Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Where to stay in Barcelona

The other morning, before stepping into the shower, on impulse I reached out for those adorable complimentary bottles of Prija toiletries.
And within minutes, eyes closed under the soothing hot water, inhaling that intoxicating ginger aroma, I was back in Barcelona, in room 41 of the Musik boutique hotel.

I think it was sheer luck that we ended up there. In recent trips, Hubby chose our lodgings via Airbnb, for the most part. But this time, for no special reason, he looked at hotels. Not the big fat ones on main boulevards, but rather small ones on side streets. And so it was that he came across this quiet-looking hotel, with subdued decor and clean lines, infused with splashes of my favorite color. Yes, purple: go look at the hotel's website :-)

Still, it takes more than aesthetics to make a place comfortable. By the time we got there, we were rather knocked out from the journey, though a TLV-BCN flight is not a long one. We'd decided to get to the hotel by public transport. Barcelona public transport is excellent, once you get your bearings. But that first day, bus #46 from the airport dumped us at the spacious Placa d'Espanya,
and -- not knowing any better -- we took the Metro line #1, dragging our suitcases up and down flights of stairs, got off at Urquinaona, and got totally mixed up before realizing how close we were to our destination and walking down C. Saint Pere Mes Baix. There, at number 62, we saw the welcoming glass doors with the purple logo.

Sorry, that was a long digression.

We were welcomed by David and Daniel at the reception desk, which looked nothing like the formal-to-foreboding desks at big hotels. Everything was simple, relaxed and friendly. My amateurish photos of the room don't do it justice, but I'll upload one anyway, complete with our messy stuff on the desk, just so that you know how at-home we felt:

Breakfast is from 07:30 to 10:30, so we could sleep in if we so wished, or start our day early (in vacation terms) if we wanted to beat the crowds. The buffet was perfect, with something for everyone. I was rather unadventurous, sticking to pineapple, whole-wheat toast, butter, cheese, honey, and two big cups of coffee with hot milk. As I remembered correctly from our previous visits to Spain (1999, 2002, 2012), the coffee is usually delicious and strong; too strong for me, which is why I appreciate being able to add half a cup of hot milk to it.

Coffee, tea, milk, toaster, etc

Here are the buffet, coffee machine, etc:

A word about the colorful Carrer Saint Pere Mes Baix and similar pretty streets: When the shops are open, it is both eye-catching and pleasant to browse, not to mention extremely convenient. Whatever you need, it'll be just a few steps away. Be it a Supermercat, a Farmacia, shoes, bags, clothes, art, or souvenirs and knick-knacks.
However, siesta-time is a cherished tradition here, and from about 2 to 4 pm all shops close down. With heavy metal shutters. Which are often covered in drawings or painting ranging from coarse-looking graffiti to beautiful, imaginative art. So the first time we walked down this street, when everything was closed, we weren't quite sure whether we liked the environment, the atmosphere. But soon enough we felt quite at home. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't heed the usual travel warnings concerning pickpockets.

Last few words before you get distracted by WhatsApp or Facebook or a sudden yen for chocolate:
Obviously, there's lots more to say about Barcelona. But the point of this post was to tell you how much we enjoyed our week-long stay at the Musik hotel. The small staff was obviously hand-picked by a boss (Alina) who's a good judge of character. David, Daniel and Alessandro at the the front desk; Esmeralda who works the night shift; Mabel and Elvis in the dining room and other duties; Bogdan and Georgeana behind the scenes. Hats off and a warm thank-you to you all. Hope to see you again.

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