I have always wanted to explore Barcelona – a city known for its rich culture, energy, and cool character. What better time than spring to get out of the mountains and head to a sunny seaside city for some inspiration?
Let me tell you, I LOVE hotels, so after diligent research I settled on the Mercer Barcelona as our first stop. Located in the Gothic Quarter amongst tiny streets and built around ancient Roman walls, the Mercer did not disappoint. It was the perfect combination of 5 star luxury, sophistication and exceptional service. From a design perspective, I loved the combination of the exposed ancient limestone walls, paired with light oak floors, copper accents and walnut furnishings.
The gastronomic experience in Spain is incredible. We discovered some of the typical tapas such as Iberian ham paired with tomato bread, anchovies and empanadas as well as some more complex flavors at other restaurants. Some casual restaurants worth noting were Bar Mut and August. We had delicious paella with views of the Mediterranean Sea in a nearby beach town, Sitges. We also had a 16 course dinner with wine pairings at Chef Jordi Cruz’ ABaC Restaurant- a 2 star Michelin restaurant. It was an experience to remember! I learned that drinking Cava (Spanish champagne) every day or at least the start of every meal is pretty much standard. Finally, the hot chocolate in Barcelona is to die for. It tastes as similar to melted chocolate bars in a cup; thick and perfect in every way.
You can’t go to Barcelona without touring Antoni Gaudi buildings- an architect and best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. We enjoyed the Guell Palace, built for Gaudi’s longtime patron Eusebi Guell. The mansion’s parabolic arches, intricate ironwork and attention to detail we so impressive not only by today’s standards, but especially when you consider the home was built over 120 years ago.
There was no lack of beautiful cathedrals throughout Barcelona. It seemed as though these ancient beauties were on every block. Religious or not, one must marvel over the sense of history and passion you feel inside these capsules of time.
We ended our stay with a little road trip to the Priorat wine region of Spain, which is about two hours south of the city. We rented some road bikes from Terra Bikes in Barcelona and decided to see this area through a combination of driving and road biking. We started in Farset and explored the winding roads through vineyards where villages popped up intermittently in the distance. The primary grapes, Grenache and Carignan, yield amazing wines from various small producing wineries. Unfortunately, one day isn’t nearly enough to capture the beauty of this area. I’m already planning the next adventure in Spain to include more time in Priorat and specialized luggage for bringing back my Cava and Grenache. Fins la propera (until next time!)