Barcelona 2022 – novè dia

Our last day in Barcelona for this vacation was at hand. We still had two of the total ten planned rooms for today up, two other rooms as we originally had twelve in preparation were cancelled due to lack of GM availability. So what was left to see? A marvellous zoo, which I would recommend anyone to see, it felt organic and had a comfortable size for taking a good walk.

Afterwards we enjoyed artisanal xurros making and even more the taste of it afterwards. We made a bit of fun in front of the local “skiing” store and again went for an excellent lunch, before we focused on the two rooms in front of us.

The last two rooms were again heavier on the stories, first Ulysses Spaceship – which was very enjoyable, but felt to me (a bit) second in class compared to Galactic Pioneers in Prag, which delivered even more on team interaction. Nevertheless the story is great, don’t get me wrong, GP is a good room, a recommendable one, just not as good as the one in CZ for me.

And then we had the final room of our (scaled down) Weekend Busters 2022 vacation. Personally this one delivered on the story, has great elements of design and if you like dystopian settings and have come along Fallout in your gaming days, you will enjoy a lot of easter eggs in this. Here our GM was an intense partner and made the room shine – so Vault 27 ends up being the room ranked #3 in my personal BCN escape room rating (our of preselected 10).

After ten rooms, excellent food and drinks, many hours of laughing and honestly I think roughly 150.000-200.000 steps in roughly one week, we set out for the final location, watching the sun setting over BCN. For this trip we take a few drinks and snack-food along and watch the sun go down, with some unexpected live-DJ and dozens of students and sunset-addicts from across the globe it seems. The “bunker” is a great location to enjoy the last hours of the day, just make sure you have some drinks with you. Location: Turo de la rovira, the battery viewpoint.

Thus ends a great vacation. To friendship – to love – to enjoying the next one again as five (@Christoph I’m talking to you) in Athens 2023, perhaps? Barcelona definitely won a sweet spot in my heart and we will be back not too far in the future.

Adéu!

Barcelona 2022 – vuitè dia

Were we aware how intense this day will be? No, not by a long shot, but we had four rooms planned, so we started with a quick breakfast on our way to our first room. The location of the breakfast was reasonable, but the service rather unmotivated so I won’t name more details here…

A quick stroll around the area showed some lemon trees on a balcony, but the Santa Coloma de Gramenet offered a sober, rather honest perspective on Catalania. Not everything is bright here, but most people friendly and the escape games are some of the best we played – so far.

Cybercity 2049, already the outside delivers a bit on the promise, but you HAVE NO clue how much more is felt, seen, heard and even smelled on the inside. Our gamemaster made our day and my favorite room for the weekend buster’s 2022 BCN visit was found. It’s heavy on interaction, thrilling, challenging, incredible well-designed. The dystopian cyberpunk setting would make Gibson and Philip K. Dick as proud as it could be enjoyed by another one of my favorite authors Robert K. Morgan. This is the best room in BCN!

Not much time to spend between games, so we directly head into Ridley Scott’s Alien setting. Besides a quite injured leg (I suffer from that more than two weeks after BCN), the setting blows our minds. Nice riddles, good team-work – not as intense but also very present integration of a game-master. Great, another definite recommendation.

For what it’s worth we had to grab a bite after the second room. Well planned as we are, we have a 1982 Birres & Burgers – and as unlikely as it seemed, this one is my service recommendation of all we’ve seen in BCN. While they had excellent burgers and really enjoyable beers, the whole staff made everything work out for us, we considered ourselves even more in a rush than we were and – while they had full-house – we got our stuff within minutes. Superb quality, really reasonable prices and too good to miss out on it, if you like burgers.

With a indented shin we entered a world of mystery in Tomb Hunter : Akasha´s Legend. Our first female game-master and she also did a great job for us in the game. Similar to the previous two games this one also shines, dense story – all dimensions of movement, large location, intense on the experience – great on tombs and mysteries.

And while we’re starting to feel the day, we finish this afternoon with Abduction 3 – The Exam. A completely different game, different concept and another good experience. The Exam definitely loses in direct comparison, as the escape room delivers only a bit of story, has good riddles and mechanics but definitely lost us when we had to play some areas five times, because the translation was not working. Nevertheless another “physical” (jump, move, push, climb…) room that is a lot of fun and would be my go-to choice if I would setup a team-builing game in BCN.

