Monday, July 30, 2012

Barcelona, Spain 2012

My next stop after Schaffhausen was for a series of meetings in Barcelona.  I'd gone there last year for the same type of meetings but this time, the schedule worked out so that I was actually on the ground in Barcelona a little longer than I was in the air (last year's trip was a whirlwind, literally).  The night I arrived from Switzerland, our group went out for a late dinner.  We left the hotel a little before 9 pm and came back around 12:30 am.  Talk about leisurely dining!

The restaurant, Merendero de la Mari, was close to the wharf and the weather was perfect: not too hot, not too cold, with a small breeze.  With that kind of climate, it's almost sacrilege to eat inside so of course we ate outside.  I had missed lunch since I was on a plane half the day (quick connection in Heathrow) and airlines never serve food anymore on short trips but I wasn't too hungry because when I arrived at the hotel from Barcelona airport, I was welcomed with this thoughtful presentation from our events management company - do they know me well or what?
I did refrain from scarfing down all of the cookies and actually only ate one.  And when we got to the restaurant, I opted for seafood because it was lighter and I preferred not eating a big, heavy dinner so late at night.  Plus, it's Barcelona, so of course I'm going to have seafood.
Shrimp Catalan
My entree turned out a bit lighter than I expected and I don't eat the heads of shrimp, just the shrimp itself, but it was actually the right amount because that left room for dessert.  I had "Chocolate Textures" - I had to ask the waiter to explain to me what that was since there was no description on the menu.  It turned out to be layers of chocolate mousse sandwiched between layers of solid chocolate and praline.  Good stuff.

On our last night in Barcelona, my colleagues and I went to Las Ramblas, a busy shopping and dining district of Barcelona.  And in keeping with local fare, we went to a tapas bar.  I've had tapas before but not at a tapas buffet so that was kind of fun.  They didn't have food labels on anything so you had to take your chances on what you were selecting.  I guessed wrong on a couple of items (a breaded scallop-shaped tapas was not actually a scallop but filled with something cheesy-seafoody) but for the most part, enjoyed sampling the little plates.  The restaurant charged 1.80 euros per stick (see how each tapas has a stick in it?) and as we ate and emptied the sticks, we put the used sticks in a round metal container at our table and when we were finished, our waiter counted up the sticks in front of us and prepared our bill accordingly.  Think of it as the Spanish version of dim sum but instead of stamps on your bill as you selected dim sum plates from the carts, it was sticks that tallied up your meal cost.
The tapas buffet
And lest you think all I did in Barcelona was eat, we did walk around Las Ramblas quite a bit and I took some non-food pictures.  Just don't ask me what anything is called because.....I don't know.  But I just love the impressive architecture and the energetic vibe of Barcelona, not to mention the fabulous weather while we were there.  While I don't speak Spanish, it's close enough to Tagalog that I'm familiar enough with the language to be dangerous.  And not get lost on the way to the airport since the meaning of "aeroporto" is much easier for me to guess than "flughafen", lol.

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