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Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Barcelona




I was all set to go to Playa del Carmen for President's Day weekend, when suddenly it became clear that wasn't going to happen. Sitting with Jonathan in the Sky Club in Concourse E, we baked a new plan. Barcelona! I went to www.spg.com and booked Le Meridian on Las Ramblas (a long street , with a wide middle pedestrian area, with lots of street performers.) We were all set for travel!

We arrived the next morning and checked in to the Meridian.

Le Meridien
We could have checked in right away, but were informed that if we waited, we could be upgraded to a suite. I of course decided to wait a couple of hours, so we checked our bags and wandered around.
Walking down Las Ramblas, we visited the market-- "Mercat St. Josep- La Boqueria." Totally crowded on a Saturday morning, but full of beautiful and interesting sights:

Beautiful sight


Interesting Sights


I loved wandering through the meandering small streets to get my bearings in the old city. I spent about a week here in 1999, and things don't change that much. We stopped for coffee by the Cathedral, and wandered around it for a while.


Jonathan in the meandering old streets


Me in Plaza Real



 In fact, my favorite tapas bar from March of 1999--Taverna Basca Irati was still there.  (It's just behind East of Las Ramblas, on C. Cardenal Casanas, 17.)

Taverna Basca iRati

We visited there twice this time, the first day having beer, the second having delicious cava. Both times, however, we ate lots of tapas. Basically, they have a long bar that they fill with all kinds of yummy yummy goodness. You pick what you want, mostly all on a slice of baguette with a toothpick. At the end, they count your toothpics, and that's what you are charged for -- ( 1.80 euros a pop.) The first day, we had 26 between the two of us. But it was well worth it.

Here's a sampling of the 'jamon' (ham) and some stuffed peppers:



That afternoon we did a little shopping. Jonathan bought a scarf, and I bought a sweater, as we had not quite packed for something other than a beach. Barcelona, however, was not nearly as cold as the rest of Europe that weekend, so we were quite luck. Temperatures were in the 60s during the day.

Trying on the new sweater in the suite
We also went to the Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi designed Cathedral that has been under construction for over 100 years. I'd been there before, but had not gone to the top (at least that I remember.) However, lift was closed, so there was no viewing from the top this time either. (Next time -- or maybe when it is finally finished.)

Sagrada Familia


We went out that evening to a bar on Muntaner just north of Placa Universitat, and ran into Dean, a guy that used to live in my building. In fact, the last time I had come to Barcelona, he was on my flight and I ended up staying with him at his friend Claudia's house in Sitges. I had just been telling Jonathan about that, and he happened to walk into the bar we were in. (Also hung out there with a really cool girl that was with him named Gisele, who also happens to be a coworker, as it turns out.) The bar, La Chapelle, had walls covered with religious artifacts:


The next day, in addition to returning to Irati for more tapas (not eating quite as much this time) we watched a really funny street performer by the Cathedral. He was from Australia, and the audience seemed to be Italian and French.


After another fun evening out (and Barcelona is all about fun evenings!) we slept for a few hours before catching a cab to fly back to JFK, where we took the SkyTrain into New York for lunch at The Garage on 7th near Christopher Street Station (I had a lobster, bacon, and avocado sandwich.) We wrapped up the day in New York before catching the last flight home.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Los Angeles

My first Laker's Game! The Lakers won in overtime.  And the next day, I got to see the practice court and watch players practice.

The Staples Center
Court at Pre-game


Lakers' Practice Court 

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