What to do after four games? We consider all our options and after a quick refresher decide for the best option. We revisit our new favorite dinner place in Barcelona for a set of Sangrias, Jamon y Cheso!

Barcelona 2022 – setè dia

Relaxing. 2×2 days and games, we take the saturday for sight-seeing. The weather is perfect, as it really was for all days during our stay, we neither got wet not sunburn (with protection) and could use every day to walk through the city in the last week of May. So after a very-quick breakfast, we take the 1970ies cable-car to Montjuic, skip-the-line tickets were an absolute must. Even with them it took us at least an hour to get up there and we decided for the significantly quicker way down, taking the public transport underground rack-railway to head for a relaxed afternoon.

The views from up there are marvellous, since Christian suggested to skip the Fort on top – in favour of Julis abused feet, as she was starting with blisters from day one in BCN. We enjoyed the harbour, the BCN aquarium that was less impressive than the Zoo, but still okay to see, in my opinion the best Xurros/Churros of BCN vis-a-vis the entrance of it.

Later we enjoyed two excellent dinners – one at Orvay for great tapas and later that evening playing cards and eating ordered sushi – was had to revisit this tradition from our Bratislava trip – and we did not regret it.

Barcelona 2022 – Sisè dia

So, our seventh day already – but the second one for escape games and intense sightseeing. This morning we take a bit slower and arrive around 1100 with the bus for a fruity, intense and colorful brunch at Zenith. Our Highlight? The sangria. Our learning? Wow – how busy can a breakfast-location be, we should reserve a table if we are not too early (as we were). Definitely worth to give it a visit.

After a stroll in the area we look at the Casa Mila, locally better known as La pedrera. Another famous and enjoyable piece of Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona. Wow, this city really changes how I perceive buildings and architecture and it lectures me on the organic shapes and copies a lot from nature. Another favorite and must-see.

Close to our first ‘home’ we manage at Colleblanc market to grab a Nistera fruit and enjoy it before we get Kidnapped in BCN. The two made us laugh and scream at a really immersive game – again I will not spoiler, but this is what the title promises and a great experience with a lot of fun. As I tend to have a quite intense aversion against guns, I have to jump over my shadow a few times, but the game delivers.

Next we see Mr Garcia again, the tunnels is the second prison experience we share and again it rocks our socks off. In comparison to the first, we are a bit less challenged on the riddles but the game feels equally satisfying. Deep immersive action with a few very smart links in between and an end to behold. On the game we see Manuel (Mr. Garcia) on his almost last working day and have a blast, laughing and enjoying with the team of actors.

After the games, we use the excellent weather to take a ride towards the beach, for a quick tip into the water and spend the evening strolling around, the dinner was not really worth mentioning, but the company was great so I’ll skip only the details on the location. After all, another great day in Barcelona.

Barcelona 2022 – cinquè dia

Our fifth day in Barcelona starts with a good breakfast at Latocafe. Their El Nino Toast in combination with Mimosas ensures smiles, I have to admit the quality of the food was excellent, but they should reconsider “unlimited” Mimosas, while two of us picked right that deal, they were not only slow but also surprised on Austrian breakfast drinkers it seemed. Nevertheless the food was nothing short of splendid and spoiled us for the day.

Finally our first escape room experience, and we start at the cerveceria, unlocking a few secrets to brew a famous, forgotten beer. Well I will not spoil any of the adventures, but this one is definitely my second favorite room for Barcelona. Team-work intense, extremely story driven and so freaking authentic!

The second room of the day takes us to Mr Garcia. Prison guard Garcia, who delivers with his colleagues our first prison break of Barcelona with more to come.

Before the evening we marvel Sagrada Familia with a guided tour and are astonished by many facts and lovely light in the basilica. So my architectural interest has to meet something like Sagrada to think: wow, how inspired can an architect be? How incredible inspiring can a builing be? And how many stories are hidding in this, when our guide already talks 90min and is seemingly capable of delivering another two hours without stopping. This building is the must-see location in BCN and we will definitely come back to see it finished, hopefully in 2026 for Gaudi’s 100th death anniversary.

