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An Eating Trip to Spain: Arzak, Etxebarri, Lufthansa 747-8 J, Swiss A220 Y / 777 J

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  • #31
    Cabin ambience on this A321 was ok...about par for the course on any A32x series aircraft...



    I was keen to see how the cabin of the Airbus A220 on my MAD-ZRH sector on Swiss in 2 weeks time would compare, but that would have to wait till later...

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    • #32
      Wonderful views of Barcelona's El Prat Airport as we made our approach...



      On the ground in Barcelona...



      A last look at D-AIST...



      After deplaning it was a long walk to the baggage claim. We had airtagged all our luggage, so even before we arrived at the date, we knew that all our luggage had made it, despite the tight connection.

      As FRA-BCN was an intra-EU flight, there were no additional passport checks, although all luggage was subject to random screening as the baggage claim was common with arriving international flights.

      Thoughts on connecting to BCN via FRA...

      I was quite pleased with how our transit and onward connection experience via FRA was. Among my friends and fellow travellers, many of them prefer smaller hubs, such as MUC, but for large hubs, I am quite fond of transiting through FRA. I am familiar with the airport, and while walking distances are long, most times connections are doable, and at least on this flight LH made sure our luggage made it too. I was grateful that there was no additional security check in FRA for connecting pax -- that would have been a hassle. I wouldn't have minded a longer transit stop even -- that would give me the opportunity to visit the LH Senator Lounges in FRA, which are quite excellent lounges.

      Next up, Barcelona!

      To be continued!

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      • #33
        Continuing with the TR, we caught a taxi from BCN airport to our hotel in the city, the H10 Madison.

        Marriott Bonvoy had an attractive promo running during the month we were in Spain, and many of our hotels I picked were Marriott properties, but I only did this when rates made sense. In Barcelona, they did not: rates at the Le Meridien, along Las Ramblas, were very high, and rates at the W (A hotel I have always wanted to stay in) were insanely high. So I picked the H10 Madison instead, based on very positive TripAdvisor reviews, and I was not disappointed: The H10 Madison was an excellent property.

        The Madison was a 4 star property, very centrally located in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, less than 1km from Las Ramblas.



        The hotel's rooms and decor looked brand new, and very stylish.

        The public area and lobby was not large, but very elegantly styled.



        Our room was on the 5th floor...



        This was a beautiful room...



        There were 3 of us, so the sofa bed in the room had been extended into a large bed.



        Complimentary local pastries on the table...



        Our room had a full length window...



        ...which opened out onto a small balcony...



        ...which had nice views of the surrounding area.


        Last edited by yflyer; 1 April 2023, 10:42 PM.

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        • #34
          Complimentary Nespresso (Compatible) coffee, tea and bottled water...



          Wardrobe with in-room safe...



          Ample power sockets (European plugs) and in-wall USB sockets.



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          • #35
            Gorgeous bathrooms...



            Large sink and high quality towels and toiletries...



            Standalone shower stall...



            Bathrobes and slippers...

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            • #36
              There was a restaurant on the ground floor...



              ...as well as a rooftop bar/restaurant...



              ...and small rooftop pool...



              ...with great views of the nearby Cathedral of Barcelona (Note: This is not Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, which was also visible from the rooftop, but some distance away)...



              This was an excellent hotel, with great staff that matched the wonderful rooms and facilities -- highly recommended!

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              • #37
                Our room was ready when we arrived at our hotel at 10.30am, so we were able to drop off our bags in the room and freshen up before heading out to explore Barcelona.

                The 700m walk from the hotel to Las Ramblas took less than 10 minutes...



                It was nice to be back in Barcelona! Our first stop was Boqueria Market for lunch. The place was packed with visitors...



                Part of the market was closed for refurbishment, but the market was still buzzing with activity...



                The displays of seafood and other foods, such as delicious jamon Iberico, were as mouthwatering as they were on my past visits...



                Huge cuts of beef shared space with all manner of sausages, including super tasty morcilla, or blood sausage...



                Apart from raw hunks of steak, there were very delicious looking cuts of roasted/grilled meat as well...



                By that point, we were quite hungry, having last eaten on the plane before landing. We found an eatery, Bar Boqueria, with several empty seats and immediately sat down for lunch...



                We ordered several shared plates and dug in...

                The hot and crisp fried anchovies hit the spot...



                ...as did the razor clams...



                ..and egg...



                The showstopper dish was the beef tartar, served with bone marrow on the bone...



                We returned to Boqueria Market for breakfast the next morning as well. We headed to Pinotxo Bar, our old favourite breakfast place, where we hoped to meet the warm and cheerful owner, Mr Juanito Bayen again, but sadly, just earlier this year, he had sold the business, and was no longer there.



                With Mr Bayen's departure, I think a little bit of the magic of Boqueria Market has gone with him, but we will always have happy memories of our breakfast at this counter back in 2016.

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                • #38
                  We headed to Gaudi's Sagrada Famila next...



                  Mrs yflyer and I had visited the last time she was in Barcelona, but this was Miss yflyer no.2's first time, and she was blown away...



                  What an incredible place...



                  We spent a long time in the Sagrada Familia, following the audio guide, which did a great job of explaining the history of the Sagrada Familia, and what Gaudi and his co-collaborators, who are continuing his work to this day, were aiming to accomplish...


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                  • #39
                    Next, we headed to Bar Paradiso, recently ranked No.1 on the World's 50 Best Bars list...



