After the TBEX travel bloggers conference ended, I had a day and a bit in Barcelona. It started with a stay in the Park Hotel Barcelona, a boutique hotel across from the train station I would be needing the next night, Estacio de Franca.
I booked this hotel blind and solely because of the convenient location. Ha! I didn’t count on my own dazzling stupidity.
Although I had easily found the hotel on the map and a local travel writer told me it was just across from the station, it took me a long time and a lot of wasted steps to get there. Like about two miles of extra walking, with all my luggage, on a hot day. (Two miles equals about 350 kilometres, for those who don’t know the Imperial system.)
First, I confidently left the station and looked around. Saw no hotels.
Walked behind the station, where there is a park, but no hotels.
I walked away from the station toward an even more impressive park (after all, the “Park” in “Park Hotel” must mean something), past two hotels that weren’t it. Down an alley, up a street, across to the station again, and then away from it in the other direction, toward more hotels. I asked at one and got the Spanish equivalent of the Gallic shrug. At that point I sort of did an Elizabeth Smart, as in By Grand Central Station, I Sat Down and Wept, except for a few things: I was not getting over some horribly wrenching love affair, I was not in New York, and actually I didn’t feel like weeping, I just wanted to sit down. But apart from that I felt a close psychic bond with her.
Then, I gathered my strength and went forth. Like Magellan, I completed my circumnavigation but unlike him, I got no particular reward or fame for it.
What was the problem?
Well, the hotel does actually have a very prominent illuminated sign, and if only it had been dark, I would have seen it right away. The hotel’s main entrance is behind some sidewalk tables which provided very effective camouflage. And it was hot, I was tired, and I am sure my brain just wanted to go for a walk to wear off some of the calories of the TBEX days.
Don’t let my tale of woe discourage you. The hotel is less than 50 metres from the station. It is the closest hotel to the station. It is blindingly obvious, once you’ve seen it. I passed it at least five times.
In fact, the hotel was a treat. When I finally trudged into the reception area, looking like Medusa, the clerk immediately got me a nice bottle of water and gave me a chance to revive myself before checking in. That considerate gesture alone made a world of difference.
The room felt surprisingly spacious, mainly because it was so cleverly designed and decorated. It was cool, clean, comfortable, and had a large, modern bathroom with chic white fixtures. But I didn’t linger long in the hotel room, because Barcelona was out there calling me.
At some point I’m going to have to come clean and admit that I had ice cream yesterday, ice cream today, and ice cream tomorrow. Spanish ice cream is just soooo good. I consider it my reward for exploring the entire Estacio Franca precinct on foot.
Later, for dinner, I had tapas at 10’s, the hotel restaurant. My travel writer friend recommended it. Good tip! I only wish the dishes had come in single person sizes, because even one dish was filling, and two was a lot. I would have liked to try more than two things.
My first choice was patatas bravas – potato wedges – with an aioli foam, lovely. (Foam aioli is unusual. Typical aioli in my limited experience is like garlic salad dressing with a mayonnaise consistency.) After potatoes, some risotto, also a happy choice. And a beer. All good, and so nutritious too.
The Park Hotel is on a very busy street, and it’s not silent, but hey, if you want a quiet room, don’t pick a hotel across from a train station. I felt pleasantly in the swing of the city without having to make an effort, and the ordinary sounds of the night were welcome.
And, on top of that, I had a view of the pedestrian lane where people were strolling late into the night, just peacefully enjoying themselves. It was a holiday, and there were fireworks around 10 o’clock. I could hear them, but I couldn’t see them. I turned on the TV, and there they were, so I watched the screen and listened to the real thing outside.
Disclosure: I had this adventure on September 24, 2012. I paid full price for everything and registered as a normal guest, not as a travel writer, reviewer or blogger.