Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lima Peru November 22-26

Flowers in bloom in Lima's Parque Kennedy-just the thing to see on arrival from chilly Philly.
Well, November is winter, Yes?  This means we start thinking of warmer climes for our adventures.  Machu Picchu and the Galapagos were both on our bucket list, we wanted to travel with our friends John and Missy Randolph, and to make it easy, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), with whom we have traveled with several times, offered a nice package. The four of us are more urban adventurers than some OAT customers, so we choose to arrive early and depart later, adding 4 to 5 days to the trip, but giving us more time to explore the cities of Lima and Quito, visiting restaurants  and museums that were not on the group itinerary.

We started our trip in Lima, staying in the very pleasant Miraflores district at the Antigua Miraflores Hotel, where later the rest of the OAT group would join us.  An early morning arrival meant that we had a whole day to explore the city after we dropped off our bags and repaired to a very nice café around the corner, La Mora, for necessary doses of caffeine to wake up. 
Hotel Antigua Miraflores, in a very convenient location in Lima, Peru
 A leisurely walk took us to nearby Parque Kennedy with great gardens, colorful statuary and an abundance of well-fed feral cats snoozing in the flower beds.

Most of the Pacific Ocean views in this area of Lima are from clifftops.  We came across a modern shopping mall built into the side of the cliffs with killer views called Larcomar, complete with upscale shops, restaurants and a movie theater.  

It was cheerily decorated for Christmas, which seemed incongruous to us, in the warm weather.  

We stopped for coffee at a cafe at Larcomar, trying to compensate for the short night of not much sleep on the plane from Miami.  We learned to order the most popular coffee, a cortado, an espresso cut with a little bit of milk.   The coffee kept us going for a walk along the clifftops to Parque del Amor,  with its Gaudi-esque mosaic wall, there is a huge statue of a kissing couple, hence the park name, that leaves little to the imagination.  

Just beyond, on a promontory, a launching site for paragliders is a great place to watch the fun.  The lighthouse at the end of the malecon walk was a nice finale to this sunny walk-we didn’t appreciate our first day in Lima enough, because we never had such a  sunny day again. 

We discovered the Inca Markets, a huge complex of handicraft stalls, in Miraflores, and spent some time wandering around, enjoying the colorful wares on display, and learning what was available.

Hats, backpacks, shoes all sorts of colorful Peruvian goods at the Inca Mart-photos not encouraged, so blurry!

Peru is also becoming known as a destination for good food, so we thought it would be fun to take a cooking class while we were in Lima. 

We signed up for a market tour, fruit tasting and class to learn about several traditional Peruvian specialties at Sky Kitchen, run by Christian and his helpers Yurac and Sonia.  Christian met us at Mercado 1, near our hotel,  to show us, for example, different types of bananas, corn and potatoes. 

Then we repaired to the teaching kitchen, on the top floor with an open deck, really “in the sky.” Who knew there were so many different kinds and colors of bananas,  or that some lemons are almost flavorless and others are rather mild.  Some fruits were familiar to us like starfruit, but others like tomate de arbol were totally new to us. We learned four dishes in the cooking class, including ceviche, 
Ceviche we made at Sky Kitchen cooking class in Lima, Peru
causa, an interesting room temperature layered dish of mashed potatoes, avocado and chicken, lomo saltado, a sautéed beef dish with tomatoes, and picarones or little doughnuts made of sweet potato and a squash called sapaillo like pumpkin.   
Student chefs Dane and John with their lomo saltado.
Our favorite recipe was for causa, which we have since made at home with great success, especially as we brought some of the ahi Amarillo, or ground orange chili sauce, home with us.
The Aji Amarillo Molido we used to make the causa.  We bought several packets at a grocery store.
Here's an adaptation of the Causa recipe we made at Sky Kitchen cooking school: 
Causa (Adapted from a recipe from Sky Kitchen cooking school in Lima, Peru)
 2 pounds Russet potatoes
7 tablespoons vegetable oil (NOT olive oil)
3 key limes (or two regular Persian limes)
3 tablespoons Aji Amarillo Molido (orange/yellow chili paste) (available online or in Latin grocery stores)
 ½ pound white chicken meat (e.g. breast)
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 avocados
Salt and pepper
1. Steam the potatoes in a little water or microwave until very tender. 
2. Cook the chicken in water with salt until done, about 20 minutes
3. Peel the still-warm potatoes and pass them through a potato rice or Foley food mill.  DO NOT process in a food processor.  You want them light and fluffy.
4. Cut the chicken into small pieces, across the fibers.  Add mayonnaise and pepper to taste.  This and the avocado will be the stuffing.  (NOTE:  If you are serving the causa as a side dish to another meat, you can eliminate the chicken.  Or get really fancy and substitute crab, tuna, or another protein as desired.)
5. Squeeze the limes and strain the juice to make 3-4 tablespoons.
6. Cut avocados in half, peel and cut into very thin slices.
7. Add vegetable oil and chili puree to the mashed potatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well to combine.
8. Lightly oil or spray with non-stick coating a metal ring of about 3 inches wide and 2 inches high. Place on work surface covered with parchment paper.  Put about ½ inch of potato mixture into ring. Cover with a thin layer of sliced avocado pieces.  Add another ½ inch potato layer.  If using, add a ½ inch layer of chicken or other protein.  Add another layer of chicken and finally fill the form with a final layer of potato on top.  (Hint:  I weigh the potato, chicken and avocado, and then divide by the number of servings I am making, to be sure each is about the same size.)
9. Remove the metal ring by pulling it up gently until the potato tower slips out the bottom. 
10. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make six potato towers in all. 
11.  Decorate the causa as you like, with squiggles of mayonnaise (put a few tablespoons in a plastic bag, snip off the corner and you have a little piping tool), olive, avocado slice, parsley, fresh chili or the following sauce:
12.  Mince ½ of a small onion with some fresh yellow chili, and then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Aji Amarillo Molido, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar.  Drizzle a bit over each causa.
Note:  If you prefer, make the causa in an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish, and build up the layers in the same way as for individual servings.  Cut and serve in squares using a spatula.
John, Missy, Joan and Dane showing off our causas made at Sky Kitchen cooking class in Lima, Peru
Having sampled fifty different kinds of fruit, then eaten our courses from our cooking class, we felt the need for a walk so were happy to discover fascinating ruins just a few blocks away. Huaca Pucllana, where the Wari and other pre-Columbian nomadic fisherman and farmers settled. Later the Wari made it an administrative and ceremonial center and cemetery for its elite.
The cemetery mound of Huaca Pucllana in the afternoon sun was very sculptural.
We were beginning to appreciate the uniqueness of Peru when its largest city of nine million people has ruins from before 700 AD to the 16th century. 
Another reason we arrived in Lima early was to visit the renownedMuseo Arquelogico Rafael Larco Herrera, located in a grand 18th-century mansion built on a pyramid dating back to the 7th century.  The museum houses the biggest private collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian art and gave us a good comprehensive view of the cultures that existed in Peru up to the 16th century. 

