This was our first evening dinner in Barcelona. My wife Heidi, my 3 daughters Jaime (on right), her friend Carolina (her family lives in Palma, she is living in Barcelona, Corey, me and my daughter Jessica. We were there in 2013.
Arrived in Barcelona on July 21st. Took taxi to the Renaissance Fira Hotel. Checked in about 2:30 and Newwent up to room. Hotel was high rise (we were on the 24th floor) and their rooms were nicely laid out.
Contacted Jaime and she and Carolina said they would come to the hotel and join us at the outdoor pool. The outdoor pool was located on the 27th floor and had an absolutely dramatic view of Barcelona. The outdoor pool had the most comfortable lounge chairs we have ever experienced.
Jaime and Carolina showed up and we talked and discussed what we might want to do over the next couple of days. Jessica was due in around 5:30 and was taking the train from the airport to the hotel. Carolina and Jaime were meeting a friend of Carolina’s at some bar on a beach area and Heidi and Corey went with them. I stayed and waited for Jessica.
Jessie arrived closer to 7:00 pm and brought her luggage up to the room. We made contact with Jaime and Carolina and decided to meet them at Placa Espanya.
Jess and I got there (purchased Metro tickets) and walked around the area. Went near a shopping mall (which is a converted bull ring) and found an outside tapas place and got a beer.
About a ½ hour after we got there, we found the group and went and had tapas at a nearby restaurant called Tapa Tapa. We had an assortment of tapas and just enjoyed sitting outside. Got back to the hotel around 11:00 pm and got a drink in the lobby area.
Jessica’s friend, Riana, arrived but we could not find her. We had a left a key for her with the Staff, but the key was for our room (Heidi and Mine) and we found her luggage near our bed. We moved her luggage to Jessie’s room and Jess and Corey found her. All was well.
Monday, July 22nd, I have setup a bike tour and Jess and Riana decided to do something else. With our stay, we had buffet breakfast which was very good. Corey, Heidi and I took the train down Plaza Sant Jaume and could not find the location. Walked around the area and asked some people where this place was located and found it. We arrived there about 15 minutes before the start and Jaime made it there as well.
The tour lasted four hours and we got to see many of the suggested tourist locations. We started at Plaza Sant Jaume, this plaza is home to City Hall and seat of the Catalan Regional Government. Our next stop was at Plaza del Rei, where Ferdinand and Isabella met with Columbus upon his return from the “New World”. We visited La Catedral, a Catalan Gothic Church that houses the tomb of Saint Eulalia, the first patron saint of Barcelona. We rode by the Palau de la Musica Catalana designed by architect Lluis Domench I. Montaner and we were making our way up to La Sagrada Familia the most famous site in Barcelona which was designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. After touring the outside of this church, we headed off for the beach area by riding in the Parc de la Ciutadella which has a zoo, a lake with boats, gardens and a large fountain designed by Gaudi. Along our way we saw Barcelona’s Arc del Triomf and ended up at the Barcelona Beach and Port Vell. We had lunch down at Barceloneta Beach at Sal Café. We talked with some of the other bikers and just enjoyed the setting. After lunch we headed back to the bike shop locale. During the tour we saw the building “Palau de la Musica Catalana” where many symphonic performances take place and we walked over to that building. Had difficulty finding the entrance (we thought they had tours) and after walking around the area, we found the entrance area. We signed up for the 4:30 tour and had to wait about an hour. The tour was very interesting and we did see the performance hall where they played the organ by computer settings.
After the tour, we headed back to the hotel and got back there about 6:30 range. Immediately changed and we up to the pool area. We had made plans to meet Carolina in the El Born area for dinner that night. Walked around the area and decided on a restaurant, Cuina Santa Caterina. While we waiting, Jess, Riana and I walked around the area and then when we came back we decided to eat outside as the seating on the sidewalk became available even though it had a more limited menu than the main restaurant. We ordered several tapas dishes and just enjoyed being outside. Another side benefit was the fact that sunset in Barcelona was taking place around 9:00 pm. It really makes the day seem like it is longer than at home. After dinner, we strolled around the area heading for the Metro and searching for Gelato. Carolina knew a place and we got some gelato, not all us, but it was great and then we headed back to the hotel.
