Europe at 30: Part II: Barcelona

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I couldn't have predicted the wonderful, serendipitous experience that Barcelona would end up being if I had wanted to. When I chose it as the last destination on my trip all I really knew was that I wanted to go someplace warm and that was near the water. I had no idea of the way Barcelona would reinvigorate my spirit, but thankfully that is the essence and the beauty of traveling in itself.

Disclaimer: Extremely photo heavy post :)
Our El Palauet apartment suite in Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.
El Nacional restaurant and bars in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain. April 2015.

Choosing where to start is going to be the most difficult part, so let's start with the accommodations. Being that I was celebrating my 30th birthday, along with a desire to want to celebrate having come through a pretty tumultuous year in 2013 and finally seeing the dust settle on the issues that year kicked up, I wanted to treat myself to something luxurious and beyond my wildest dreams. Essentially something I had always seen in Conde Nast Traveler.

I researched several hotels via Tablet Hotels, which I absolutely love as a resource for luxury hotels and boutiques. I heard about Tablet Hotels via Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest several years ago and was hooked on their hotel recommendations every since. The locations are always exotic and the photographs beautifully shot. I soon found out about a place called El Palauet in the heart of Barcelona's Passeig de Gracia, and was immediately in love with the bright white modern decor. My friends will tell you, I'm a complete sucker for white anything. I have the wardrobe to prove it :)

I contacted El Palauet to see if it would be possible to stay at their accommodations for a week along with three of my best girlfriends, and was incredibly excited that the dates we had chosen were available.

Our room was the beautiful Mezzanie Tibidabo, on a mid-level of the apartment. Our concierge opened the suite door to a room full of natural light, floor to ceiling windows bedazzled by a gorgeous floral mural that has been there for over 6 decades, modern and state-of-the-art amenities, a fully stocked refrigerated complete with all of the things we had requested prior to our arrival, and two huge bedroom suites. Each suite featured an open floor plan bathroom with glass doors and porcelain sinks. There was even a beautiful terrace just off one of the bedrooms. Each evening, the staff of El Palauet would prepare the room for bed by setting the lights on dim, turning down our beds, and leaving a little goodnight note.  I still smile at the memory of our four women giggling and dancing and recalling each day's events in the dining room over jamon, cheese, champagne, ice cream, and...wait for it...Trolli's gummi worms. That's right ;) I can't thank El Palauet enough for letting us use them as our home base for the week, and being able to experience Barcelona from such a first class seat.

We Instagrammed and Tweeted our hearts out over this place. You can see those posts under the hashtags #europeat30 and #elpalauetlivingbarcelona

The Hotel

My friend Dian standing in the threshold to the balcony at El Palauet in Barcelona, April 2015.
Beautiful living room of the Mezzaine Tibidabo at El Palauet in Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.




Grabbing an early morning cortado at Yokoama in Barcelona, April 2015.

The aftermath of a beautiful dessert with raspberry jam, and curry with ice cream at the restaurant Kaiku in Barceloneta. Sounds like a complicated mix but it was amazing.

My friend Tina on the boardwalk in Barceloneta after lunch at Kaiku, Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.
Strolling by Casa Batlo, just down the street from El Palauet on Passeig de Gracia. April April 2015

Requesting extra jamon to take-away from the restaurant Tapas 24, Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.
I couldn't get enough of all the colorful scooters! Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

My friends Melissa and Dian, Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

One of my best friends Melissa joined me on the trip. We celebrated her birthday the next day! Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.


Dian, Janet Piven, and I in a post-lunch glow during our stroll through Gracia. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

Illustrator and our unofficial tour guide Hanoch Piven, Barcelona, Spain April 2015.
This really was one of those serendipitous trips where all the beautiful ways in which worlds and people could collide did so.

Several months before our trip, I met a Spanish artist in D.C named Hanoch Piven through my friend Dian. I had no idea who Hanoch was and no knowledge at the time about his incredible portfolio of illstrations. His career is rich in the who's who in the design business. But all of that aside, he is one of the most generous, kind, smart, and thoughtful human beings I've ever had the pleasure to meet. When he found out we would be in Barcelona, he invited my friend Dian and I to speak to his daughter's art class just north of the city to share our perspective on working in the design and photo industry. It was a morning I won't forget. But before that class, we met Hanoch and his equally kind and talented wife Janet for lunch.You name it and Janet is more than likely skilled and mastered it: baking, cooking, hand making hats, writing and illustrating and PUBLISHING a children's book, teaching, etc... Together they made up the sweetest couple and best tour guides in the city.

Walking among the stone walls and pastel colored buildings among the ubiquitous balconies that Barcelona offers, we wandered through a large market where fresh seafood, meats, vegetables, and tapas were in no short supply. Hanoch and his wife led us to one of their favorite restaurants, La Pubilla, where we dined on a fantastic and memorable meal of handmade pasta with Parmesan cheese, a slow cooked soup with fresh tuna, and a dessert of fresh cream and apples cooked in a sweet wine and cinnamon.

A quick snap while strolling through the Jardin Laribal. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

 Melissa and I arrived a few days before our friends and found some homes with lemon and orange trees out front that we wouldn't mind owning in the future. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

 Tina and Dian with the American artist and sculptor Jack Champion, who spent the afternoon showing us around Figueres. Spain 2015.

 Melissa and I at Park Guell. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.
The W Hotel in the distance in Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain April 2015.
My fascination with the city's posters and scooters knew no bounds! Barcelona, Spain April 2015.


Just outside Salvador Dali's home in Cadaques, Spain. April 2015.


I wish I could pinpoint on particular highlight of the trip, but in truth there were so many! Celebrating one of my best friend's birthday on the beach after a seaside lunch of black rice paella and banana cheesecake, dining at the amazing Vietnamese-Creole fusion Restaurant Me, where the chef sat down with each of the tables and spoke about each individual dish and his world travels. Walking through the beautiful home of artist Salvador Dali and being reminded to surround your home with people and things you adore the most because it really is your sanctuary in the world. Wandering the streets at all hours of the day and never growing tired of the scenery. Fawning secretly over every Spanish man that walked by you because they were all just so beautiful. I mean...Spain, bottle up whatever secret sauce is turning everyone into a movie star and send me three cases, please. Riding on the back of a golf cart down the cobble stone streets through the coastal town of Cadaques and then serendipitously bumping into a retired American artists and sculptor who showed us around neighboring city Figueres and imparted some great reflections on life and work.

Banana cheesecake aftermath at Kaiku. Barcelona, Spain, April 2015.

Cockles dressed in lemon and ginger sauce at Kaiku. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

The magnificent ceiling at El Palauet. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.



Couldn't stop looking up at all the lovely balconies. Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

Rooftop pool at Hotel Onix Fira, Barcelona, Spain April 2015.

TAPS restaurant in El Poble Sec neighborhood.


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