Yesterday, I had lunch with a treasured friend - a globetrotting genius that I affectionately call Guapo (good looking). As it often does, the conversation turned to Barcelona and our academic year there long ago as high school juniors (thank you School Year Abroad!)
As awkward but adventurous 16 year olds, we roamed Catalunya's capital city from Mt. Tibidabo down to the end of Las Ramblas where it meets the sea and from the majestic boulevard of Paseo de Gracia to the narrow & winding streets of El Barrio Gótico. Sadly, I've only been back to Barcelona once since my study abroad experience and that breaks my heart. Yet, I am confident that I will make it back to Barcelona one day. And, perhaps even revisit it at some point with Guapo by my side eating Xuxos (an addictive sugary custard-filled pastry). Until then, it's never too soon to start thinking about where to stay, what to wear, and what to sip when I get there!
ABaC Restaurant & Hotel
Offering only 15 luxurious rooms and suites, ABaC is located in the northern part of Barcelona in the swanky Sarriá-Sant Gervasi neighborhood - not far from where I lived as a student. Led by Chef Jordi Cruz, the hotel restaurant boasts 2 Michelin stars and was selected as the Best Restaurant of 2011 by the Catalan Academy of Gastronomy. The hotel amenities include a Zen garden and a spa offering treatments by Elemis Spa Therapy. ABaC has been included on the Condé Nast Traveler Hot List and was a runner up for Best Spa Hotel 2011 at the Boutique Hotel Awards.
EAGLE NEWSNING dress ($115)
by Custo Barcelona
Ok, maybe choosing a Custo Barcelona dress is a tad obvious but the label was started by Barcelona bred brothers Custo and David Dalmau, so why not! Custo Barcelona clothes are on the edgier side of what I normally wear but I think this psychedelic black & white frock is perfect for a playful night out in Barcelona.
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut ($12)
I would absolutely toast my return to Barcelona with a chilled glass of Freixenet cava. Yes, I know there are trendier drinks on the scene but this was the sparkling white wine that I sipped on New Year's Eve with my host family - I can even picture and hear the commercial with handsome tenor José Carreras (remember The Three Tenors?). Freixenet was founded in 1861 in rural Catalunya and their sparkling wines are world famous. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut was rated an impressive 87 points by Wine Spectator who praised its subtle juiciness and finesse.
PS. If you plan on visiting Barcelona, it is important to know that there are two official languages, Catalan and Spanish, so don't be surprised if you are greeted with "Bon Dia" instead of "Buenos Días." Most people are bilingual so you will be able to communicate in Spanish but a few words of Catalan may win you some fans!