Parc de Montjuic is more of district than an actual park, although there’s a lot of park-like terrain in the district. It has played a central role in major events in Barcelona, especially the 1929 International Exposition and the 1992 Summer Olympics.
We had a simple breakfast in the apartment, including yogurt, ham and soft-boiled eggs, and headed out a little after 10am. We caught the metro (subway) just outside our apartment and took that for several stops, then walked a bit through a nice neighborhood. As we were approaching our first stop, the National Museum of Art, I was focused on this statue in the middle of his intersection (which I deleted the picture of because I couldn’t get a good shot), and when I looked up I gasped. Dan was like “I was wondering when you were going to notice.”
On the hill in front of us sat this amazingly beautiful building, with a series of fountains leading up to it easily the length of a football field, and it took me longer than it should have to realize that’s where we were going. The first layer of fountains weren’t turned on so we skipped those for picture taking. As we kept moving up we kept going “wow” – we agreed this is the best fountain presentation we’ve seen. And the sound was incredible.
God knows what I was saying but I decided to have a sense of humor and leave it in.
This building was originally constructed in 1929 for the International Exposition; it has been the National Museum of art since 1934.
The view looking back.
This museum has the largest collection of Romanesque art in the world, much of it discovered in the surrounding area, all of it dating back to 1100-1300 or so. They specialize in restoring art from pieces of churches and monasteries and putting them back together into their original layout. Room after room of stuff that looks a lot like this.
Religious art from this period is usually not our thing, but both of us independently took a picture of this so we must’ve liked it! It was massive – like 14×16 feet.
This building had an auditorium. There was a high school orchestra setting up and practicing for a performance they would be giving later in the evening. We sat and listened to them practice for awhile. The acoustics were incredible. I snapped a photo of Dan as he was preparing to take one of his own.
This is the one he took from that spot.
This is a mural by Joan Miro, another artistic son of Barcelona and a mostly-contemporary of Picasso; 8-10 years apart in age as I recall. We visited a museum dedicated to his work later in the day but that museum wouldn’t let you take any pictures.
The dome of the palace; Dan pretty much just looked up from where he was standing when he took the Joan Miro picture just above.
Creepy but we liked it.
There was a rooftop trail that gave you 360 degree views of the city if you walked around it.
Another shot that requires a sense of humor: Dan kept saying “make sure your eyes are open!” No Way that was going to happen with the sun shining Directly into them.
If you look closely you can see the Mediterranean Sea in the background….
After much discussion we decided to have lunch here. They had a one price Tapas tasting menu so we did that of course. This was the appetizer selection, from left to right starting at 12:00: a very simple but incredibly good calamari, an eggplant something on crispy bread, potatoes similar to the ones we had last night sans the spicy sauce, really good sausage, a tuna salad of sorts, some Iberian ham on a toasted pastry.
The main dish was seafood paella again; I thought it was better than the one we had yesterday, more saucier. It had mussels, just not the shells.
The dessert was Catalan Cream, sort of like creme brulee but not exactly. I may like it better. (And creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts so that’s saying something.) It was more custardy and just a hint of that burnt sugar, nothing you had to break through.
This was our view.
We spent easily 4 hours in the museum total, probably closer to 4.5. Next we walked 15-20 minutes to the last museum we would use the pass for: the Joan Miro Foundation. You saw one piece from the earlier museum, the mural. This museum was 90% his work and it was all modern, and you know how we feel about that :) (Assuming you read yesterday’s entry!) So we didn’t stay that long. That museum didn’t allow pictures, so Dan took this on our way out, which was at the entrance.
Next we took a “funicular” ride (think gondola) up the Castle Montjuic. Here are some photos on the way up.
This was the castle. We had no intention of going in, we just wanted the views in the walk back down.
We walked a good mile and then took the subway the rest of the way. We were back at the apartment by about 6pm. That would give us plenty of time to rest a bit. For dinner, we made reservations for 8:30pm – the earliest we could get them! This would be our one very nice jackets-required kinda dinner while we were here. We packed’em, we were going to make sure they got used!
So the rest of these pics are for the foodies out there. Dan has done this several times before, but this was my first: a nine course tasting menu for a set price per person. So you know what’s coming, but you don’t get to pick. It was a fun way to try things I may not have tried before. Just about all of it was pretty amazing, some better than others. The restaurant was called Hisop, a very small place practically down an alley. Very simple decor and beyond attentive service. Dan was very good about reminding me to take photos before I dug into something.
Burnt white asparagus with lime and tea on an aioli, served cold. An interesting way to start. I’ve seen white asparagus every time I’ve been in Europe now but never got around to eating it. It was good, milder than what we’re used to.
Artichokes omelet with salmon roe (eggs) and sherry; the mousse stuff on top burned at the table with one of those torch thingys. This was the only miss for both of us. I wouldn’t eat it again.
Chanterelles with thai curry and cockles (clams). This was just about my favorite and was in Dan’s top 3. I’m normally not a big clam person but these worked. The sauce had some spicy coconut thing going on with lime, and the snow peas added great texture. Up until the very end, it remained my favorite thing the rest of the meal.
Vilanova prawn with chocolate. The chocolate are those little dark things, dissolved in your mouth. This was Dan’s favorite thing, I didn’t care for it too much.
Grilled torbut (fish) with tomatoes and oyster sorbet. This grew on me. The oyster sorbet by itself was a bit much, but with the tomato and the clean taste of the white fish it worked.
Oxtail with almonds and fennel. It was definitely in my top half – hard to know how to count dessert, which will make more sense later. If you count dessert as 1 thing, this was #3 for me.
A cheese course that, starting on the left, got progressively more mild. That red rectangle thing on the left is a jelly to use as a palate cleanser. The only one I didn’t like really was the 2nd one on the right, because I don’t like goat cheese; it was Dan’s favorite.
Lychee ice cream, lemon ice, and fresh mangos. It was shocking how good this was. The only possible word you can use to describe this is “refreshing.” (And not in a cucumber kimchi sort of way…a joke only Dan will understand…)
Fresh strawberries in a syrup, strawberry sorbet on a black olive cake, and pepper foam. Wow. This was amazing. We were both like “hmm, how bad is it to say the dessert was our favorite thing? and then which do you pick?” They were both great.
Yes, I know you know what espresso looks like, but this was part of it so I included it. I almost didn’t get it because at this point it was 10:30pm, but I was yawning a bunch and knew I’d want to stay up tonight to put the blog together. It did it’s job. (It’s approaching 2am now…)
This was a surprise at the end: a chocolate truffle, candied carrot, and pickle. The chocolate we ate last and holy cow, may have been the best bite of the evening. Very rich, very smooth.
So a funny story and then good night. There was this salt on the table in this tiny bowl so you could pinch your own dash as needed. It was a nice rock salt and tasted great. We asked the waiter if we could take some with us, just a very small amount in a piece of foil or something. We wanted it for our eggs in the morning in the apartment! The kitchen wasn’t stocked very well and had no food items of any kind, and we didn’t want to have to buy a bunch of stuff. This is what he comes back with. We both broke out laughing going “no, no we just wanted like a teaspoon.” He shrugs his shoulders like “this is what you’re getting.” When the gal brought the check (there were like 3 people waiting on us, including changing the silverware after every course), we told her what we wanted it for and we literally heard her laughing all the way to the back of the restaurant. Oh well, we’ll take it home with us and it will definitely get used!