Tuesday the 23rd, I had booked a free walking tour. Corey decided to go with Jess and Riana for some touring and shopping. Our tour met just off Las Ramblas, the pedestrian walking area, and started around 11:00 am. We opted for the City tour which included several buildings that were built by the famous architect Gaudi. The last stop on this tour was La Sagrada Familia, which we saw on the bike tour. Rather than go, we were provided a way to see some on Gaudi’s interior in one of his buildings by visiting a photo art exhibit. After visiting that exhibit and catching some of the interior of that building, we met up with Corey, Jess and Riana for lunch back in the El Born area (we had seen these restaurants the previous night) and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. After lunch, Riana left, as she had signed up for a cooking class, and we took off for Park Guell, which is an environmental landscape architecture park that Gaudi was instrumental on working on. We took the Metro out to this location and we walked up to the park (1/2 mile). As we walked to the park, it meant walking up steep streets (reminded me of the hills in San Francisco) to the park. On the way up, there were several escalators helping us getting up to the top! We walked around the park and saw several of the landscape setups, along with the longest bench that goes around an area that is not particularly attractive. One of the striking features of this park are the views we had of the City of Barcelona and the port/beach area. After the park, we walked back down the street, got a drink of lemonade, freshly made, and Heidi and the girls stopped in some stores. Made it back to the Metro and made our way back to the hotel. Got back around the 7:00 pm range and once again made our way up to the pool area. We were leaving the next day for Mallorca and we decided to eat at the hotel that evening. They had some (powers outage issues), but were able to accommodate us for dinner. We had some Seafood Paella dishes that were very good and very filling.
Wednesday the 24th, we had breakfast at the hotel and made our way to the airport for an 8:30 flight. Going through security at European airports for European flights is much simpler than going through U.S. airports. The flight is about an hour and we arrived in Mallorca around 9:30 am. I had reserved an automatic 5 seat vehicle and we decided to have Jess added on as second driver. In addition, we decided to take the liability insurance. Anyhow, we got the vehicle and managed to get our luggage into the car and got directions to the hotel.
The hotel was a Marriott (that was sold prior to our arrival and shared Marriott Vacation Club, Son Antem) was about 12 miles from the airport and the road was a 2 lane highway. We made it there in about 15 minutes. We checked in and my reservation (through Marriott points) was accepted without any problems). The rooms were right beside each other and we had a common door to open that we could go back and forth. Each room had a patio and they looked out on nice grounds towards the pool. It was around 11:00 am and Jaime was arriving around 4:30 pm. It was very warm and we decided to spend the rest of the day at the pool. The grounds were nice and we found some lounges that were in the shade or near shade. We had some snacks and just enjoyed lounging around. Jess and I went to the airport and picked up Jaime and from the airport and we went to Carrfour Market, which is like a Super Walmart. We got some fruit, snacks, fruit, wine and beer. We came back to the hotel and made plans to go to Palma for dinner. The hotel which was owned by Marriott until April of 2013 was now operated by Iberostar, a European operation. We began to notice certain things, like no concierge service and running out of towels in both the pool area and when cleaning our rooms. Anyhow, we did get some ideas from the hotel staff of where to go and more importantly where to park. Made it down to Palma, about 15 miles from hotel, and promptly missed the entrance to the garage. We drove through some of the side streets, some are very narrow, and managed to make it back to the main road and found the parking garage entrance. Walking past the main Cathedral, The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, more commonly referred to as La Seu, is a Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral located in Palma, Majorca, Spain, built on the site of a pre-existing Arab mosque, we began walking some of the street. The setup was very European, but many of the businesses were closed. As we walked we were looking for a restaurant and we found one. We had to wait for about 30 minutes (wanted to eat outside) and were seated. The restaurant was located off the main streets and just had a comfortable feel (Casa Julio) and we enjoyed our dinner and relaxed. After dinner we walked around, looking for some gelato, but we did not find what we were looking for. We made our way back to the garage and walked along the river in front of the Cathedral and they were showing a film which attracted many residents.
