So, here we are in Barcelona! I was expecting really hot weather since this was the end of July, but when we walked out of the airport, I was pleasantly surprised - not too hot! I had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel and then sightseeing for the next couple of days. Armando was there waiting for us, sign in hand. What a lovely sight after the crunch of EasyJet! Off to our hotel (Apsis Atrium Palace), and we unpacked.
First, let's talk about the hotel itself. A fairly small hotel (by US standards anyway) with 70 rooms, it had recently been completely renovated. The rooms were average size, bathrooms were modern, and there was Wi-fi access throughout the hotel. That was really nice! I had booked an internet rate of 99 Euro per day plus half-price buffet breakfast of 15 Euro per day - not too bad for a 4-star hotel. The location was great - 2 blocks north of the Placa Catalunya. The one strange thing about the rooms was that there were no drawers to unpack your clothes into, only a couple of shelves in the closet. Also, the halls and elevators were not air conditioned, just the rooms. Maybe that is a European thing!
El Corte Ingles (the Spanish department store) was just a couple of blocks from our hotel. I had read that their basement was a supermarket, so we headed over there to get some wine and soft drinks. Lots of wine choices, but we knew very little about what to get, so just picked some Riojas to try. Found out later that they also have a gourmet shop upstairs with the "really good stuff". Bill got a couple bottles of that before we left town.
By that time it was about 5 p.m. and we were really hungry. The front desk people had suggested two tapas places within walking distance, and we headed out to find one of them. It turned out to be Ciutat Comtal Cerveseria. What a good recommendation! We sat at the tapas bar so we could people-watch and let our server decide on the tapas. Had a bottle of Juve y Camps Reserva de Familia Brut Natural cava with the food. It was great! The funny thing, though, is that we got to the restaurant much too early! As we were leaving about 7, they were putting out a literal buffet of tapas where they charged you by the item. Much better idea, as you got to look at each item before you decided if you wanted it.