 Besides the excellent displays of pottery, the gold and silver collections were fantastic. 

Inca gold headdress and jewelry displayed beautifully at Museo Larco.
 Ancient textile fragments on display included some made from bird feathers.  In a separate gallery that was a bit harder to find there was a display of erotic art depicting the sex lives of ancient Peruvians.  Who knew? 
The central historic area of Lima surrounding the Plaza Mayor occupied us for an entire afternoon, with  lunch at L’Eau Vive Del Peru one of many restaurants around the world run by the Lavoratrici Missionarie dell'Immocolata order of nuns to benefit their social programs.  We noticed that we were about the only tourists in the restaurant, which offered a very reasonable lunch special menu and so was popular with office workers in central Lima.
A French chicken entree complemented by rice and yucca at L'eau Viv3 in Lima, Peru.  Oh, and Peruvian beer too!
The handsome courtyard entrance to L'Eau Vive restaurant, with displays about the history of the building.
Iglesia de San Pedro in Lima Peru

We enjoyed strolling the streets around the Plaza Mayor to appreciate the restored Moorish-style carved balconies that decorate many of the colonial era buildings. 

We toured La Cathedral on the Plaza Mayor, with the remains of explorer Francisco Pizarro in one chapel, and the striking yellow and white colonial complex of San Francisco, with church, convent, chapels and eerie catacombs.   
The beautiful interior of La Catedral of Lima
San Francisco Church Baroque facade dates from 1664.  
Food was a main focus of our early arrival in Lima, from our first lunch at Delfino Mar for ceviche and our first pisco sours!

 to  a fabulous meal at Amaz with it’s emphasis on food from the Amazon region.  

The best pisco sours we enjoyed were at La Baraches de Caliche, served in chilled ceramic Inca-style cups.  Later we realized they were so delicious because they were dobles! 
Some of us chose another Pisco Sour doble for dessert, but one of us was tempted by the Tres Leches cake!
With its seaside location, Lima’s restaurants often feature seafood, and we had another great meal at Alfresco, just a short walk from our hotel.
A bounty of seafood at Alfresco restaurant in Lima, Peru
Our last evening before the group tour began, we had a big splash with dinner at La Barra the more casual restaurant at Astrid y Gaston’s.  More pisco sours, but a special beer for Dane, and our first taste of cuy or guinea pig. 
Dane being offered a special artisanal beer by the sommelier at Astrid&Gaston's La Barra

Confit of Cuy at La Barra in Lima.
We should point out that there are a number of conflicts and controversies between Chile and Peru, most having to do with politics and territorial disputes.  The one we know most about has to do with the pisco sour.  Both countries claim it as their national cocktail.  Both claim to have the most authentic.  One does not go into a Lima bar and ask for a pisco sour just like the one you had in Chile. After much research (what one will do in the name of science) we really thought we enjoyed the variety of Peruvian pisco sours.  (With that statement, we may never be able to set foot in Santiago de Chile again.)
Three different flavors of Pisco Sour at Alfresco:  Passion Fruit, Coco and  Purple Corn.  All delicioso! 
When the OAT group arrived, we joined them for a tour of central Lima, where we had already explored.   We also visited the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru, with more information about the Inca and preceding cultures. The Inca get the attention because they were the first to be discovered by the Europeans, but there were several important groups with longer histories before the Inca, which was a review for us from what we had learned at Museo Larco, but good preparation for the next part of our trip, Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Baroque Altarpiece at a church in Lima, Peru.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Barcelona April/May 2014

