Swimming in the Mediterranean
Picnic Lunch
Dali Museum in Figueres
Drive to Girona

A couple of observations about Spanish hotels. Every hotel we’ve been in other than the Travelodge which was bare bones has had exactly three closets, two for hanging clothes and one with drawers in it, a desk with flatscreen TV (which we’ve never turned on), and an ass-washing station in the bathroom. It’s remarkable uniformity across several price levels, cities, and types of accommodation. Also, there are no washcloths in this country. I wouldn’t have even noticed this but corwin uses one and he finds it annoying. Fortunately, there is often a small towel provided for the ass-washing station, and he’s been using that.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.


We started the day today in Cardona with the traditional huge Parador breakfast buffet. I also had another long hot bath upon waking up while corwin and Kate were still asleep. Third bath of the trip. My muscles are really sore from all the walking and walking and walking so the hot baths have really helped that. Plus, hey, nothing says “I’m on vacation!” better than spending an hour doing nothing but… nothing.

I thought maybe today would be the first break in our string of perfectly sunny days, because when we woke up it was completely overcast, foggy, and misty. But it being the mountains, as soon as the sun hit its peak around noon the fog burned off and left us with a completely blue sky. It’s been absolutely perfect every day so far.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.


Well, I’ve got two things to write about today, food and food. Wait. I mean food and a castle. corwin and Kate slept in while I got up to write up what happened on days 2 & 3. I had a nice hot bath to start the day and relieve the kinks and sore muscles from all the climbing and walking, then went down to the lobby to write and use the free wifi.

I must say I highly recommend the Travelodge Poblenou as a great budget hotel in Barcelona. It was built recently so everything is new. It’s a bit bare bones but for comparison a four-night stay package there cost about the same as what a single night in a medium-high quality place would. They have a breakfast buffet for 7,50 euro, free wifi in the lobby, free luggage storage, a 24 hour bar (! yes!). The room was impeccably clean, the pillows firm and the mattresses good. The Poblenou neighborhood turned out to be a gem, not touristy, very nice, safe, and full of charm, too. Five stars, would stay again.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

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( Sep. 23rd, 2013 04:50 am)

Sagrada Familia
Museu de la Musica
Casa Battló
B Lounge

We started day three of the trip, a Sunday, eating breakfast at La Biennal, the place where we had tapas our first night here. We wanted a substantial meal since we knew we were going to try to do Sagrada Familia and a thing at 3:30 at the Museu de la Musica and didn’t know if a proper lunch would be fit in there.

Sagrada Familia, amazing. Simply amazing. If cathedrals are meant to be awe inspiring, this is a space that when you enter it makes you feel as if you have entered another world. It feels like elves from Middle Earth built it. Or maybe the dwarves built it but the elves decorated it with glass and light and I’m getting goose bumps just remembering it. Photos do not do it justice.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

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( Sep. 23rd, 2013 04:50 am)

La Rambla
Cuitat Vella/Barri Gotic
Food Market
Walking walking walking
Roca Moo

Today we started out on Rambla Poblenou, to use the free wifi and grab free wireless from 100 Montaditos and pastries from Boheme again. Kate got a thing called an “angel hair squash” pastry, which had extruded strings of sugar and… agar? No idea what it was made of but it had a texture sort of like spaghetti squash, hence the name, inside a fluffy pastry.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

It’s 3pm Barcelona time and it has taken us three hours to get to our hotel from the airport via public transit. Every station is under construction and every transfer we made we had to walk from one end to the other, plus we always managed to come out the wrong exit. But we did happen to walk right by the Casa Batillo, the Gaudi house that is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea themed. It was the one thing a friend of ours told us we should not miss. We didn’t go in–there was a huge queue. I was as amused watching the large crowd on the sidewalk taking pictures of the house as I was of the house.

But anyway, here I am at the Travelodge Poblenou. Nice clean accommodation, in fact, it’s sort of “hotel room a la Ikea.” Seems like a pretty nice neighborhood, lots of cafes and bars, but a little bit away from the main tourist drags. Hey! We can see the towers of Sagrada Familia from our hotel room! As well as a huge phallic building that looks a lot like a building I saw in London.

