Ah Spain! It’s one of my favorite countries in the world! My hubby surprised me (for a milestone birthday) with a trip to Spain. A restaurant that we both love, Curate in Asheville, NC (Curate Restaurant) plans several trips a year to their homeland. Each trip is a bit different, but they explore a variety of foodie havens, wineries, cathedrals, etc. This is our very first trip we’ve taken where someone else has done all the planning, so I was super excited to just relax and enjoy it!! Be sure to sign up for Curate Trips email list if you’d like to see any of their future trip offerings, Curate Trips
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Flight and Arrival Experience:
If you’ve been following us since the beginning (and thank you if so!), Delta is our airline of choice and Atlanta is our home airport. They offer a strong product, and once you’ve attained status, it’s been a good experience. The flight over was on a 767-400, so not one of the brand new planes, but still was very nice. Comfortable, lie flat seats make a huge difference when you’re taking the red-eye to Europe and we saved our International upgrade certificates specifically for this trip; so we got a good deal to boot!
WEIGH your bags! Especially flying internationally- this gadget has helped us MANY times to rebalance suitcases to and from our destination.
We usually have a wonderful experience in the first class cabin, but this time, there were a few things with the food that should be improved. The starter plate was amazing, but both dinners were pretty bland and dry. The starter plate contained a wonderful tomato basil soup (with just a kick of spice), a wedge salad with creamy dill dressing and a melon/ricotta/prosciutto create (although the menu said it was apricots, it was not apricots).
The dinners, as I said, were SUPER dry. The Salmon dish was supposed to be “Bourbon glazed”, but there was zero glaze, it was just very, very dry salmon and hard to swallow. Hubby ordered the Chicken Milanese and said same thing- super, super dry. Again, difficult to complain when you’re in first class, but when you pay a few thousand dollars for the flight and the experience, you’d like to see this stepped up a bit. It’s interesting when I fly Delta from NYC to Europe, the meals are curated from local chefs using their recipes, etc. and much better tasting than what I’m experiencing out of Atlanta. As our hometown airline, I wish they’d be pickier in our town!
Our arrival into Barcelona (BCN) was uneventful; bags arrived on time and we went thru immigration with no issues. We were informed from the travel company, that our driver would be waiting just outside baggage claim and that there would be two other couples from our flight – all went well, we met our fellow travelers and we were transferred to the Gallery Hotel (Gallery Hotel Barcelona). Amazingly, our rooms were ready for us, so we were able to unpack, shower and rest a bit. Most of us arrived a day early so we could adjust to the timezone 🙂
You’re going to want this plug for your hotel room. It’s an ADAPTOR, not a CONVERTER, as our electronics all switch between 110/220v, so this was perfect!
We ventured out into Barcelona for a bit of a walk to deal with the jetlag, and ended up lunching near the La Rambla. There is nothing quite like people-watching and enjoying a bit of Spanish comfort food!
And Yes, I know that last one is American (Hamburguesa), but I needed those fries. Try out the rooftop terrace at this hotel- it’s a fantastic spot to soak up a few sun rays while you’re trying to stay awake!
The hotel was quite nice, you can read my review Gallery Hotel Yelp Review.
There was a beautiful courtyard right off the lobby restaurant area that served as our group meeting spot. We had a separate area roped off along the “wall of Jasmine” After an ‘orientation’ meeting and introductions to the rest of the group, we had a cool drink and went thru all the details of our trip with Paladar y tomar’s Valeska and Fernando. Paladar y tomar Please take a moment to check out their website- they offer unique travel experiences, and work with businesses and individuals alike. They were SUPER focused on every little detail, ensuring our entire trip went very smoothly. I cannot rave enough about the quality of this travel group.