Thursday, July 25th. This is the day that we are going to drive around a portion of the island. I saw a suggested drive in Frommers and we decided to try it. We left the hotel around 9:00 am heading west to Palma with the intentions of following the coastal road of MA 10. It was noted that it was slow winding road that brought us to Port d’Andratx. We ran into some end points, where we had to turn around and we drove by a beach area and some beautiful homes and residential area. As we headed into the town of Andratx, we saw a visitor center and found out that there was winery in the area. We got directions, and although it seemed like we would not find it, we persisted and did find the Bodegas Santa Catarina. We took a little self walk around the area and they did offer a wine tasting. We sat outside and they brought various wines to our picnic table and we got a cheese and deli platter for lunch which provided some relief from the drive (We did purchase a few bottles of their wine). After the winery stop, we headed back on MA 10, now heading northwest. I had read about a beach in a town called Port des Canonge and it took us about 2 hours to get there (only about 20 miles). The road was slow and windy and we made several stops for beautiful views. We did arrive at the cutoff for Port des Canonge and we took it. The road into this coastal village was very windy and it took about a ½ hour to get down. Initially, we parked in the village parking area, but we found there was parking near the beach and parked there. We went to the beach area (very pretty cove) and brought our towels to sit down. This was an unusual beach, as the traditional sandy beach, was in fact covered with what seemed like bark mulch. We stayed there about 2 hours, the water was fabulous, and temperature was above 90 degrees and it was the middle of the day. I walked back to the parking area where there was a little park with some benches and proceeded to fall asleep on one of the benches. They came and woke me up and we decided to get a late lunch (snack at one of the two restaurants) and walked back to Restaurant Can Mado. The seating area was up a level from the street and we had a great view back towards the cove. There were customers there and we just ordered some tapas, some beer and wine and just relaxed. At this point (around 5:00 pm), we decided to drive back to the hotel (we were able to take faster less windy roads back to the hotel). After we got back to the hotel, Jaime, Heidi and I decided to drive down to a beach on the South Eastern Coastal Area. Jess and Corey decided to stay at the hotel. It took us about an hour to get there and we were able to find parking on the street and walked down to the beach. We sat down on our towels and took a dip in the water (once again just walk into the water) and just enjoyed the area which was filled with people. Around 8:30 pm, we walked over to some giant boulder/rock area and watched the sunset. Drove back to the hotel and found Corey and Jess sitting in the interior veranda area of the hotel. They had a burger for dinner and I got a burger as well. I think Jaime might have gotten some salad.
Friday, July 26th – This was separation day. I played golf with Alberto who is the father of Jaime’s friend Carolina. He is a member of the Son Antem golf club which is located right on the hotel property we were staying on. He was a very good golfer and I had my challenges. It seemed every time I hit decent shot, I ended up in a bad location, like a sand trap. The course was very nice and as always very challenging. After golf, we had a drink at the golf club and he introduced me to Shandy (lemon flavored beer). Jaime was dropped off down at Palma and met up with Carolina while Heidi, Jess and Corey visited an art museum. When they came back we decided to go to Es Trinc beach area. We parked at beach area parking lot and we able to walk right down to the beach area. Found an area to sit in and once again enjoyed the beach and the water which is so refreshing and easy to get into. Received a text from Jaime to see if we can pick her up at Carolina’s parent’s home. We did find their home and they had a made reservation back in Palma, near the port, for dinner. We drove down there and parked and walked to the restaurant. It was good, although I think Heidi and girls liked it better than I did. We each got some kind of seafood dish, like paella and once again just enjoyed a relaxing evening.
