We arrived at our hotel, Le Meridien Las Ramblas to check in to our room for one night. It was around 8:45 and our room was ready! Amazing as that never seems to happen. We also were upgraded to a corner suite due to Chris' Marriott Platinum Elite status with the use of one of his 5 annual "Suite Night Upgrades".
The suite was huge, with a guest bathroom, living room, bedroom, and the nicest bathroom I have ever had in a hotel.
We rested for a bit while we waited for our friends Joe and Ammie to arrive. They freshened up and we made our way outside for some fresh air to to have some lunch. Our first stop was the St Joseph Market right down the street from our hotel. This amazing open air market is filled with sights, sounds, and smells of Barcelona specialities like jamon, cheeses, seafood, fruits, and breads local to the area.
We settled up at a central bar and ordered some traditional tapas, patatas bravas, calamari, jamon croquettes, and pan con tomato. This was Joe and Ammie’s first true introduction to tapas and they enjoyed it. The beers and vino tinto were excellent as well. This sustenance would help us power through the jet lag.
Next, we walked down past the gothic cathedral and on to a traditional vermouth bar (Bodega La Palma). We ordered 4 vermut de la casa (vermouth of the house) and savored the aperitif. The tab came to 10 euro! Slightly less than $2.50 USD per drink with the current exchange rate. Now is the time to travel to the UK and to the EU! We then visited another local bar (La Plata) and had some house red wine and a local speciality, fried anchovies. Chris and Ammie enjoyed them for sure. The bill here was only 12 euro - and rember that in Spain, France and Italy tipping is never expected so the value is even greater!
It was back to the room for a bit of a siesta until dinner. Chris woke up from a short nap and walked back to the market to pick up 2 different Iberico hams for a taste test happy hour back in the room. He found a wine shop on the perimeter of the market and grabbed a bottle of Rioja for 8.50 euro. We called Joe and Ammie who came up to the room to have a drink and some jamon before our dinner at La Caracoles.
We headed out for dinner at La Caracoles. This restaurant was opened in the 1800s and in order to enter the dining room, you must walk through the kitchen (check out the video below!) We ordered sangria, snails (the house speciality) and another popular Spanish dish, Gambas al Ajillo which is shrimp in garlic oil. For our main course, three of us selected the charcoal roasted chicken but Ammie ordered calamari.
After filling our bellies and the nice evening walk back to the hotel, we were ready to return to our rooms to get some much needed sleep. I was very proud of what we accomplished and that we stayed awake until almost ten!
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.