Dinner time, Restaurant F. I. S. H. fresh Italian sea harvest. And it delivered to the name, we enjoyed a bit of local white wine with tasty tuna, salmon, octopus, sea bass and enjoy a really good time with goods that tasted simply great. A good location to recommend for a nice evening. Crew, food – everything top.

Madrid 2022 (Barcelona day four) – día cuatro

Our quarters were superior to Barcelona by the looks but not acoustics, so after a rather rough night, we started slow and picked us a good bakery for a snack-breakfast. The “PI” was lovely in many ways, disappointed on the absence of any hearty snacks, but the store and people were so nice, we would come back just for that, did I mention the orange juice? That one was lovely!

Then we decided to head for the zoo. In the green outskirts, after a short walk the large area opens in front of you, walk left for lynx and wolves or right for flamingos and tigers… The construction is very heavy on concrete, but smart design allows us to get really close with some animals, like rhinos (behind a few wooden bars) and vultures (behind glass).

A definitive highlight for us to learn about (their sheer existence) were bearcats, cutely sleeping… The wide areal for giraffes, zebras and antilopes was also considerably but should remain a rather concrete heavy memory after seeing BCN later that week. The one I liked least were the wolves quarters, even smaller than the old ones in Vienna, the one reason I did not visit Vienna zoo for a long time, and I cannot image this size would be close to acceptable. The Madrid Zoo’s local aquarium was in my humble opinion rather uninspired and small but with a large (and for kids definitely ideal) Delphinarium next to it… Juli observed besides several school classes we were the only visitors, at roughly 22 degree and direct sun, blue sky and almost cloudless it could hardly get better.

We spend the rest of the afternoon with a quick lunch and strolling the streets for treats, our lunch treat we picked up at the “Oven Mozzarella Bar” – which worked out great and Juli’s supplement aka popsickles we had later at Loco polo.

As mentioned before, the photographically interesting IKONO we skipped this time, but I how if we get back to Madrid, we find time for it. Around 1720 our high speed train leaves the Spanish capitol and takes us back to the one of Catalunya. We shall meet Christian and Manuel there, Christoph for knocked off this morning by Corona herself. A smaller Weekend Busters delegation for BCN than planned, but we’ll try to have a good time nevertheless.

This time the train was significantly less comfortable, noisier and crowded – and still a great way to travel. Picking up the keys to our apartment for the last days in Barcelona was almost an escape room challenge. The sight of the rooms were very rewarding and we are really happy for the location next to Sagrada Familia. We decided after a short break to seek a local tapas place to try Quesa y Jamon. We picked the right place… Excellent sangria with an assortment of cheese and ham that was unexpectedly mind- or more likely taste bud blowing. What a great way to delve into cold tapas. Hasta los andares should become our favorite place in Barcelona for tapas. You’ll see our comeback with some more pictures that should explain why.

Madrid 2022 (Barcelona day three) – día tres

Short night, day bright? At least we leave when the rain comes and we have perfect travel conditions to Madrid!

The ride to Madrid Atocha at up to 302km/h is crazy fast and at the same time: smooth. The landscapes are rewarding and show a variety of hills, different geological cross sections as you perceive how they cut through everything to enable the rails here. A great journey experience, just the local understanding of Silencio is not very strict, so sleeping is not really possible without proper “equipment”.

Our plans for Madrid are easy, relax and see. We originally decide to make a Segway Tour and see IKONO on day one, for tomorrow the Zoo and Aquarium are on our fixed schedule. But our first stop is PLENTY, our breakfast stop. Not far from central Station just behind a few jardins, several nice breakfast spots are close by, we pick some very tasty and enjoyable toasted sourdough breads and are anxious for the Madrid experience which we will try to cover with a bird day pass to recover from yesterday’s steps a bit.

To avoid another 30.000 steps we decide to take a day’s pass for Bird (e-scooter) and curve through Madrid center from trainstation to “Real Palace” and back to the envigorating Retiro park. The later is probably my favorite place in all Madrid. Why? A glass palace in front of water sceneries, an in-city – park waterboat place or just the rose garden we graced from a far or the multitude of small architectural highlights everywhere. Simply a great place to enjoy.