Saturday, July 27th. We went around and around on what we should do. Finally, we saw paddle rafting activity down at a Platja de Palma. We were trying to stay off the beach in the middle of the day. We drive down and Jessica drops us off and Jaime and Corey sign up for the paddle rental and Heidi and I go to the beach. We decided to rent a couple of lounges under an umbrella. Jessica arrives at the beach area and we go in the water or sit on the lounge chairs and we do see Jaime and Corey paddling. They are out there for about an hour and then meet us back at the beach. We had seen an Olive farm and Olive Oil store at Campanet which is about an hour drive from Palma. It is located in the central part of the island and roads getting there are very good. The store says it is open on Saturday, but when we arrive it is closed. Anyhow, the manager (proprietor) agrees to open the store and we walk around in the store. I decide to sit down in the restaurant and they purchase some olive oil to bring home. We decide to eat lunch there (it has to be about 100 degrees) and we are sitting at an outside bench area under an umbrella. After lunch, we had back to the hotel as we were going to Carolina’s parent’s home for dinner. We head over there around 5:00 pm and after going up to their home and meeting her mother and father, we head on down to the pool. We lounged around the pool area and we meet and are joined by her sister and we are just enjoying the pool area. Around 7:00 pm, we head back into the home where we change. Their home is in apartment style building (condo’s) and it is a 4 bedroom and a very nice and comfortable setup and is located on the floor (4th floor) of this building. Outside of the family room, they have a lovely patio style deck. The view to the port and the city of Palma is just priceless. We have a great dinner and just enjoy talking with the Carolina and her family (they all speak English very well). Carolina helped us purchase tickets for the La Sagrada Familia as we find that this provides immediate and instant access into the church at a predetermined time frame. Around 10:00 pm, we head back to the hotel.
Sunday July 28th. Jaime is heading home and I drive her to the airport for her flight which was leaving about 9:00 am. I head back to the hotel as we have decided to drive to the northwest part of the Mallorca Island. We drive like we are heading to the Campanet (Olive Oil Store) and we veer onto a highway to Pollenca. We drive through the area and head to Bahia de Pollenca, a great beach that is somewhat cove protected. Getting there we head drive over a mountainous style road (curves and hair pin turns, but the road is well paved) and we get down to the parking area. We walk onto the beach and we rent a couple of chairs under the reed style umbrellas.
The water right in front of us was somewhat rocky, but Heidi, Jess and Corey walked down the beach a little ways and found a rock free area. It made getting in and out the water easier. Jess and Corey took some towels and walked back and sat near some trees to get some shade and we just relaxed under the umbrella on the chairs. I had my kindle and read for a while and napped off and on. We stayed there about 3 hours and decided to make our way over to waterfront area know as Port de Pollenca. We found a place to park and we strolled along the waterfront area that had restaurants, hotels and shops.
We decide on a restaurant, called Corb Mari and once again, just sitting outside by the water is relaxing and we just enjoy the scenery. Just enjoying our final day in Mallorca was really special. After strolling around and having a late lunch, we head back to the hotel. At the complex, we go back to our room change and decide to eat at the restaurant, La Finca that is located there at the Son Antem resort. We did not have reservation, but we got nice table and just enjoyed dining outside our last night in Mallorca.
Monday July 29th – I drive Jess to the airport for her flight back to Bonn and come back to the hotel. Our flight was at 10:30, so we had time to get ready. We drive back to the airport and turn in the rental car and get to the terminal. Our flight is an hour and we retrieve our bags and get a taxi to the hotel (Marriott Renanaissance) and we are there by noon time. We have tickets to enter the Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm. We immediately take off on the train to take us to a metro stop that is about 15 to 20-minute walk. As we walk along the street to Sagrada, we stop and have some lunch and relax for a few minutes. We arrive at Sagrada and walk right into the church. Unlike most churches that we have seen, this church is very contemporary. We spend about two hours walking and there is small museum in the lower level which focuses on the construction of this church. Upon completion of our visit, we walk back to the same metro stop and Heidi and Corey go into the fashion store Massimo Dutti, where they buy something. We finish up and head back to the hotel for one last swim at the pool on the 27th floor. We change and head off to Placa Espanya for our final dinner that evening, which was at Tapa Gaudi. Unfortunately, it was disappointing, but needless to say our trip was great.
Tuesday, July 30th – Our flight back home. We have our final breakfast at the hotel and head off to the airport. Everything goes smoothly as we head off to Munich and finally back to Boston. We arrive in Boston around 6:30 and get our bags, get a taxi to Corey’s and then Heidi and I get our car drive home. Great 10 days and wish we had more time.