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April 21, 2011

Quick Bite: Bar Mut in Barcelona

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After we left La Sagrada Familia on our last day in Barcelona, Tammi and I went to Bar Mut, in L'Eixample for some wine and a few snacks. We were there in that late afternoon dead period that confounded us just about everyday, but thankfully, they were open through the siesta and we spent a couple hours snacking and drinking wine there. See the food after the jump.

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April 20, 2011

Barcelona: La Cerveteca

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If there's anything I really find myself missing when traveling abroad, it's the availability of good beer. In Barcelona, we imbibed in wonderful cavas and red wines, but when it came to beer, nearly the selection everywhere boiled down to international mass-market dreck and a few, slightly better imports like San Miguel, the Filipino beer I discovered in Hong Kong. If ever there's an American beer, it's the worst of the big brands that made it all the way across the Atlantic.

So, it caught my attention when we passed Le Cerveteca. It looks more like a shop than a bar and in the window, there were signs up with the logo for the Victory Brewing Co., a Pennsylvania-based brewery known for it's quality, hop-laden beers.

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April 18, 2011

Scenes from Barcelona: Kiosko Universal

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Heading to Barcelona, I was obsessed with the Boqueria marketplace. I wanted to photograph it and sample all the different foods there, gorging myself on slice after slice of jamon and who knows what else. Once we got there, though, I ended up mostly window shopping, ogling the wares and wondering how one cooks a cockscomb.

On the one 'morning' we did eat there (and by morning, I mean afternoon), we went to Kiosko Universal.

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March 28, 2011

Barcelona: History All Around

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Directly across from our hotel in Barcelona stood this plaque honoring Salvador Segui. He was an anarchist and part of the republic that was overthrown by Franco in the Spanish civil war.

I don't know enough about the war to be able to regale you with facts about it, but suffice it to say that it was significant and fascinates me for its context in history. Seeing reminders of those events around us while we traveled reminds me of the other fascinating

March 19, 2011

Barcelona: The Vila Viniteca Food Market

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As usual, I took some time while we were in Barcelona to pick up a couple bottles of wine to take home. After reading about the selection available there, we sought out Vila Viniteca in the warrens of El Born, a neighborhood we ended up wandering around quite a bit. When we got there we discovered that it was much more than a wine shop.

Turns out there are three or four different storefronts, this one, above with stacks and stacks of wine, another for private events a third that we didn't get a good look at and a food market that captured my attention for a full half hour. Check it out after the jump.

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March 16, 2011

Barcelona: Cal Pep

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Tapas bar, Cal Pep has been on Barcelona's must visit lists for so long that I almost skipped it just because it's so over-exposed. Except that it was clearly on the list for a reason. I wasn't going to skip it just to be contrary.

The crowded line of people waiting for one of the prized seats at the counter Was enough to scare us off one night, but after our lovely lunch at Quimet i Quimet, I was very excited to keep trying the more amazing options in town.

The line, it turned out, wasn't so big a deal. We walked in to find half a dozen people ahead of us and we were seating within 15 minutes. We passed the time with some house wine and watching the show behind the counter as the chef chatted with customers and the staff presented new dishes to each party.

When we sat down, we were asked what sort of foods we liked and whether we had any particular restrictions. It seems the standard serving style is what the Japanese call omakase - chef's choice. You're in their hands and they bring up whatever is fresh and fits your preference. We went with it and enjoyed course after course - plus one addition we couldn't skip. See the blow by blow after the jump.

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March 15, 2011

Barcelona: Agua Con Gas

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I took a liking to sparkling water back on our honeymoon in Paris. There, as in Barcelona, every meal begins with an offer of water with or without 'gas.' Tammi prefers her water flat, but I found that I really enjoyed the sharp bubbles and, in the case of the Vichy Catalan water that I had nearly everywhere, a slightly salty flavor.

March 7, 2011

Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia

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Much like our time at home, when traveling, we often mean to explore cultural attractions and sites, but usually end up spending more time exploring the local food and drink. I'll walk for hours through neighborhoods tracking down hidden culinary delights, but the museum down the block from the hotel often gets missed. Sad, but true.

So, when we found ourselves with just a day left in Barcelona and we hadn't been to La Sagrada Familia, I considered skipping it. But just briefly. I took my sister to see it 8 years ago and before that had seen it on my high school Spanish trip back in '94. It is quite literally a wonder and not to be missed.

As a site that's been under construction for a century, it's been different every visit. Where I remember the various piles of marble and concrete stacked from my last visit, there is now a huge open hall, a pulpit, statues and gorgeous stained glass windows lighting much of the space.

If I was surprised, Tammi was blown away. The size and scope of the entire building, the beauty and the detail brought her to tears. Neither of us is religious, but walking through the place is a humbling experience.

This week on Tumbr, I'll be posting photos from the La Sagrada Familia, inside and out.

March 4, 2011

Barcelona: Quimet i Quimet

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When I put out the bat signal requesting recommendations for where to eat and drink in Barcelona, no less than four friends insisted that we try Quimet i Quimet. The small wine shop in the Parallel district is famous for its tight quarters and it's wonderful selection of tapas.