Restaurants in Barcelona:
- Gallery Hotel Rooftop terrace – per above, yummy! This is a picture of the area- it’s pretty cool! Prices were reasonable, service was fantastic and we enjoyed this space a few times during our stay here. The video is ‘overflow’ space on the other side, if you’d prefer a little alone time 🙂
- Suculent : our first tapas experience was scheduled at Suculent, a well known tavern that was not too far a distance from our hotel. Yelp Review of Suculent
I will tell you that the Duck Meatballs were one my favorites from the entire trip– they were so savory. I also selected the strawberry dessert as one of the best of the trip. One small bite, but heavenly; isn’t that what tapas are all about?
- Foodietecha We had the opportunity to have a private ‘cooking experience” at La Foodieteca, a state of the art cooking school in a private kitchen. Outstanding experience watching cooking demonstrations for a variety of dishes and learning a bit about different methods of preparing the dishes. The squid ink pasta vermicelli was one of my favorites here- I know, I know, it doesn’t sound nor look very good, but you HAVE to taste this dish. It’s unbelievably savory and rich for a pasta dish; and once you review all the things we ate, for me to say it was the “top” is quite something. By the way, here is a similar dish in Curate’s cookbook- see links in the “prepare for trip” section if you’d like to order. Actually, quite a few of the dishes we ate have recipes in the book, so if you like Spanish style cooking, go for it! I know Foodietecha arranges private group classes, so if you are an event planner, or perhaps just want to join in with another group, reach out to them. Enjoy the pictures of not only the facility, but this lovely meal:
Things to see/do in Barcelona:
- La Rambla is about a 20 minute walk from the hotel; and when you’re trying to work off jetlag- it’s a great idea. We enjoyed strolling down the main avenue, peeking into shops and people watching on such a beautiful day. Everything is in bloom in May, so the flower shops had wonderful displays on the street corners- so gorgeous! We ended up at a small café with an afternoon cerveza and a pizza. Yes the beer glass was a two hander.
La Boqueria is one of the largest fresh markets in the world, and definitely should be on your “must see” list if you have a day in Barcelona.
Take a moment to study the map at the entrance as we’ve been told “all” markets are setup in a similar fashion (fish area, meat area, produce, etc.). The colors, the aromas, the sites of fresh Iberian Ham, every fish you can imagine and the most beautiful produce is enticing. There are also many places to stop and have a bite or taste a new wine as well, so bring your shopping bags and an empty stomach.
- Sagrada Familia One of the most iconic spots in the world and the cathedral is still not finished yet! We did a couple hour walking tour of the Sagrada, learned about Gaudi and were educated by a local guide/ private tour.
- Walking tour of the Gothic District: We spent about two hours on a private guided tour of the Gothic District, visiting a variety of Roman historic sites, huge city squares, and cathedrals. Well worth the time if you’d like to explore “old” Barcelona.
Mobility comments for entire trip:
- As in any European country, you do have to be careful for random steps that may or may not be marked. I highly suggest you wear flats or very comfortable shoes as many of the surfaces are uneven cobblestones or pavers that have shifted over years of use. Handrails were hit or miss at stairways as well. If someone in your group has gait issues, but sure to bring a cane, or a stool cane such as this one:
- We were transported around the majority of the time in super comfortable buses . We happened to have a very large bus the first few days; and it was nice as we had seat power if you needed to charge phones/electronics. Very comfortable transport, huge spaces for baggage and lots of assistance if you needed it.
- The botany tour on the seaside was quite a hike. We were super happy with the effort needed as it helped to work off lunch (!), but it’s quite rocky and hilly and you need good hiking shoes (or tennis shoes), so you can climb. It’s a stunning hike, so don’t miss it if at all possible. If you cannot handle the terrain, you can stay seaside by the beach and enjoy that experience while others hike. The sites are amazing- but here’s a glimpse of what to expect.
Other recommendations to prepare for this trip:
- If you do not have 220v appliances (hair dryer/ curling iron), I would highly suggest that you pre-purchase from Amazon OR buy them in Barcelona. As you will see from the next sections- the hotel hair dryers were not always really usable, and I’ve never had good luck using converters on small appliances such as these. It’s good to have them on hand anyway for your world travels. Then all you need are a set or adapters to adjust to the plugs. Here are a couple amazon links of what I travel with if it’s helpful:
- Travel power cube: I cannot recommend this gadget highly enough. Our computers and phones (iPhone and Surface) all adjust from 110 to 220, so they only need an adapter to work in Spain; this “cube” was fantastic for plugging in our phones, Apple watches and computers. As power plugs can be hard to find in European hotel rooms, this was AWESOME.
