We got off to a somewhat rocky start in Barcelona. When we landed, we discovered that they’d left Gaurav’s bag (with all his belongings) and one of our car seats back in Nassau. We spent a while in lines trying to locate the bags (unsuccessfully) before taking a cab to our downtown hotel. When we arrived, we were informed that the maximum occupancy was 3, and we’d need an additional room for Ariana. This is uncommon in the US and had us perturbed but we eventually conceded, and proceeded to wait another hour for our room. Jet lagged, we tried to snag some zzz’s, awakening in the afternoon fairly famished. We strolled over to a restaurant Gaurav and I had visited 10 years ago, Tapas 24 for a perfect meal of sangria, bikini sandwich with truffle and cheese, and the pain de tomat, the best we’d ever had! Not long after we’d devoured this meal, I discovered that my phone had been damaged with water in the Bahamas and wasn’t going to make it. What a day!
The next morning started off better. Gaurav and I had managed to hustle our way into Disfrutar, ranked #5 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, created by a trio of chefs that had been trained by none other than El Bulli! The meal, which consisted of 28 courses of molecular gastronomy aimed to surprise and delight, definitely exceeded expectations. At the beginning of the meal (similar to restaurant Gaggan that we’d visited in Bangkok), customers are given a card with a variety of emotions that the meal might invoke, the restaurant keeping the actual menu a secret. Each course seemed to top the next but some of the standouts were the caviar xiao long bao, the “pasta” (made without any), the ribeye, and the foie gras topped with corn. Each desert was fantastic as well, the peppers being the most deceptive in their appearance as they actually had a rich chocolate flavor.
Much of the rest of our time in Barcelona was spent shopping for Gaurav’s clothes to replace his lost bags, getting me a new iPhone and getting over jet lag. The only saving grace was that we’d been to this Catalonian city before, so the FOMO factor was low. We did manage to stroll through the gothic quarter and the cathedral, and Casa Batlo, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. I was pleased to see that Ayaan still really enjoyed the large bubbles prevalent in most squares in European cities, and he begged to return the next day to play with the “bubble man”!
As soon as we left Barcelona in our rental car, things got a lot better. Less than an hours drive later, we arrived at Mastinell Hotel & Cava, which was a true delight. We lazed by the pool overlooking the vineyards with glasses of cava, followed by a sumptuous meal at their restaurant. That afternoon, we had a cava tour and tasting with a guide, Nico who really did a fantastic job at keeping the kids entertained and engaged. We were joined by a wonderful South African couple whom we quickly befriended while discussing our travel adventures. That evening, Gaurav and I went on a hike up to the mountains behind the hotel, and we all enjoyed another wonderful dinner at their restaurant. Mastinell and the wonderful staff certainly set the right mood for our trip ahead, and we all left thankful for the opportunity to have stayed there, wishing we could’ve lingered on longer.