The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris
The flights to and from Barcelona looked great so we reserved a room for three at the
Barcelona Hilton Diagonal
Mar. Our friend Amanda would be traveling with us this time. The reservation had a 48 hour cancellation policy so we needed to be pretty sure we would get to Barcelona. The flight over continued to look good right up until departure day when a bunch of other standby passengers with higher priority decided they wanted to go too. If they all checked in, the newly listed passengers would bump us into the coach cabin so we started looking for other alternatives and found that there were lots of business class seats available on the Madrid flight which would leave 30 minutes after the Barcelona flight.
At the Madrid gate, we were assigned business class seats! The plane was equipped with lie-flat seats but they were the type that we refer to as "sliding board" seats (or "the pods"). They lie flat but at such an angle that if you fall asleep, you could wake up to find yourself crumpled at the bottom of the "sliding board". You really have to adjust the seat so that it is not quite flat so you'll have something to hang onto with your hip while you sleep. We weren't complaining though, it was certainly better than coach!
We checked in at the Hilton and were upgraded to an Executive Room on the 19th floor. The hotel is right next door to a shopping mall with a great little outdoor restaurant section on the roof.
We dropped our bags and headed to the Executive Lounge for afternoon tea (which also includes coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine) accompanied by a nice selection of sweets and pastries. The view of the ocean from the balcony outside the lounge is breathtaking.
Over drinks, we studied the travel guide and maps and planned our adventure.
When we looked up, we noticed that the rain was rolling in.
We decided to have another drink and wait for the rain to subside. It didn't last long, and then we were able to walk down to the beach & stick our collective toe (for this activity, we used Amanda's toe) in the water.
We noticed some beach restaurants and thought we'd stop for a beverage, but they had closed early because of the rain. We decided to trek over to the mall and check it out. After a quick spin through a very American-like mall, we made our way to the outdoor restaurants on the roof. With the sun out, Cañas y Tapas was a very pleasant place to enjoy a glass of wine and do some people watching.
Once the sun went down, it got a little chilly so we moved to the indoor section of Restaurant Tapes Cerveseria next door. Amanda sampled the seafood paella, BJ tried the hake, and Tony stuck with the non-seafood item on the menu - pizza. We enjoyed a bottle of the local Catalunya wine with our dinner.
We topped off the night back at the hotel in the executive lounge before retiring for the evening.
We had planned to just see it from the outside, but after we gawked at it for awhile, BJ and Amanda decided they needed to see the inside. We found a line and stood in it, realizing that when we got to the front, we were in the line for people who had purchased online tickets. The attendant took pity on us and let us through to the front of the other (much-longer) line, thank goodness!
The ceiling was also very interesting.
We got a closer look at the outside from the porch and found a sign describing each of the elaborate scenes on the face of the building.
After a quick stop at the gift shop so Amanda could buy some souvenirs, we found Tony (who had elected to skip the inside tour) waiting for us at a sunny sidewalk cafe.
We said goodbye to the Sagarada Familia and started for the next stop on our self-prescribed tour. La Rambla.
We thought we would walk up Las Ramblas for a bit and then veer off to find the Picasso museum. It didn't take us long to tire of the VERY CROWDED street.
We got out the GPS and programmed in the Picasso museum and struck out. We passed some interesting artwork and buildings along the way.
We soon discovered that the GPS didn't seem to know exactly where the Picasso museum was and the street signs left a little to be desired, so deciding that we were lost, we did the only smart thing. We stopped for a glass of wine and some pizza! Buon Appetito was strategically located on our circuitous route and had an outdoor table available.
After enjoying our pizza, we got directions from the waiter and found that we had been circling the Picasso museum. We followed his directions which conveniently led us past some pottery shopping opportunities.
Tired from the hunt, BJ and Tony found an outdoor table at a little place just across the street to wait for Amanda to tour the museum.
As impressive as the mosaic structures are, the view from atop the terrace is worth the price of admission (free!).
After exploring the park and basking in the sun for a bit, we decided to make our way back to the hotel. We made note of several interesting architectural specimens near the hotel.
We dined on the hors d'oeuvres in the executive lounge and relived our day over cocktails.
We went inside to pick up a map. BJ picked up a booklet that turned out to be the
GGG (Go Gay Guide). It had lots of good information about restaurants and hotels, and the town in general, including which beaches are clothing optional (NTTAWWT).
The town stretches along the coast bordered along one end by a beautiful church. It was too cold for sunbathing, but a beautiful day for a stroll on the beach.
As we were wandering through an alley near the church, we found the Maricel Palace which, as you can see from the picture is quite, well, blue!
Leaning out over a stone wall, we were able to see this person's fabulous patio view of the Mediterranean.
As we continued our exploration, we came across a little cat sanctuary. Someone had built a little house inside a small fenced area and there were a couple of feral cats lounging around. We heard the sound of a baby kitten mewing over near the bushes so we poked around a bit to try to find it. We finally realized that the sound was coming from beneath one of the cats and figured out that she was in labor! This was a new experience for all of us, seeing a live birth. I guess the mom got spooked by our presence because she got up and ran off with the kitten sticking out of her. Tony saw them later, back in the same spot, the kitten lying near the exhausted mom.
Tony and Amanda ordered a few tapas to share and BJ ordered a bocadillo. BJ's order seemed to confuse the waiter. He looked exasperated and said, "Bocadillo is sandwich." BJ nodded that she knew what it was and that was what she wanted. The waiter shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes, but she got her sandwich! It was delicious, by the way! We relaxed with our wine and tapas while we watched a nearby table eat an elaborate multi-course meal complete with several bottles of wine. When it was time to go, we COULD NOT get the waiter's attention to get the bill. BJ even stood in front of him on the way back from the restroom and asked for "La Cuenta, por favor." He pushed her aside, with a comment that we took to mean, "Don't bother me, I'm busy." He finally brought the bill, but not before Tony left the table, afraid that BJ and Amanda were going to make a scene.
Tired and happy, the three of us made our way back through the lovely little town to the train station.
We decided to try a different route back to the hotel to see if we could find a better way to the airport the next morning. We knew we could get the train at the Passeig de Gracia stop, but getting from the metro to the train took us on a convoluted route, through a tunnel, up some stairs, down some stairs, across a metro platform, down a hall, up some more stairs, and finally to the train station. After studying the map, we decided to get off at the Bellvitge stop, and then take the dark blue line to the red line to the green line to the light blue line, to the yellow line to get back to our hotel stop at El Maresme Forum. It would mean more stops, but we could avoid that convoluted walk through Passeig de Gracia. When we got off at Bellvitge, we had a short above-ground walk to the metro station.
BJ and Tony