I admit, I like musicals and when Juli suggested to see ‘El Rey léon’ it did not take long to check for some spare tickets and book them. Well, it was well spent. The sheer setting in the theatre was incredible, layers of jungle moving on artists’ heads and costumes that moved lion heads in front of the actors for Mufasa and Scar, not to mention many more details that brought the setting firmly to live. You enjoy it “even” when you do hardly understand a spoken or sung word. Definitely worth the experience.

And while we have neither done a “Segway tour” nor seen “Ikono”, the city is promising enough to come for another weekend in the future – then we’ll do Ikono – and maybe have a Segway tour, or enjoy more with a day-pass on the e-scooters here.

It was soo good!

Barcelona 2022 – segon dia

A good night of sleep is everything you need. Barcelona was calling, so we had to heed her call. It seems rather not worth to consider getting up early in a city where breakfast cafés open around 10:30. We jumped into the metro L9 to Marina and took a short walk to our breakfast location “Can Dende”. The culinary expectation was high, since it was a recommendation from our guide and it was not disappointed. Chai latte, excellent omlettes with green onions and fluffly pancakes delivered us the basis for our first 15.000 steps in Barcelona. On my next trip here I might focus on capturing all the magnificent street art that BCN offers. This time I’ve only caught a glimpse with my camera. And on our way from breakfast to the beach, we passed by an uncommon and interesting cemetary, worth seeing as well.

We were observing the steep sandy coastline and strolling it from Can Dende, with a quickstop at an ice-cream place, all the way to Las Golondrinas. That’s quite a few steps for a walk, even though we could enjoy the sand and ocean very much before we took an hour worth out on the ocean touring the wonderful port-scape of Barcelona.

We luckily were ensuring to be fit enough for the evening to come with my dear catalan colleague Alvaro and his wife Martha. Both would offer us a glimpse on the city from their own perspective and – it was soo worth it. Before we got dressed for the night, a quick stop at the MOOD rooftop bar “the one” left us happy with my first Mochito of Barcelona and Juli enjoying a special treat with special filled avocado rolls, the service was good when we arrived and I won’t complain too much about it, the view was reserved for hotel guests, so a bit overrated and -priced in my opinion.

 

A good hour later, after we got a bit refreshed and took a 30min break from the roughly 20.000 steps so far, we got ready to meet at Placa de Catalunya, a very easily accessible, central place, also the official start of “la rambla” the probably most famous street of all Catalania. A walk south on it showed a multitude of architectures, including also the well known market “Mercat de la Borqueria”, which on the street side is very touristy and also very pricy. The newly introduced fruit called Nispero was about thrice higher than her normal market price. Anyways the presentation along the market was worth the stay and I can only recommend visiting it. The beautiful artisan’s building with umbrellas and a dragon in the facade was just the beginning, as we went a bit further into, what I would consider hidden gems as normal tourist of Barcelona. Several musicians were playing the streets, some better some worse but the overall impression was a positive one. The streets are not too dirty, but it stings to see rather large amount of homeless people and the everpresent threat of a purse getting stolen is something you’re not used to as an Austrian, so keeping a close watch on valuables was several times in our heads.

Another highlight was our first real tapas, like – ever. Cal Pep convinced us that we have to try more of this. Their “seven course” tapas gives an excellent selection throughout local specialities (tomato-bread, octopus on potatoes, freshly fried squid, fish and gambas, tasty fried artichockes, savory green pepers, hearthy white beans and sausage with a sweet brown sauce, crunchy-crispy crocettes and omlette,…) besides the very attentive service it was simply a great place to be, enjoy the food and company. With another stroll back to Placa de Catalunya our evening ended and with almost 30.000 steps we might have started very strong into our vacation, worth every single one, as tomorrow we will leave Catalonia and enter the heart of spain, Madrid for a short stay, getting a glimpse of the capital.

Thank you so much for this evening!

Barcelona 2022 – primer dia

May 2022, after a strong pandemic time, it’s our first time “back out” for the better of a year. The memories of Florence are still present, especially on the food and heat, but this year’s anticipation of vacation was unprecedented. So we booked rather early, hoped the pandemic would follow the season like it did in 2021 and were glad when, about four weeks ago, we were first time out at a concert and club without wearing a mask for quite a while. Vacation was likely to happen and by the time I started this posting “yesterday”, we arrived safely in Barcelona.

