Ferran Adrià‘s new restaurant(s)

Ferran Adrià and his brother Albert have opened a new tapas bar, 41 Degrees, in Barcelona, and by next month, they’ll open a restaurant next door called Tickets.

The Adrià brothers, Ferran and Albert, plan to open a sit-down tapas restaurant near by next month. It will be called Tickets, will cater for 50 diners at a time and will take reservations. Last year, Adrià announced that he would close El Bulli for two years. From 2014, the restaurant in the town of Roses, about 100 miles north of Barcelona, will reopen as a creative culinary foundation serving the odd meal for the lucky few.

Also noted in the article, El Bulli was losing £412,000 a year. This translates to roughly a lot of US dollars, and helps explain why it’s closing/reopening as something more of a culinary foundation. I’d heard it was losing, but didn’t know how much.

While we’re here, I have a couple other Adria articles I’d tabbed, but not linked to yet:

Here’s a 2003 NY Times Magazine article trumpeting Spain’s transcendence in the world of food.

Spain rising, France resting. The more attention I paid, the more I noticed everywhere this invidious comparison, between smug, stagnant France and innovative, daring Spain. It seemed, as Trotter suggested, a shift in the zeitgeist.

Profile of Adrià and El Bulli in Vanity Fair.

Book excerpt from The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food.

2006 profile from the New York Times, and 2007 profile from The Observer.

Those who want to live experiences cannot be cowards. We endeavor a cuisine for non-cowards.”

Ferran Adrià‘s new restaurant(s)

Free Barcelona, Spain Travel Guide

It took seven and a half months, but I’ve finally finished the review of our trip to Barcelona and Sitges, Spain in June, 2008. I started it as a review to make remembering our trip easier. As I was writing it up, I decided to make it more of a travel guide to hopefully convince you to go to Barcelona. It was an amazing trip.

There’s a lot of information in here. The guide is broken up into 10 chapters linked below with the highlights of the day for easy reference:
Day 1: Boston to Barcelona: Plaça de Catalunya
Day 2: More Walking: Santa Maria del Mar, Picasso Museum, Ciutadella, Euskal Etxea
Day 3: Gaudi and Eating: Casa Milà
Day 4: More Gaudi: Parc Guell, Sagrada Família
Day 5: Sitges and Birthdays: Barcelona Cathedral, Parrots Hotel, The Beach House
Day 6: Sitges and Beach
Day 7: Sitges and Montserrat: Montserrat
Day 8: Sitges
Day 9: Too Hot to Shop: Aparthotel Calabria, La Boqueria, Tapaç 24
Day 10: Montjuic: Montjuic

Barcelona is very beautiful. Parts are dirty and smelly, but those parts are serviced 24/7 by sanitation workers. I was struck by how most of the buildings look like they were from the 50s or 60s and wondered what makes the replacement cycle so much faster in cities like Boston. The city is eminently walkable, and the transportation system adds to the ease in getting around. If you like looking out over cities from heights, you’re in luck. There are at least 6 different tourist destinations that offer great views of the city.

Bottom line?
Where to stay: Hotel Regencia Colon – Perfectly situated and affordably priced.
Must visit landmaks: Santa Maria del Mar, La Boqueria, Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, Montserrat, Sitges
Must eat: Tapaç 24, Euskal Etxea, Chocolateria Valor
Must shop: Kukuxumusu, Xocoa

For my mom, here’s a slideshow of our trip and a collection of videos from different points.

Also, please play around with this map I made of all the places we went to or should have gone to. I spent days before we went researching restaurants, hotels, landmarks and popping them onto this map to make it easy to figure out what to do in each neighborhood once we got there. The price of this travel guide is worth it just for this free map.

In closing, I hope you’ll go Barcelona because it’s awesome and you going will validate our decision to go. If you do go, I hope you find this Travel Guide helpful because would validate the time I put into it. Because after all, what’s a blog based Travel Guide if not an adventure in navel gazing?

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Free Barcelona, Spain Travel Guide

Boston Bikeshare?

