I grin broadly and cozy up to Ed as we walk to dinner. 24/7! I tease him. You and I, in each other’s space! So cool!
I’m with a guy who not so many years ago was used to 24/7 alone in a sheep shed. Life. Go figure.
Earlier, we are sitting at the hotel Villa Emilia bar, not wanting to pass up the offered free drinks. [And I graciously accepted the free gifted bottle of wine someone brought to our room earlier... do you think they know I wrote them a good TripAdvisor review last year? – I ask Ed. We’re not used to hotels going so much out of their way to please. Or is it the economy? The desire to keep the few hardy travelers in their fold? Either way, it feels decadently grand to be pampered at a place that costs right now about as... the Holiday Inn Express in Sheboygan!] Tired from travel, happy to be in a familiar setting, we’re not in a hurry to walk the city tonight.
I watch the sweet bartender pour my drink of choice here – the deliciously effervescent Cava. I used to think of Champagne as the most perfect (and most expensive!) drink. Step aside, French bubbly. Spanish Cava’s value outshines Champagne’s delicacy. It would have to be a most extraordinary occasion for me to seek out a bottle of Champagne stuff these years.
We decide to forgo tapas for dinner. After all, Barcelona is reputed to be only the number two tapas capital of the world! We’ll be in the spot that holds top honors later on. (An Ocean commenter – a Barcelona traveler – offered some helpful tips for ordering tapas here. I read them after we’d already come back from dinner! Next time!)
Ed suggests the familiar small restaurant around the corner – La Clara. We loved it last year, we love it again this year. Waiting briefly for a table, I glance over at Ed and I think – he looks so good here in Spain!
Maybe it’s the finally trimmed beard. Or the un-torn t-shirt. Or maybe it’s that my eyes are glazed with that rosiness everyone tells me I carry when I’m traveling to places that I love. With my occasional traveling companion.
We both order the shrimp with the garlic, the tomato, the olive oil...
And the waiter reminds us that we are in Catalunya (note their own spelling here) and we should do as they do – have the grilled bread with the tomatoes... (And don’t forget the familiar Catalan Vichy – a fizzy water that Ed could drink endlessly, at every meal.)
For the second course, I cannot resist the carpaccio of beef and local aged cheese. It’s been months since I’ve had beef and in any case, this paper thin stuff is in a class by itself .
So ends our first evening in Catalan Spain. Excuse me, Catalunya. We have one more day on this side of the Pyrenees (if you rent vacation apartments, you’ll know that the starting date always has to be on a Saturday, so we’re not due in Sorede until then), but we’re leaving Barcelona Friday. It’s always less pricy when you get out of the big city. Besides, I’m anxious for a stroll along the water without the roar of traffic behind me.
And still, for a first night away, Barcelona is a joyous, welcoming old girl! And with her dedication to good eating late into the night, what’s there not to love!