Travelodge Poblenou

The thing we need most now is showers after spending the last 14 or so hours traveling. It’s hot here in Barcelona, too, so we’re sweaty from lugging our bags around on the trains. I see why it is called “luggage.” Showers and then to find something to eat. Kate arrives later–she hasn’t even left Amsterdam yet.

So we walked the Rambla de Poblenou, a very nice promenade lined with cafes and tapas restaurants that runs past our hotel, and after getting a tiny palmera to eat while we walked (a palmera is an elephant ear cookie) from a bakery. They had huge ones, too, as big as both my hands put together, and huge ones DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE but there was no way I was going to have the capacity for one of those. The neighborhood is partly residential, there are some elementary schools along the street, and lots of parents were picking up their kids when we were walking around 4:30.

Palmeras, and my finger for scale.

We settled on a tapas place called La Biennal, and had a fantastic meal that I teased my Twitter and Instagram followers with photos of. Wow, my grammar is shot from jet lag. After eating we took a two-hour nap, which was the most we’d slept yet since leaving Boston 24 hours earlier. And then Kate arrived and we discovered that the big phallic building has a crazy colorful lightshow on it at night! This week is the Festival of Merce, the patron saint of Barcelona, so there are all kinds of huge celebrations going on. It’s actually good, I think, that we’re leaving town on the day before the huge to-do because that day the trains shut down.

Once Kate had unpacked, we went to eat another great meal, this one the other direction on Rambla Poblenou, at La Mar Bella, where we had a seafood and meat paella with langostines on it, plus mussels and pork ribs and squid tentacles, and a giant baked puff pastry stuffed with blue cheese, and white asparagus, and a dessert I’d never had before. They called it helado de limoncello, and it was lemon ice cream with a lemon curd center, rolled in crushed meringue. Delish.

Walking home I was tempted by a gelato stand with tiny tiny cones for 1,10 euro, but I was too full and my throat hurts a little so ice cream was probably a bad idea.

I hope the sore throat is just from airplane dryness and my usual allergies. I’m dosing up vitamin C and going to bed now.

The wifi here is dicey so uploading a lot of pictures isn’t working well, but whenever I have been able to snarf some wifi from cafes or airports I’ve been posting to my Twitter feed or Instagram, so look for me there to see all the photos, some of which are interesting road signs and buildings, but it’s mostly food so far. On Instagram I’m ctan_writer and on Twitter I’m @ceciliatan.

View from our hotel window, Sagrada Familia on left, big phallic building on right.

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

Barcelona Journal

Sept 20 2013
Well, it’s 4:42 am in France, where we’ll be changing planes at Charles DeGaulle airport. So I’ll get to say I’ve been to France. I’ve given up pretending to sleep for now. I think I slept about 20 minutes right after takeoff and maybe 15 minutes a little while ago. But it’s hard to be sleepy when I’m excited about the trip. This is the trip we’ve been trying to take for two years. We wanted to go for our 20th anniversary but we didn’t quite have the time or the money at that point–that was two years ago. Since then corwin’s gotten into a better financial situation (and so have I), and I’ve gotten into a worse health situation that forced me to rethink my priorities and quit doing So Much. So that helped carve out the time for a vacation. Our first Real Vacation since we went to Disney World in 2008.

I’ll have to do a teensy bit of work while on the trip. Some correspondence about the Baseball Research Journal to keep that production schedule moving, and some writing, and I need to post some Daron’s Guitar Chronicles that I didn’t have a chance to before we had to leave. But not much. From what I can tell, there will be Wifi in all the hotels.

Daron is always with me on planes. I’m not sure what it is about airplanes that makes him so present in my head. He’s also usually there on long car trips if I’m driving alone. Spoiler alert for DGC readers: I’ve been planning to write about his trip to Seville ever since going there myself 9 years ago. But this trip is to Barcelona. With some driving into the mountains to see castles and eat in ridiculously good restaurants. Here’s the itinerary of cities/restaurants:

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.



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