Several factors contributed to a day trip to Barcelona for lunch:
1. I love tapas.
2. My aunt and uncle are on a Celebrity Summit cruise, which left from Barcelona yesterday.
3. I miss my family!
So, I woke up in the dark yesterday and got on a train from Montpellier to Barcelona, arriving just before noon. My aunt’s Crackberry works in Europe, which we discovered to our delight when she rang me as I stepped outside Barcelona-Sants Estacion. I hopped in a taxi, and moments later arrived at Moll Adossat to many hugs and kisses in the shadow of an enormous cruise ship!
I would have loved to do a walking tour of the city center for them, but unfortunately the rain led us to take a taxi, walk around in a circle finding the restaurant I wanted to take them to for lunch, which turned out to be closed, even though I had called them and asked them if they were going to be open, and wind up on Calle Ferran (don’t we all) at my second favorite tapas place, which I never remember the name of, but if you start at La Rambla and walk down Calle Ferran it’s right there on the left on the first or second corner, with honey-colored long tables and a tapas counter directly from God.
I let them catch their breath and dry off as I went up and pointed to the tapas I wanted them to try: Bacala wrapped in roasted red pepper; tortilla; chorizo wrapped in bacon; skewered baby squid in a garlic and parsley sauce; jamon; sauteed mushrooms. My poor uncle was too tired and wet to have any appetite, but my aunt and I ate almost everything and washed it down with a red wine that was not Tempranillo, but the waiter and I were having language problems (he mumbled, and I spoke Frenglitalian).
We talked about everything and nothing and laughed a lot; I also got to check out my swag bag of Cheerios, oatmeal packets, Cream of Wheat packets and Juicy Fruit gum! And Aleve, which is the best drug in the whole wide world.
By then the rain had stopped and a glorious Costa Brava sun was drying out the city. We walked back through the Barri Gothic and hopped in a taxi at the Christopher Columbus statue. We chatted for a bit more at the cruise terminal, and then it was more hugs and kisses and off they went on their fabulous cruise! I headed back to the station, bought a carton of Marlboros for Cal, and trained it back to Montpel in time for Champagne at Claud’s goodbye party. He sold Mi Barrio, my favorite wine bar; we’re not talking about it. Very sad for me.
Lemme tell you, those boats are BIG. Even standing there looking at it, you just can’t get an idea of how incredibly ginormous those things are. My aunt and uncle are veteran cruisers, so they were able to fill me in on the finer points of cruise travel:
1. Get a room with a balcony, port side. This way you see all the fun when you pull into each port. My aunt enjoys having her coffee on the balcony in the morning, and watching the welcome band play for them on the dock or the entertainers come onto the boat.
2. Do not get a room on the top floor; it is below the entertainment deck and is noisy.
3. Spend at least one afternoon in the library, in an over-sized massage recliner, reading a book in front of ceiling-to-floor windows, while at sea. (Reading = snoozing in this case.)
4. They have a day at sea before reaching Malaga from Barcelona. What do they do, go around in circles? I could walk there in less time.
5. The slots in the on-board casino are loose – go for it!
6. The earlier dinner seating is better, because you don’t have to miss the ship’s evening itinerary.
7. The last night is formal, and they lower the lights in the dining room to highlight all the chefs and waiters bringing in a flaming line of Baked Alaskas! And all the dining room guests twirl their white linen napkins above their heads! How fabulous is that?