The talk of its small space certainly made me hesitate. I'm not partial to being bumped and jostled at every turn, but given the word of some of my most respected food geeks, I had to go. We went for a late lunch and actually found plenty of room.

We weren't super hungry, so didn't get that much - although I could certainly have kept gorging myself just because it was all so good. Check out the courses after the jump.


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Barcelona Observations: Broken Benches

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Walking around Barcelona, I noticed that instead of benches in public spaces, there were sets of three chairs bolted down slightly askew and spread out. I suppose it stops anyone from trying to sleep or spread out over them.

March 3, 2011

Barcelona: Gracia

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We spent most of our time in Barcelona in the tourist centered Rambla/Barri Gotic area with regular excursions to the vaguely less overrun El Born area. There is much to do there and it wouldn't have been a loss if we had spent the entire time wandering the corners and alleys of this area, but I wanted to see a bit more. A friend who had lived in Barcelona told me to check out the Gracia neighborhood. It's a neighborhood more for locals than visitors with quite a few bars, shops and restaurants and a vibe that is less about selling stuff to tourists than offering a cool environment where people actually live.

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March 1, 2011

Barcelona: Cafe Viena

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It's been several years since Mark Bittman wrote that the best sandwich he'd ever had was from a cafe in Barcelona, but it's been in the back of my head ever since. Now that we were there, it was high up on my shortlist of things to try while we were there.

The inauspicious Cafe Viena doesn't stand out from the various shops and cafes along La Rambla, but it's so worth the visit.

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Barcelona: Sant Jaume Sunday Danceparty

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We got to Barcelona on a Sunday morning. While we waited for our room to be available we wandered the Gothic District looking around and seeing what's what. Somehow, we missed the dancers of San Jaume until later in the evening as we were searching for the Picasso museum.

I'm glad we did. It turns out that the plaza hosts a weekly musical performance, along with some sort of traditional circle dance by some of the older Spaniards. It was a fun little glimpse beyond the busking and nonsense of the Rambla.

February 28, 2011

Barcelona Observations: Spanish Time

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Since we were only in Barcelona for four days, we didn't try to acclimate to the time zone too much. Except the first morning, when I woke up early and took this and a few other sunrise photos from the roof of our hotel, we rarely got out before 1pm.

Most often, we'd start the day with lunch in the early afternoon, then tapas around 6-7pm, then dinner around 10 or 11pm. Occasionally, the night was finished with a late night doner kebab from one of the Turkish spots in El Raval near the hotel.

Our only real issue with the local schedule was the siesta period from 2 or 3pm to 5pm - invariably the exact times when we were hunting down a shop. We also had some difficulty finding open restaurants and bars Sunday night - the hazard of visiting a catholic nation.

We usually managed to get back to those places, but sometimes it took a few attempts.

Barcelona Graffiti

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My last trip to Barcelona was back in 2002. I was already taking a lot of photos, but not nearly as seriously as I have been in recent years. Using a borrowed point & shoot, I shot scenery and my sister, who I was traveling with and, for the first time, lots of graffiti.

The street art scene was starting to pick up here in New York, but it wasn't until I saw all the interesting pieces up in Barcelona that I started to really consider photographing it.

This week on my non-analog Tumblr blog, I'll be posting my pics of the local artwork I came across.Enjoy!

February 24, 2011

...And back again

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Tammi and I got back from Barcelona this afternoon. It was a great trip and I've got loads to write about. I hope to spend the next day or two catching up on my posts about this trip, San Francisco, Aspen and Hong Kong.

February 16, 2011

Barcelona-Bound

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Apologies for the lack of content lately. I have much to catch up on, but first a bit of news: I found a last minute fare deal from New York to Barcelona and Tammi and I are taking it. This weekend, we're off to spend 4 days on the Mediterranean.

I plan to spend a good deal of that time photographing and eating and hopefully practicing my Spanish. When I get back in a week, I hope to have many stories to tell.
Stay tuned...

July 1, 2008

Photo of the Day: Santa Claus has a Posse


Santa Claus has a Posse, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. 2003.

September 20, 2007

Bye Bye Barcelona


Sagrada Familia 1.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

For the time being, Barcelona will have to remain a memory. Last week I canceled our thanksgiving trip.

While I like to say that this vacation was sacrificed to the Wedding Gods, in truth it was to the much more frightening Responsible Adulthood Gods. These Gods don't leave you alone after the big day. They stalk you for the rest of your life making demands.

For the first time in a while, I have no destination to plan for. There's no lonely planet I need to go out and buy, no place for me to research in the dozens of travel magazines or newspapers I hold onto for just such projects.

I've said for a long time that the only way I make it through the daily routine is by looking to my next destination. Planning my travel has been the counterweight to work and other such nonsense. I guess I'd better find something else to keep everything together before everything falls apart.

April 29, 2007

Photo of the Day: Barcelona Boardwalk


Barcelona, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

New Year's Eve, Barcelona, Spain. 2002.


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April 12, 2007

Photo of the Day: Barcelona


Barcelona, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


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