Barcelona 2

Sam has been having very long days, but is still fighting fit. A late breakfast in the hotel dining room set us up for another day in Barcelona. The weather forecast suggested the possibility of afternoon storms, so I decided we should try to do as much sightseeing as we could in the morning.

We caught the underground to see the famous cathedral of the Holy Family – the Sagrada Familia. This magnificent unfinished cathedral designed by Anton Gaudi has become the symbol of Barcelona and it was a truly amazing place to visit. The shapes and structures designed over 120 years ago by Gaudi are still being faithfully executed by many skilled crafts and tradespeople, as they continue the construction job.

Our next visit was to the Natural History Museum. This was obviously a popular school holiday excursion as we shared the experience with several class groups of young primary school children. Sam and I enjoyed escaping from the heat for a while and found the exhibits of animals, birds, and insects quite interesting. Our walk back to the Metro took us through the park leading to the Arc de Triomf, an impressive monument set at the end of an avenue of trees and elaborate street lights. The summer sun soon drove us indoors and we again opted for a rest and a swim at the hotel before heading out for the afternoon. Sam was so keen to return to the hotel that he had even declined lunch, so we filled up on fruit that we still had in the hotel fridge.

The afternoon showers remained at bay, so our next destination was the Ceramic Museum. It was located in a magnificent palace with amazing and cool gardens with fountains and pools. The ceramics were very beautiful and Sam was impressed to see some work by Picasso, an artist he had studied at school last year. We spent some time inside and outside the museum. Sam found some seeds attached to leaves which flew like helicopters when thrown up in the air. We brought some of those home with us to show Peter.

Peter was already home from the conference when Sam and I returned to the hotel at about 6.15. We told him of our adventures and then he told us of his disastrous day. His computer had died. He had spent his lunch hour locating and visiting the local Apple shop where the sad news was related to him in clear enough Spanish that he understood. That was the end of our daily blogs and our uploading of photos. We tried to cheer Peter up showing him our exciting leaves. Then Sam and I went up to the roof garden to launch them onto the ground below. Sam left the best one till last and allowed me the honour of dropping it. Sadly, it landed on the ledge only a few feet below, but our patient waiting was rewarded when a gust caught it and took it out, then up, before its spectacular spiral downwards.

Peter, Sam and I then headed out to find dinner. Sam suggested we should try to find the 4 Cats restaurant which had been recommended to me by Des Coates and which Sam and I had been unable to locate the day before. Peter returned to the hotel to get the walking directions on Google maps on his iPhone (luckily we are not completely digitally devastated), and we found it after an easy short stroll which finally led us up a very narrow alleyway. Peter commented that it was not surprising that we had not found it the day before.

Our entry through the small café at the front gave no clue as to the size of the large dining area to which we were eventually directed at the back. The 4 Cats has been a favourite eating place of many artists and was a popular tourist haunt now. We were among the early diners to arrive at 8.30 pm and the place really started to fill as the dining hour of 9 pm arrived.

Peter’s version of the meal:

Majella came to Barcelona prepared with a recommendation from Des Coates for a restaurant, Els Quatre Gats, that had been frequented by various celebrities, including Picasso. I had searched for it using Google on our first night in town and found it on the map but Majella had missed it when she tried to get there on her first day out in Barcelona.

As we stepped out this evening I asked if she had somewhere in mind as she did last night. Remembering her displeasure with the ambience of her choice for last night, she said she had nothing in mind. A few metres further on she remembered Els Quatre Gats but did not know how to get there. I dashed back to the hotel to access their WiFi so that I could search and get directions on my iPhone. Google estimated a 9 minute walk. I caught up with Majella and Sam and we headed off.

Sam and I enjoyed our Conejo con almendras at the Els Quatre Gats.

We found the restaurant easily with the directions on my iPhone and decided to give it a go. The ambience was much more pleasant than Majella’s choice for the previous evening – no smokers and a piano player. I decided quickly on the “Conejo con almendras” because conejos was something I had not eaten before. Majella opted for “Suprema de salmon fresco a la plancha relleno de Jamon Iberico y salsa de queso azul”. Sam hesitated over the “Sopa de cebolla gratinada con huevo escalfado y queso de Parma” but decided to join me with the conejo. Majella and I shared a bottle of Portius Navarra rosado 2008 but Sam stuck with plain agua.

The meals were very good and Sam got up to his elbows in his dinner despite our guidance with dissection. When we finished, the waitress brought a dessert menu and recommended the “Piña Catalunya” for Sam and Majella to share. That was a half a fresh pineapple with the flesh cubed and served in a creamy custard in the shell topped with caramelised sugar. I had cafe solo – small but satisfyingly creamy.

It was a very enjoyable meal. We walked home a long way round, enjoying the cooler night air.