- Travel vest: If you travel much, you know how easy it is to misplace important documents and/or stop to rummage thru a bag to find a boarding pass, a passport, room key, etc. My hubby found this really nice “travel vest” that didn’t make him look like too much of a dork (😊), it was extremely light weight, and he knew exactly where everything was. I even had him carrying around my portable phone charger and cable. Here is a video demo of the vest:
- Luggage Scale: Most hotels do not provide scales, so this little gadget has saved our bacon a couple of times (including cruises). We try not to overpack, but we end up buying trinkets and gifts along the way, and well, bags get heavy. We were over on one bag, and under on another, so this allowed us to rebalance and check to be sure we were not going to get his with big airfare charges. Definitely worth the money for us!
- I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but I always carry my portable phone charger with me on every trip. I take a lot of pictures and post to Instagram and typically need to fully recharge my phone right after lunch. This takes my phone thru bedtime.
- I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook if you want to make anything close to what you see during this trip 🙂 There are quite a few recipes that are exactly what we ate during the trip (or pretty close to) that I have earmarked to try.
- If you are like us and you need a cup of coffee in order to function, consider purchasing some Nescafe instant coffee. You are fine in Barcelona as most hotels have a hot pot and instant coffee available in your room, and there are coffee shops that open pretty early, however, when you get out of the big cities, we did not have coffee in our rooms (Roses had a hot pot, but only tea); and most places do not open early for morning coffee (9a on average).
- If you get a bit motion sick while on a bus driving thru hairpin turns in the mountains (ahem, like ME), consider bringing day time Dramamine.
Bus transport from Barcelona to Roses was beautiful. Yes, it was just a bus ride, but if you’re like us, we’ve only had time in the big cities, so to be able to venture out into the country was a treat. The ride itself was about an hour and a half, so there was a bit of time to sleep off a bit more jetlag, but we enjoyed the beautiful countryside views along the way.
Hotel in Roses, Spain:
- Hotel La Terraza This hotel was one of our favorite of the trip. Location, location, location!! Right on the sea and absolutely stunning views if you have a sea front view room. Everything was light and bright and “happy”. Check out the room video and pics:
We were here two nights.
Restaurants in Roses and nearby areas:
- We had a private lunch setup in a fishing shelter along the sea. The pictures do not do justice to the beauty of this place, or how special it was to have a local Fisherman, Andreu, cook for us. We also learned how you’re supposed to drink Cava (Spain’s version of Champagne)! Andreu made the most amazing lobster paella, in addition to a few other tapas style dishes (like seafood stew). This isn’t really a ‘restaurant’, but my guess is there are experiences on tripadvisor where you could participate in a similar type tour- or contact (Paladar y tomar Travel Specialists) for the next Curate trip!
- Rafas (Rafas Yelp Review): Our first dinner in Roses was at a locally owned establishment, Rafas. We were further educated on ‘tapas’ style meals made right in front of us by Rafa himself! Note to self, squid ink gets everywhere if you aren’t careful; but it’s SO yummy. Eat it in one bite is my recommendation and you’ll love it. Here was our full menu:Also, Felix and team did an amazing job of pairing many different Spanish wines and ports over the course of the trip and this was just the beginning. I fell in love with the Ratafia “almond” type port- so sweet and a very nice finish to this meal.
- Castell de Perelada restaurant: Castell de Perelada This restaurant was just awarded their first Michelin star, so you should find time to visit here as well. The tour of the castle and winery precluded a fantastic lunch in a private room for our group The service was impeccable and the food outstanding
Be sure to take some time for a stroll around the lake to enjoy the swans before you leave.
