bag at Hotel Parma and walked to my airbnb on Francisco about 15 minutes away.  Met Ana who was delightful.  She showed me my room, gave me the keys and off I went to Casa Urola in old town for my 10 p.m. dinner reservation!!!

Tapas bar is downstairs and the more elegant restaurant is upstairs.  Restaurant was pretty full as the Spanish eat late.  Ordered tuna with red and green peppers with caramelized onions in a light broth which was delicious followed by a chocolate hazelnut coolant, warm with a soft center.  Got back to Ana’s about 11:30 p.m.

Got up rather late in the morning and had a delicious pastry and coffee at Arstigan bakery across the bridge.  Wandered around the market which is below ground and then around the old town, in and out of beautiful churches, along old streets and to Placa Buen Pastor to visit the famous church.  As it was a Monday most of the restaurants were closed so I had a cream tart and delicious coffee at a little outside café and later a chocolate gelato.  Saw where the San Telmo museum was and will visit it tomorrow.  It was raining on and off but wasn’t cold so later in the evening I walked along the beach as the night was lovely.  Delicious 3 course dinner at La Fabrica which included a glass as wine, i.e. mushroom ravioli with foie gras cream sauce, grilled tuna with green pepper puree and roasted tiny green peppers and chocolate three ways for dessert.

In the morning I left my roller bag in old town at Hotel Parma, had a pastry and coffee at Arstigan, sitting outside as the weather had cleared.  Went into the market downstairs to pick up some cheese/ham and fruit for the train ride to Barcelona later that day but actually was too full after lunch to eat!  Took a lovely walk along the water and then spent almost three hours in the San Telmo Museum which was very interesting.  It showed how the Basques lived, i.e. tools they used, houses they lived in and even videos of older people who had lived in a time before telephones, running water, etc. 

Walked into old town to Alejandro Bodegon where I had eaten 5 years ago and it was as wonderful as I remembered.  I had the tasting menu which took about 2 hours so I had plenty of time to enjoy it and still catch the 4:00 p.m. train to Barcelona.  Lunch was watermelon gazpacho, anchovy lasagna with vegetable ratatouille and gazpacho cream, soft egg with crisp mushrooms, potatoes and peppers in a light broth, tuna with roasted peppers and caramelized onions, steak with garlic cream which was so tender and delicious and chocolate lava cake with chocolate ice cream finishing with mango dice, mascarpone cream and strawberry sorbet.  Little wooden box filled with cookies and candies also appeared as I paid the check.  No wonder I wasn’t hungry later!! 

Caught the train which arrived in Barcelona about 10:30 p.m.  Took another quick train to Estacion Francia from which I walked a couple blocks to Casa Marcelo where I had stayed the last time I was in Barcelona…Great location near the old town and the metro.   I was greeted warmly and shown into my room and was happy to be back in Barcelona.

Took a walk in the morning and then had breakfast at 9:00 a.m. which was beautifully set out, i.e. whole grain bread, homemade jam, fresh figs and other fruit and strong coffee!  I booked a tour of the Hospital Sant Pau for 10:30 a.m.  It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2008 and is now a museum and cultural center.  Built between 1901 and 1930, it was designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner who also designed the Palau del la Musica.  The buildings are covered with mosaics and the insides are beautifully crafted. 

Walked to the old town for lunch at Taller de Tapas and had grilled octopus with potatoes and arugula salad.  Took the funicular over the ocean to tibidado mountain and the mirador overlook.  Walked through Montiuic park to the jardins de laribal where I saw some beautiful fountains and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of Art de Catalunya, an exceptional museum!!!  I especially enjoyed the modern art section and 2 hours was not enough to see everything.

Walked down to the placa de espanya and had dinner nearby at Petit Pau which was fabulous!!!  A very small little restaurant with only one very friendly server, it was relaxing to be there and the food was really good.  I had clams and cepe mushrooms in cream sauce, duck breast with orange sauce and plum crumble tart with mascarpone cream.  Took the metro back to Casa Marcelo.

My last morning in Barcelona I took a walk around the old quarter before having a leisurely breakfast.  Walked to the estacion francia where I caught the renfe to passig de gracia where I transferred easily to the train to the airport.  Took about an hour total.  Flight was delayed so my arrival in London was also late.  In my haste to catch my flight to LAX I left my roller bag on the conveyor belt after going through security!!!  Think I was so used to just having my little back pack while walking the camion for so long that I forgot that I had another bag.  By the time I realized I didn’t have my bag it was time to board my flight… I spoke with a very nice lady from British Airways who told me to go ahead and board and that she would find my bag and make sure I got it.  After many e-mails from lost property at the LHR airport, a fee of $200 and more e-mails to customs and DHL in LAX my roller bag was delivered to my door a little worse for wear and clearly very thoroughly searched.  I was happy to see it!

The highlight of my trip, of course, was walking the camino.  Perhaps I’ll walk another part of it someday…

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