                    This bar did not take reservations. They opened at 4pm each day, and by the time we got to their door at 5.30pm there was a line outside (The "queue" was a virtual one, joined online, and notified via SMS/website when your turn came up). Folks waiting said the wait could be up to an hour, but that depended on the size of your party, and whether you wanted seats at the bar. We were quite lucky, and our turn came up fairly quickly.

                    This was a speakeasy-style bar...on the outside, it looked like a Pastrami shop. You entered, through the refrigerator door...



                    Once inside, it was a different world, and totally packed...



                    The vibe and decor were great...



                    We headed to our table in the main seating area, which had an Alice in Wonderland-type fantastical vibe...



                    ...which matched the cocktail concept here...



                    The cocktails here were elaborate flights of fancy...



                    ...some might quibble that these bordered on gimmicky...



                    ...but the quality of the drinks themselves, and the engaging staff, made all the difference.

                    One of their signature drinks was "The Cloud", a creation made of mezcal, hibiscus, Montenegro amaro, vermouth, birch syrup, Perrier and coffee cloud...





                    Serving this drink was more of a performance than anything else, and depending on the guests, could actually require audience participation...to "drink" the floating bubbles mid-flight!



                    Lots of fun...



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                    • #40
                      Other drinks included "Chronos", a concoction of tequila, mushrooms, spicy corn, sea buckthorn, aloe vera, cocoa, which came with a bite-sized snack that came in a rotating container that only exposed the snack once a minute...if you missed picking it up you would need to wait a whole minute till it came round again!



                      ...and Tesla, a cocktail that came with a real Tesla coil that caused the ionized noble gas within the glass to glow...



                      Mediterranean Treaure, a smoky creation of vodka, fine sherry macerated with oyster leaves, lemon, agave honey, cilantro and egg white...



                      There were snacks and small bites available on the menu as well...



                      All in all, we were very impressed by Paradiso. While quite over-the-top in many ways, the quality of the drinks themselves were never in doubt, and this place has certainly moved the goalposts in terms of what a cocktail bar could be. I could see why this place would have garnered rave reviews and the No.1 spot on the world's best bars list.

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                      • #41
                        We only spent one night in Barcelona. The next afternoon, we would be catching a train to San Sebastian, but we made full use of the time in Barcelona to show Miss yflyer no.2 around...

                        The next morning, we headed to the beach, where we walked from Port Olimpic towards the W...



                        "This is where I usually go running when I am in Barcelona", I told Miss yflyer no.2...

                        From there, we headed to Park GŁell...



                        ...to see more of Gaudi's work...



                        Everyone wants a picture with the salamander...



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                        • #42
                          For our final lunch in Barcelona, I headed back to Los Caracoles, where I had dined on my last trip here...



                          You entered through the bar...



                          ...then passed througfh the kitchen...



                          ...to get to the dining room...



                          We began with oysters...



                          ...but we were really here for the special snails...



                          I demonstrated to Mrs yflyer and Miss yflyer no.2 how these were eaten (with toothpicks)...



                          They were just as delicious as I remembered them to be! We polished them off...



                          ...and just in case we didn't quite get our fill of their house special, our next course was Arroz con Conejo y Caracoles, also known as Rabbit and Snail Rice...



                          Delicious!



                          We were on more familiar ground with dessert...Catalan-style creme caramel...

                          Last edited by yflyer; 12 April 2023, 10:47 AM.

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                          • #43
                            After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and catch a pre-booked taxi to the train station.

                            That day, 8 March, was International Women's Day, and there were peaceful marches/rallies in Barcelona that day.



                            The marches disrupted traffic to some extent, and had police escorts to manage traffic and crowds, but were largely good natured, and even good humoured.

                            There was a large crowd marking the event, in the square that was between the restaurant and our hotel. TIme was short, and we were in a hurry, so we decided just to cut right through the crowd to get to our hotel. No issue there, they let us pass right through. The atmosphere felt festive, even. Along the way, as she crossed the square, Mrs yflyer tripped and fell, and the folks in the crowd were very gracious in helping her up on her feet again...

                            Last edited by yflyer; 12 April 2023, 10:48 AM.

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                            • #44
                              We got to the main train station, Barcelona Sants, an hour before our 3.30pm direct train to San Sebastian.



                              This was a 5 hour 45 minute train journey, covering 634km, that would take us right across the length of Spain, from Barcelona on the Southern Coast, to San Sebastian, along the shores of the Bay of Biscay in the north. We would arrive in San Sebastian at 9.16pm in the evening.



                              This was a fairly comfortable train, with assigned seating...



                              I spent much of the train ride watching the scenery go by....



                              Around dinner time, I headed to the dining car to pick up some wine...



                              ...then headed back to our seats to enjoy a packed dinner -- comprising several takeaway items from Boqueria market: a beef empanada, and cold cuts of beef along with chorizo and morcilla sausage....



                              We arrived in San Sebastian on time.

                              This was a pretty seamless, and also quite cost-effective, way to get to San Sebastian from Barcelona.

                              From the train station, we caught a taxi to our hotel.
                              Last edited by yflyer; 12 April 2023, 10:49 AM.

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                              • #45
                                Our hotel was the Sercotel Europa, a 3 star property very centrally located in San Sebastian.



                                The lobby...



                                Our room was on the 2nd floor, conveniently accessible by stairs (Although a lift was also available)...



                                Tne room was tastefully decorated in shades of black and white...



                                This would be a comfortable place to spend the next 3 nights...



                                Large flat screen TV...



                                Two sinks in the bathroom...



                                WC and bidet...



                                Tub and shower...



                                Amenities, shampoo, and shower gel from Zen...



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