- Hotel La Terraza Restaurant: The hotel itself has a dining room that serves the patrons breakfast, but also modifies to dinner service in the evening. Although we weren’t really all that hungry yet (!), we were served quite a tasty meal with wine pairings.
If you’re in the area, definitely would recommend this restaurant as well.
Things to do around Roses, Spain:
- We had one “special” side trip on this tour to go and see a new concept from the former Elbulli team. We all had to agree not to share any pictures or info, so, if you get to this area, but sure to look up Elbulli to see if their new concept is ready for public consumption in Roes. And I will leave it at that. 😊
- The Promenade in Roses along the beach is absolutely wonderful. There are paths for biking/jogging/walking, TONS of restaurants and the beach is beautiful. Take a look at these views
- The hotel pool and sun area is also quite comfortable. The weather was absolutely perfect while we were here, although cool in the morning and evening, the daytime was perfect for a rest on a sunbed.
- I know the hotel has a renowned spa, but we simply did not have time- but be sure to check out their web page and pre-arrange if this is of interest.
- Dali Museum (in Figueres) Salvador Dali Museum: We spent a morning here as it was only 30 minutes or so from Roses. I had not spent any time learning about Dali, so this would never have been on my radar as “something to do”; so I am so glad this was part of this creative itinerary built by the Palandar y tomar team and Curate. We were met by a private guide who did an amazing job explaining the history, the narcissism and a bit about how Dali’s mind worked. It was fascinating and this isn’t like any other museum you’ll find! Check out some of the hidden (and strange) effects he was able to impart into his art work. This is definitely worth a trip.
- Castell de Perelada winery Castell de Perelada: This was a short distance from the Dali museum, so we were transferred here by bus to enjoy a tour of the winery and castle. The wine tasting was one of the most idyllic I’d had in my life. We actually went to the vineyard and sat on a hillside picnic table to do our tasting. You can imagine the breezes that were blowing the how very still and quiet the countryside was so you could fully immerse yourself into the wine story of this vineyard and the Malaveina (angry woman). We were even treated to Jamon & Cheese sandwiches to complement the tasting. This was a very special trip!
- Next we went into town to the castle itself and had a private tour/walkthrough of this gorgeous castle. Take a peek at the pictures; the family cathedral in this castle was stunningly beautiful and the library was significant.
- Botany tour: Next up was a trip out to the seaside to meet Evarist March, a local Botanist, who spent a few hours with us “foraging” for flowers and herbs and teaching us how to search for these special plants. Check out the pictures of flowers and herbs and some of the views from this hike. You could also just visit this spot for beach time as well- it was very quiet and several families were enjoying this gorgeous spring day on the beach.
- Flower and wine “tasting”: Now I am not sure you could ever book this on your own 😊, however, after our day of being educated on flowers; we had an event at the hotel that included Evarist again, and a sommelier, Carles, guided us thru a flower/wine pairing. It was an interesting experience to actually taste a flower bud (like Lantana) and then sip specific wines to see how they affected your palate. Enjoy the pics!
Cadaques ended up being my absolute favorite gem of the entire trip. Although we did not stay here (it was about a 45 min bus ride through mountainous terrain from Roses), this spot is definitely on our list of “let’s stay here for a month or two someday”. We had a private tour guide when we arrived to become acclimated to the area; he pointed out Salvador Dali’s house and guided us thru the layout of the city and then walked us to city center by the seaside. We had time to go to the cathedral if we wished, or to take time to explore on our own, shop and enjoy this wonderful little town.
Restaurant in Cadaques:
- Compartir Compartir in Cadaques Spain. This restaurant was our favorite of the trip; the dishes were not only gorgeous, but some of the tastiest on the trip; the ambience of the restaurant (outdoor) was lovely and the service was fantastic. The egg/cheese/bacon dish was one of my favorite of the trip as well. This was a very popular spot with the locals too- so plan ahead if you want to visit.
And this concludes the first “half” of our amazing Spain tour! Part 2, we will be moving to Sevilla area of Spain. Stay tuned for part 2 post and thanks for enjoying with us!