Looks like Boston is taking baby steps towards joining Washington, DC,
Paris, Barcelona, etc, etc, etc in cities with a Bike Share program. The programs in Paris and Washington, DC are public/private partnerships that trade city-owned advertising space for bikes and administration of the program. In fact, the program in Paris looks like it will be a windfall for the corporate-side of the partnership, turning a profit within 2-3 years of investment. Cities should be careful not to give away the farm, apparently.

Yes, let’s do this. This sounds good.

(New York is also taking baby steps as well.)

Boston Bikeshare?

The Last Assassin by Barry Eisler

The Last Assassin starts in Barcelona, which was cool for me so soon after visiting there. Eisler steps away from the “Rain” pun title pattern, but only maybe because “Torrential Rain” and “Rain Clouds” and “Light Rain” and “Raining Cats and Dogs” don’t sound very tough. Also, I can’t remember from books 3 and 4, but The Last Assassin might be the first of the series to not be told exclusively from John Rain’s point of view, which gives you a better feel for the ladies.

The Last Assassin by Barry Eisler

Free Barcelona Travel Guide – Day 10: Montjuic

Thanks for clicking on the Free Barcelona Travel Guide. There are 10 chapters total, listed at the end of this post. Check out the introduction for more information.

Our last day. A couple days earlier, we had started feeling tired of being on vacation. I know, I know, that problem tops everyone’s list of “Nice Problems to Have”, but still. We had saved Montjuïc for today because it was a Sunday and we didn’t think they’d close an entire mountain. It was sunny and hot, the African Heat J had read about earlier in the week had come. It was about 127 degrees (check my Celsius math) and sunny. Montjuic sits on the water looking over the city and giving the opposite view as Parc Guell and Tibidabo (presumably, we never went).

There’s a fort on the top of the mountain, which has been used several times throughout history to shell the city. Also, the Olympic stadium is up there, which must have made for a nice opening ceremony. There’s a bus that will take you from the bottom of Montjuic to the fort at the top. If you want to avoid a sunburn, please, dear reader, take the bus. I’m speaking from experience here, but, you know, do what you want. Also at the bottom is a fountain that if you go when it’s not a drought (which it was) and at night (which it wasn’t), you’ll see a fantastic light/fountain show. Anyway, we walked up and wished we hadn’t.

After taking some pictures at the Olympic stadium, we walked over to the botanical gardens to consider the high entry cost. It looked very nice and all, but we decided against it to continue our march to the top in the scorching heat (seriously, take the bus).

Castell de Montjuïc is a fairly standard 17th/18th Century Store fort, but what makes it so cool is the crazy port right below it. We thoroughly enjoyed the view, had a lunch of Cornettos, and decided to head down. I’ll take this opportunity to interrupt the travelogue and mention the sun and heat. Again.

As it was the end of the trip, we were trying to manage our Euros in such a way that we got on the plane heading to Boston with exactly no cash left. This had us in a bind when we wanted to take the cable car from the castle to the bottom of Montjuic and the only way to buy tickets was a machine that wasn’t accepting our credit or debit cards. The main problem with 17th/18th century castles, as we saw it, is the lack of ATMs. With only enough cash for one ticket and about 7 useless pieces of plastic between us, we continued marching down in the unrelenting “African Heat”. The reality of our foolishness was beginning to illustrate itself in the form of mild sunburns and I must beseech you, if you visit Montjuic, take the bus up and down.

We took a breather in The Jacint Verdaguer Gardens or “bulbous” gardens, which were not a replacement for the Botanical Gardens so much as lovely park to collapse in the shade and marshal energy for our continued march. A respite from the unrelenting assault of the sun. The park was dried by the drought, but had plenty of children playing and families picnicking.

