Cutting Winter Short in Catalonia

Oops! This post has been lurking in our drafts for a couple months. Sorry about that!

We needed to get outta town for a change of scenery after getting most of the way through the winter. Plus, it was a chance to celebrate a milestone and a Hallmark Holiday.™ Barcelona was the right mix of travel effort, climate, and activity.

Getting There

It’s just a couple hours’ flight from Munich to Barcelona. Get an Hola BCN card for the length of your stay (the 5-day option was perfect for us) and you can use that to get from the airport to downtown. Reaching our our part of town meant a long subway ride. More complicated methods (for those in the know, or the adventurous and non-travel weary) would probably be shorter.

Where We Stayed

Sarah found us a room at the Room Mate Hotel Anna (the fish wallpaper entertained us while waiting for the elevator). It’s in a swanky part of town, with a Burberry store on the corner and other fancy shops in the immediate vicinity (and, conveniently, a post office just across the street). We got the “standard” room, which was quite small, but doable for a few days. The shower was glorious and the breakfast offerings generous. I was particularly happy with the fresh passion fruit every morning. Another surprise: although it came from a push-button automat, the coffee was delicious.

The staff at Room Mate Anna was super helpful and friendly about it, too. When OpenTable messed up our dinner reservations for two different nights (one of them the aforementioned fake holiday), the staff stepped in to clarify and rectify with the restaurants directly. They also arranged our tickets to the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, allowing to skip the lines. Thank you Ivana and team!

Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell

Sagrada Familia

Wowsers. We’d heard about this church and seen pictures of course, but seeing it in person, inside and out, was breathtaking. We’ve lived in Europe a long time and seen a lot of churches, chapels, cathedrals, etc. There is *nothing* like it.

Parc Güell

This didn’t wow us like the Sagrada Familia did — perhaps partly because it was under construction, or because it seemed we could not avoid a long wait for admission. And then once they let us in, it was like “Oh. Nice, I guess.”


We took a subway to one edge of the city and switched to a bus going up the hill to Montjuïc (there is a funicular, but it appeared to be out of service while we were there). There is a lot of scientific and political history associated with the hill and the garrison / prison on top of it. You can read about that at Wikipedia if you like. Suffice it to say for us, it was a nice walk around the outside, overlooking the harbor, and a great chance for some quiet away from the throngs of people going about their lives below in the city.

The Paella Club

Sarah sought out a cooking class for one of our evenings. We were very impressed with our docents Alex and Alex at The Paella Club: they were very generous with information and especially the wine. It never stopped flowing. I suppose that helps the participants warm up to each other.

Astute readers may be scratching their collective head, thinking

Paella traditionally is full of swimmy things, and those shall never cross Sarah’s nose, let alone her plate!

You’re not wrong there. But there were several varieties to choose from:

  • shrimp and squid
  • pork (with chicken broth)
  • vegetarian (leek and mushroom)

We were five pairs of cooks. After a brief introduction to the region’s cuisine and wines, we stepped up to prepared work stations with an induction hob and the ingredients prepared for our respective dishes (this allowed us to focus on the cooking techniques, rather than risk distraction via the sous chef work). Alex and Alex guided us and timed everything perfectly so that all five dishes finished at the same time and we could all sample from each others’ dishes. Sarah and I cooked a pork variety, which was great, but we agreed the leek and mushroom variety was our clear favorite.

Other Eats


They were so kind to us at this restaurant. severely messed up our Valentine’s Day reservation — seemed like they are unaware of the differences between 12 and 24 hour time display and the implications of that when a restaurant is open at both 8:00 a.m. (for breakfast) and 8:00 p.m. (actually rather early for dinner in that part of the world). Our excellent hotel concierge got them to squeeze us in on a popular night for dinner reservations and they did not disappoint.

Sagardi BCN Centre

We splashed out a little on this one for our anniversary. The specialty here is Basque cuisine. Is it high-concept or is that par for the Basque course? We couldn’t say, but we loved it all.

Little Bacoa

This was a fun little burger joint which lived up to its reputation for lunch for us — quick and easy and reasonable prices for great quality ingredients.

Assorted Scenes

Here are a few of our favorites.

A reveure, Barcelona!

We loved your Catalan language, your food, your wine, and your architecture. Moltes gràcies!

One thought on “Cutting Winter Short in Catalonia”

  1. Steven

    Those skip-the-line tours are worth their weight in gold, aren’t they?

    When I went to Barcelona, I took a bus from the airport to the city center… it was definitely not the most efficient way to get there. I don’t think I even knew they had a subway.

    The picture of you two at Montjuïc is delightful! I miss you guys.

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