The Paella Trip

So, perhaps the signature dish of Spain is paella (pie eh’ ya). And you can make a paella in many styles. But the favorite is Paella Valencia. And Kathy was “tour lead” for our paella outing.

We had a very good tour guide who was English and grew up in Barcelona. He loves his city, knows everything about it, including how to make quality paella.

But before hitting the market to see where one could get the necessary ingredients, he wanted to show us some more sites. We did a quick stop at Casa Mila again. Some of us had not yet seen it and even for those who had he had more perspective on it. Then back on the bus for a ride to Placa Catalunya and a short walk down Las Ramblas to the market (Mercat de la Boqueria). We see vendors with all the necessary and tasty seafood and of course saffron. Then a walk through the Gothic Quarter on the way to the restaurant where we get to watch chefs cooking paellas in paella pans 3’ across. Then of course, we eat. Mmmmmmm.

Friday in Barcelona

Friday in Barcelona

We started Friday with an informal visit to the University of Barcelona with the Student Affairs at Sea grad students. We met on the pier and grabbed the shuttle to town. It’s only a 5 minute ride but due to construction you can’t simply walk there….

We grabbed a metro up to the University station. We stopped for coffee (yea!) Café Solo (single espresso), Café con leche (same but ½ and ½ with steamed milk). Good coffee.

We were not able to arrange a visit in advance. Everyone was having a long weekend following a Wednesday night festival. But the main building was open, some of it, and we got to see some beautiful parts. The internal courtyards were especially peaceful and nice. We saw the “heroic stairs” and the library. A guide on another trip told us that the government was intentionally spreading faculties around the city to improve neighborhoods. That having a faculty in a neighborhood created book shops and coffee shops and changed the nature of neighborhoods for the better.

After out informal tour we split up and Kathy and I headed for Parc Miro. We were looking for the Miro museum (Foundation Miro) which it turns out is not really near the Parc Miro. But, we did get to see the beautiful new stadium under construction. Very Islamic influenced architecture.

We then caught the metro to try to find the vernicular which would take us to the top of mount Montjuïc. That turned out to be easy, the vernicular is part of the metro system and the vernicular deposited us a short walk from the foundation/museum.

The museum was fun. I didn’t care much for his art, but Kathy liked it.

Then we headed back to the Sagrada Familia. We felt rushed through the first visit and besides spending more time there we wanted to take the elevator up one of the towers. It was well worth the return visit. That place is really awe inspiring. They currently plan to complete it in 2025. They plan to add 10 towers to the 8 already completed. 4 more representing apostles, 4 for the evangelists, one for Mary, and the tallest to represent Jesus.

After our visit we tried to find a restaurant that had been recommended. On San Rafael. We were walking toward it and getting into a pretty sketchy neighborhood. I said let’s go one more block which we did. The neighborhood was worse. Kathy suggested (firmly) a retreat. We did try to reach the restaurant from another direction with similar results. So… we went back to a nice place we had seen, next to an art school in a quiet plaza. Had a really nice meal there.


Thursday in Barcelona

Thursday after we cleared customs, Kathy and I walked up Las Ramblas, stopped for tapas in a square, baby fried fish, summer salad, spicy meatballs, CERVESAS! We walked back to the ship in time to board a tour bus with a local guide for a tour of various Gaudi buildings. Wonderful! Visionary! We saw one of the residences he built (Casa Battlo) from the outside, walked through a park he designed (Parc Guell), a all-too-quick run through the temple (Sagrada Familia) and a walk through the Casa Mila.

The weather is 80 degrees and sunny, but the city has lots of trees. Even so, we were fading on the sunny rooftop. Kathy and I had already “signed out” from the bus at the last stop so we could linger at Casa Mila and find our own way back to the ship.

As we were leaving the Casa we were both feeling weak and tired, so… a stop in one of the many sidewalk cafes was in order. Fortified with some pasta (el carbonarra) and some tinto, we were able to walk again. Down through the Plaça de Catalunya. There are signs in many places talking about the need to remember the struggle the people faced during the fascist regime. But they seem to try to strike a balance. Condemning the violent repression without demonizing the people who were on each side.

We made our way to the gothic quarter and had another small meal (Cafe Schilling). Then we walked through the Gothic quarter back to the ship.