Just below the bulbous garden was a street with a restaurant, metro buses, and information booths. We knew a funicular was supposed to be somewhere on this hill and thought the information booth would be able to tell us how far. Unfortunately… well, not to mince words, but the girl in the information booth didn’t know anything about the funicular and didn’t know where it was when we showed her the map. The funicular was literally 35 yards across the street. Finally the funicular came and took us off this Godforsaken hill. May we only return under somewhat cloudier conditions. Try not to miss the Fundació Joan Miró, I think we would have loved it if we had planned this morning better.

After alighting from the funicular, we decided to make one more wide loop of this eminently walkable city, hitting the Born and Barri Gotic again for memory, and for the first time exploring the Port area. The Port includes an extension of La Rambla called La Rambla del Mar, which is essentially a funky drawbridge. The drawbridge is a walking path separating the marina and a crazy futuristic mall. They let the boats out of the marina at regular intervals and try not to be stuck on one side or the other. It turns into bedlam as people keep moving towards their destination in that human trait that has them moving forward even as there is nowhere further to go. The mall is out on a mini-island and likely caters to cruise ships, but we were too tired to explore fully. If we had known about it earlier, we might have come here to do any shopping we had intended to do. As it was, we completely struck out on the Barcelona shopping experience. On our way home, we stopped ever so briefly at a Spanish flea market and confirmed that junk is junk no matter what language.

We heroically made it back to the hotel and rested up for dinner while reflecting on our trip. Just kidding. We were so devastated by the heat that I don’t even remember this couple of hours. Wanting to make one last trip to our favorite part of the city, La Placa de Maria del Mar, we decided to try dinner at Taller de Tapas

We got to Taller de Tapas around 9 and illustrated the point beautifully that the reason we hadn’t had waits at restaurants all week was because we were getting there before the late night dinner rush. We waited about 35 minutes, a wait that would have been much more pleasant if we hadn’t decided to wear our cranky pants. I liked this place… We got a pot roasty thing that was awesome, pan y tomate, patatas bravas, green beans that were delicious and then, since it was our last night and we hadn’t yet, gambas al ajillo. These weren’t very good, but overall, Taller de Tapas is a win. Try to sit across from the restaurant in the courtyard so you can be serenaded by the duo of singer and guitar player playing along to a boombox.

After dinner, we did one more spin around the Placa, getting gellato from the good gellato place (the smaller of the two) and happening upon a tiny shop with a TV just as Spain won a Eurocup match against Italy advancing to the quarter finals. All the way back to our hotel, there were shouts of joy, sky rockets and roman candles, and cars honking. It was a cinematic ending to the perfect vacation, just as this would be a cliched ending to the perfect Free Barcelona Travel Guide. If only we hadn’t had to fly home.

Waking up early the next day, we walked to the train station and got to the Barcelona airport a couple hours ahead of our flight. Spain’s amazing propensity for travel lines (as evidenced by customs on our first day) was again displayed in the check-in line I waited in without moving for an hour and fifteen minutes. There was some excitement when luggage was left unattended and someone told a guard. The missing person had been using their luggage to save a place in line. Tsk tsk tsk. We made it through in the nick of time only to land in Madrid and have our Madrid to Boston delayed SIX HOURS! I prefer to think of the above paragraph as the end of our trip and this travel day as the re-entry into the real world. Hope you enjoyed this guide and that you have fun in Barcelona!

There are 10 chapters in the Free Barcelona Travel Guide. I hope you find them useful.
Introduction
Day 1: Barcelona to Boston: Plaça de Catalunya
Day 2: More Walking: Santa Maria del Mar, Picasso Museum, Ciutadella, Euskal Etxea
Day 3: Gaudi and Eating: Casa Milà
Day 4: More Gaudi: Parc Guell, Sagrada Família
Day 5: Sitges and Birthdays: Barcelona Cathedral, Parrots Hotel, The Beach House
Day 6: Sitges and Beach
Day 7: Sitges and Montserrat: Montserrat
Day 8: Sitges
Day 9: Too Hot to Shop: Aparthotel Calabria, La Boqueria, Tapaç 24
Day 10: Montjuic: Montjuic

Map of where we went or wished we had.

Free Barcelona Travel Guide – Day 10: Montjuic