(AS SEEN IN EPISODE 106, “Rockstar Surprise in Catalunya,” EPISODE 107, “From the Sublime to the Surreal” AND EPISODE 110, “Gawking at Gaudí and Asturian Adventures”)
Catalunya is one of Spain’s most exciting, energetic autonomies. It has produced some of the most interesting and inventive architecture (Gaudí’s constructions are colorful, smile-inducing, inimitable structures), art (Picasso, Miró, and Dalí all worked and lived in Catalunya), and food (this is land of Ferran Adriá and his many disciples). It’s also where Claudia calls home. A creativity buzzes throughout the region: Barcelona’s La Boqueria market feels like a food carnival, the most conceptual dishes in the world are cooked in the quiet town of Roses, Dalí’s abandoned-theatre-turned-museum anchors the town of Figueres with a wild charm. Catalunya embodies the passion Spaniards are known for—it’s an area madly in love with life.
This is where Gwyneth and Mario brought Michael Stipe for incredible tapas. The patatas bravas were particularly great, as was the pineapple with lime zest and molasses. Overall, the BTE (Best Tapas Ever).
Practical Information: Calle Tamarit, 104, Barcelona, +34.934245231, www.barinopia.com
This is where Claudia tried brains for the first time (quite possibly the last time...)
Practical Information: Gran Vía Corts Catalanes, 442, Barcelona, +34.932893460, www.laclararestaurant.com
Mario and Claudia treated Michael Stipe to a breakfast of tripe, chickpeas, and octopus while visiting this Barcelona hotspot inside La Boqueria market.
Practical Information: Mercat La Boqueria, Barcelona, +34.933182017, www.boqueria.info
Mark and Claudia enjoyed simply prepared seafood in this local restaurant, which is a favorite of Chef Ferran Adriá’s.
Practical Information: Calle Sant Sebastiàn, 56, Roses, +34.972254003
Ferran Adrià’s pilgramage site—and worth it. It’s only open from April until September and reservations are accepted only on one day in October. Buena suerte (good luck).
Practical Information: Cala Montjoi, +34.972150457, www.elbulli.com
Carme Ruscalleda Sant Pau
Gwyneth and Mario visited Chef Carme and learned some of the secrets behind her three star Michelin restaurant.
Practical Information: Calle Nou, 10, Sant Pol de Mar, +34.937600662, www.ruscalleda.com
Mario and Claudia visited this restaurant where the excellent food proved that the chef, Nando, is on the rise.
Practical Information: Carretera de Sant Hilari, s/n, 08506 Calldetenes, +34 93 889 10 23, www.canjubany.com
A beautiful hotel at the end of Parc de Montjuïc. Gwyneth, Mario, Mark and Claudia enjoyed the comforts of this very modern, sleek hotel.
Practical Information: Plaza Carlos Ibáñez, 3, Barcelona, +34.932811600 www.ac-hotels.com
Just off Paseo de Gracia and steps away from Plaza Catalunya, this hotel sports a rooftop pool and a hipster vibe.
Practical Information: Calle Pau Claris, 150, Barcelona, +34.934876262, www.derbyhotels.es/page.php?id=461
Gran Derby Hotel
Located between Avenida Diagonal and The Sarriá district, this hotel also features a rooftop pool and a cool mix of old-and-new design.
Practical Information: Calle Loreto, 28, Barcelona, +34.934452544, www.derbyhotels.com/page.php?id=479
La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s surreal cathedral, still under consturtcion. Mario, Mark, and Claudia also spent plenty of time in Gaudí’s other spectacular spaces, including the Parc Güell
Practical Information: www.sagradafamilia.cat/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoni_Gaudí
The Salvador Dalí Museum, Mark and Claudia visited on their trip north of Barcelona.
Practical Information: www.salvador-dali.org/museus/figueres/en_index.html
La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famed market, where Mario and Claudia took Michael Stipe for breakfast and a taste of Barcelona spirit.
Practical Information: www.boqueria.info
La Rambla, Barcelona’s ‘main drag’ where you can buy anything from flowers to parakeets.
Practical Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Rambla,_Barcelona
Casa Ribera Ordeix, Vic’s cured pork palace where Mario and Claudia bonded over their porcine love.
Practical Information: Plaza Mártirs, 14, 08500, Vic
La Lonja de Sant Carles de la Rápita, the fish auction where Mark and Claudia learned all about the economics of the fishing world.
Practical Information: www.pescarapita.es/CAS/COFRADIA.ASP
Xiringuito, the restaurant ‘on stilts’ south of Tarragona, where Mark and Claudia enjoyed incredibly fresh seafood.
Practical Information: www.bahiamargroup.com/album/index.php?dir=./Xiringuito