Friday, October 30, 2015

#1531 2 weeks in Barcelona day 10: a walk in Platja, a new apartment and dinner with Franc

The tenth day of our trip was one of my favorite days. It was absolutely jam-packed with coolness. Read on...

Wednesday 23 September 2015

It was our last day in Platja d'Aro. We had made arrangements with Sonia and Eric to pick us up around 12:30 or something. I had no idea what check-out time was, so I didn't worry about it. The sky was cloudy over the sea and it looked like it was raining out on the Mediterranean.

in the morning
Notice how the sand is all raked and nice? Yeah, a tractor is used to do that raking and it's loud in the morning :) It's a nice effect, though.

Lizzie and I decided to take a walk along the beach. There's a nice sidewalk that runs the length of the beach and we wanted to walk down to the rock on the beach. It has a name, but I can't think of it (or find it online) for anything. It's a landmark, though.

I'm talking about the big rock on the right
We admired the scenery, then thought we'd walk a little more because we knew of some arches that were on the walk and thought we'd see how far away they were.

Click on photo to enlarge; the arches are on the left past the beach
We decided to go ahead to the arches because we would regret it if we didn't, and our motto was "No Regrets." We walked along the beach. The sand is deep and pebble-y, so it was a slog of a walk, but we powered on and passed this little cala (beach).

the beach looks like it's smiling!
Finally we made it to the arches!

view of Platja d'Aro from the arches
If you click on the photo above and look for a little brown square building toward the end of the hotels, you will be looking at the Hotel Aromar. We stayed in the apartment building next door to it.

clear water
The photo above is a view of the water from the "smiling" beach. Look at how clear the water is. Beautiful!

We walked back to the apartment and the hotel had called and said we were supposed to be out by 10 or 11. Oops! We had already packed our stuff, so we went down to the lobby of the hotel to wait for Sonia and Eric. There wasn't that much time until they were to arrive, so it was no big deal. While we waited, Mom went to look at the sea once more. She returned just after Eric and Sonia arrived and she had the saddest face - in fact, she was crying. Thinking of her family and seeing the beautiful sea made her feel emotional. I had a lump in my throat, too.

We loaded our bags into the car and decided to stop for lunch before we drove back to the city. Eric and Sonia recommended a restaurant in Santa Cristina, the Grill Ruta Bavaria, so that's where we went. They specialize in grilled meats. I had the botifarra - yes, I really like that sausage. I think Mom had a pincho of grilled chicken and Lizzie had croquetas (not grilled, but delicious). We all shared a huge plate of fries that were supremely delicious, especially when dipped in alioli (garlic mayo).  My favorite thing, though, was the basket of beautiful fresh tomatoes, olive oil and salt that they brought to the table along with some crusty grilled bread.

olive oil, salt and tomatoes...pass the bread!
There is nothing quite like the simplicity and deliciousness of toasted bread topped with fresh tomato that is rubbed on the bread, topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. It is divine.  The whole meal was fantastic, light but satisfying.

lunch at Grill Ruta Bavaria
On to Barcelona! The next apartment was in a different part of the city, the Eixample, near the Sagrada Familia church and quite close to the central part of the city, too. Our apartment was on the third floor of the building and thankfully there was an elevator so we didn't have to lug our bags up all those stairs. We put the bags on the elevator, pushed the button, and walked up the stairs. :) The elevator was tiny.

The apartment building was old, but the apartment itself had been remodeled and updated very nicely. I'll show you some photos of the apartment in the next couple of posts. There were three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was super nice looking, but not perfect. There was very little water pressure. More on that in coming days too. The view was nice though.

view from the apartment on Carrer Arago
We were next door to a church/school. The church bells rang every hour, I think. You get used to it.

Sonia and Eric headed back to Santa Cristina with plans to return on Saturday night. We relaxed and got our bearings, then it was time to head to the Barri Gotic to meet Mom's cousin Franc for dinner.

September 23 is the eve of the La Merce festival, so many streets in the Barri Gotic were closed to traffic. The festival is a huge event celebrating the patron saint of the city. We took a taxi from out apartment and the driver took us close to the cathedral and we walked the rest of the way. There were gobs of people everywhere. In one square, there was a concert going on and people were dancing and having fun. Cool scene.

The restaurant Franc chose was Can Pitarra. Like Can Culleretes that we went to with Ferran the previous week, Pitarra is a very old restaurant named for the poet who brought theater to Barcelona. I liked the way it looked.

the view from my seat at Can Pitarra
Franc arrived and we ordered our meal. For a starter, I had a really delicious pasta with garlic, herbes de Provance and goat cheese. I'm a fan of goat cheese! I think I could make a reasonable copy of this dish. I'll have to try it. My main course was confit of duck in a pastry shell with baked apples. It was something I wouldn't normally have, but I thought, what the heck? It was so good! The duck kind of resembled really tender shredded roast beef. I had a bite of the apple, the pastry and the duck and it was the perfect bite: sweet and savory. To drink, we had cava, which is Spain's answer to champagne. It can't be called champagne, of course, because that name is reserved for sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. The cava was divine! We drank two bottles! For dessert, I'm sure I had something lemon-y. Mom had monkfish for her main course, but her favorite part of the meal was the anchovies that she had for the first course. Lizzie had durado for her main course. Durado is sea bream, I think. It was served whole, eyes to tail. Franc kindly de-boned it for her nd removed the head.

The meal was wonderful and lasted a good three hours. Dining there is such a pleasure! The servers check on you, but they are not obtrusive. Your second course won't be brought to you until your first course is done and the plate pushed away. The check (la cuenta) is brought when you ask for it. You can linger and chat for as long as you like. Very pleasant.

me and Lizzie on the left, Franc and Mom on the right at Can Pitarra

We took a taxi back to the apartment and climbed into bed, very content with our day.

Up up-close look at the Sagrada Familia church, lunch with Ferran and his family and an afternoon at Parc Guell.


Kteach said...

I just finished today my blog on the trip, I'm sad, I love reliving the trip. Now I look forward to reading your posts. And hopefully Lizzie will also write some more about the trip :)

Kteach said...

The rock's name is Cavall Bernat :)