Barcelona – Saturday, 2 pm

Tapas, tapas, tapas.

Refreshingly charming to settle in at a café or tapas bar and not see a SINGLE laptop, cell phone or iPad in sight. In questioning the lack of texting/phone chatting on sidewalks and non-existent work equipment in public places, my guide exclaimed in his charming accented English: we are at lunch to dine and converse with our friends and family; we are not here working. America, pay attention, por favor.

Barcelona’s Best:

LOLITA Tapería Famed chef Joan Martínez, makes the comic Seinfeld Soup Nazi chef seem sweet and docile! The Tapas bar becomes a vermouthery on Saturday afternoon, which is the rage in Spain. Vermouth is a lunch staple and an easily acquired custom. Lunch is late which influences those daunting dinner hours!

Chef Martinez diligently sliced, grated and drizzled with a stern and serious expression. Clearly entranced with his cooking, he was not at all interested in my note taking or photo snapping as he passed by my perch at the bar. Generally, I meet chefs and/or wait staff and learn much about their cooking philosophy. My suitcase was stuffed with prized olive oils from renowned restaurants, gifted by several chef’s. Luckily, my fab guide, a foodie expert, walked me through the delectable delights. Vermouth, si!


To add to your list:

TICKETS BAR LA VIDA TAPA Ferran Adria’s brother. Frequently sold out, make reservations!

TEN’S Chef Jordi Cruz is linked with well-known ABaC restaurant

TAPAS 24 This chef has a lovely restaurant Michelin star – COMERÇ 24

BAR DEL PLA This chef has an excellent restaurant called PLA

Brilliant Guiding

Twelve days in Europe – spent partly on a cruise ship and a few touring days on each end in Rome and Barcelona, reaffirmed my strong principles that a guide can make or break a trip. A guide builds a relationship with a traveler and adds color, not just a local sharing their native history. All of our clients explore unknown lands with our hand-selected guides. We seek out the best guides, drivers and land team managers who represent and share our travel values.

Visiting six cities in 12 days, touring with my six guides and understanding their distinct style. A guide provides perspective, deep levels of information in museums and temples, and local neighborhoods. He or she is an expert, we can provide exclusive specific subject and art specialists, but we expect our city guides to have deep knowledge and resources. Sharing hidden shops brimming with vintage jewelry, hard to find local music, and on my recent delightful days in Barcelona, my most fabulous and charming guide shared the hot, but maybe not completely discovered by the media, tapas bars. Gaudi, Picasso, tapas, sombreros, olive oil and herb purveyors, he knew it all!

We spent a delicious afternoon in the smallest cheese shop in the narrow passageways of Gothic old town Barcelona. Owned by a charming Scottish woman, who only serves and sells artisan Spanish cheeses. A private tasting, we sipped sweet Vermouth, which is all the rage in Barcelona, and nibbled a platter of cheese delicacies.

Our favorite guide in Rome has authored the complete companion guide on Rome. An expert who walked my tootsies off across the ancient cobblestones, sharing: the city must be seen from the street as a local and an old citizen of Rome. He too knew an intimate place for a plate of garlic laced spaghetti vongole served with a smashing vista. A sense of humor, a gentle prod when I lagged behind, his 30 years in Rome make for an encyclopedic expert!

I love coming home from a trip with more than memories; travel should and generally does change us. Authentic experiences and authentic guiding – the perfect combination and essential to each Journey.

Everyone needs a touchstone story upon return. Barcelona stole my heart.