The trip is rather unspectacular, 2,5 hours flight time from Vienna, Barcelona aeropuerto is large but did neither feel too crowded nor slow. Once you find the way to the metro, which tends to be a bit hidden, the route to our first “lodging” was easy and we arrived only 45min later. After an initial keypad (opening the door) and another keypad (releasing the key) we moved quickly in and out to enjoy our first evening out in Barcelona. We decided to investigate the immediate surroundings, a lot of “Blaugrana”. For all that are suffering similarly from not-knowing-what this is: Barcelona soccer fans, were on a pilgrimmage to their sanctum. We enjoyed the view and decided to get back to Collblanc for a bite. Very close by “De Angelis” was a place we passed earlier, that was (30min earlier) quite crowded. But on the second attempt we were immediately offered a nice space in front of the restaurant. Just a bite, remember? I wanted desperately to feel enough hunger to try the marvellously smelling Pizza here, but I could not stomach that much. So I ended up with an equally splendid and assumably healthy “tropical salat”, mixed green with strawberry, raspberry, mango, white cheese and a non-intrusive balsamico dressing. For me, already a highlight – even though it was not “local” but I am sure a local adaptation. Juli went for the house burrata, which was creamy and tasteful and left us both smiling. Next to the great food that led us to order a dessert, the service was outstanding. De Angelis for us was day 1 (night one) highlight to recommend for an area that seemed to us was not overly popular for its food.

So, after a good night of sleep, day two could come.

Kan/Mad: La Palma

Nach unserem Ausflug auf Lanzarote legen wir früh morgens in La Palma an, die Insel ist auf den ersten Blick deutlich grüner und wirkt: anders.

Wir haben heute keinen Landausflug “gebucht” sondern wollen auf eigene Faust die Hauptstadt erkunden. Nach dem achtstündigen Ausflug gestern und dem geplanten Besuch im Loro Parque morgen nutzen wir das gleichzeitig um ein gemütlicheres Tempo zu wählen. Also frühstücken und danach geht’s per pedes in die Stadt. Im Vortrag zu La Palma sind bei Juli die Highlights “Calle O’Daly”, der lokale Markt und die Balcones de la avenida Maritima hängengeblieben die allesamt unweit unserer Anlegestelle liegen – ideal für einen gemütlichen Spaziergang mit Kamera. Die Stadt ist deutlich farbenfroher als alles städtische was wir Lanzarote gesehen und durchquert haben.

Die Calle o’Daly liegt in einer Einkaufsstraße, uns fallen insbesondere die gepflegten, begrünten Balkone auf, Weihnachtssterne in Torbogenform vor dem Rathaus die in knalligem Rot erblühen.

Wie gesagt sehr farbenfroh und das soll auch auf der avenida Maritima sich nicht ändern. Am Ende dieser liegt eine originalgroße (nicht funktionale) Replik der Santa Maria und wir entscheiden uns von dort noch zur weißen Kirche am Hügel hochzusteigen. Am Weg liegt eine kleine Pflanzen- und Zoohandlung, mehrere Hähne krähen und werden meiner Meinung nach sehr unwürdig gehalten. Eine Vielzahl an Sittichen und anderen Vögeln zwitschern und wir machen uns schnell weiter auf den Weg nach oben. Violette, rote Blumen neben Ohrenkakteen, Flechten, einer Vielzahl unterschiedlicher nie gesehener Blattformen (endemischer?) Bäume und bekannt erdige Vulkanböden verschönern den Aufstieg.

Die Aussichtsplattform ist beeindruckend und wie so oft erwischen wir einen tollen Blick auch auf die im Hafen thronende AidaStella. Durch kleine Gassen und mutig kombinierte Fassaden geht es zurück zum Schiff. Am Hafenzugang zum Schiff (der übrigens sehr zuvorkommend mit einem blauen Leitsystem gekennzeichnet war) kommen wir noch an einer Meerjungfrau mit Katze auf dem Schoß vorbei.

Wir können uns keinen Reim darauf machen und beschließen am späteren Nachmittag die Füße hochzulegen.

SPA Oase

Eines der Highlights der Reise liefern dann am späteren Abend noch Jani & Micha: sie gewinnen das Pub Quiz und stauben ein paar sehr nette Preise ab. Die Konkurrenz war spaßig, die Moderation eher lau. Und die Musik war strafverschärfend (Schlager).