We didn't post about our trip to Barcelona and the Basque country during or after our trip there in late April and early May, 2014, so will try to do a brief overview now.  Brief is difficult with all the fabulous architecture and food we enjoyed during the trip...
The Cathedral or Dom of Mainz, Germany.
Curiously, our trip began with a trip to Mainz in Germany!  Our flight to Barcelona went through Frankfurt, where we had a several-hour layover.  Joan discovered online a suggestion to visit nearby Mainz by train, a short trip from the Frankfurt airport.
Easter candy and confections and the historic city of Mainz reflected in a shop window.
 It was Good Friday, so most of the town was closed, but we found a coffee shop open, visited the handsome Dom and strolled along the pedestrian-only streets of the Altstadt or old city, and visiting Gutenbergplatz with locals enjoying the fresh air and charming Easter window displays before we headed back to the airport and our flight to Barcelona.

Nighttime view from Leo's apartment up to the Norman Foster Torre de Collserola.
Sunrise behind Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
We have to thank Leo, our house exchange host, who lent us his beautiful and very well located modern apartment in Barcelona for ten days.  Just off the Av. Diagonal and near the Maria Christina metro stop, it was convenient for us to catch busses or subway trains too get us wherever we wanted to go in Barcelona.  Plus, as it was the first tall building in the neighborhood, we enjoyed fabulous views in all directions, but especially the sunrises over the towers of Sagrada Familia every morning.

We had several delicious meals in Barcelona, starting with a lunch at Cuines de Santa Catarina, a restaurant at the Mercat de Santa Catarina, a centrally located market with a colorful undulating roof.
Santa Catarina Market in Barcelona.

The casual restaurant Cuines de Santa Catarian, which features fresh market produce.

Sausage and white beans at the Cuines de Santa Catarian restaurant.
Other great meals were at the famous fish restaurant, Els Pescador, where we enjoyed a plate of Iberian ham, along with lots of fish, of course! 

Dane even found a craft beer bar one afternoon.  We had to laugh to see a beer from a charming little town we've visited, Marshall, Michigan, second from the top.

We enjoyed an evening for the Barcelona Tapas Tour, but were sorry we scheduled it so early in our stay, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but because we hadn't yet gotten our bearings, we never knew exactly where Kaye Pineda, our personable guide took us.  We were stuffed after the several-hour walk with stops at several shops, enotecas and an old bodega frequented bylocals where we tried vermut or vermouth.

Of course we took advantage of the great museums in Barcelona, including the Joan Miro Foundation.
Dane posing with a Miro sculpture at the Joan Miro Foundation museum.
The Picasso Museum and the Museu Nacional d'Arte de Catalunya were two of our favorite destinations.
The lovely cascade fountains leading up the to Museu Nacional d'Arte de Catalunya. 

Beautifully displayed and lit art at the Museu National d'Arte de Catalunya. 

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852-1926)
Nearby was the Pavillion Mies Van Der Rohe designed for the Germans for the 1929 Exposition.

Barcelona Pavilion designed for Germany for the Barcelona International Exhibition in 1929.

Sagrada Familia basilica, Barcelona
Of course we spent an entire day exploring Sagrada Familia, the basilica Antonio Gaudi designed, which is still under construction.  Joan visited the church in the 1960s, and was amazed to see the wonderful progress.  Here's some of our favorite overall and detail pictures.

Sculpture over one of the entrances to Sagrada Familia bascilica.
Beautiful stained glass flooded the interior of Sagrada Familia with light.

The Gaudi-designed columns of Sagrada Familia look like sycamore tree trunks.
An older entrance to Sagrada Familia with detailed sculptures.

There were so many Gaudi sites to visit in Barcelona!  The Palau de la Musica was another favorite.

Beautiful balcony in the main auditorium of the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona
Stained glass ceiling in the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona.

Intricate tile work in the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona.
We also visited  Casa Mila or La Pedrera, the fabulous apartment building Gaudi designed, with it's great rooftop and chimneys.
Undulating rooftop of La Pedrera apartment building by Gaudi in Barcelona.
Chimney pots of La Pedrera in Barcelona.

We enjoyed the special exhibit in the former servants quarters under the roof, which explained the design of the building.
Exhibition space in the attic of La Pedrera, Barcelona.
Of course we also had to visit Parc Guell, which we didn't do very well.  We found the bus to take us there, but didn't realize we needed timed tickets to visit the Parc.
Parc Guell in Barcelona
Luckily, there were areas we could visit without a ticket, so we had a small taste of the fabulous park, including a visit to Gaudi's home in the park.
A detail from Casa Gaudi in Parc Guell.
But we learned a lesson, and in future, booked our tickets in advance for all the sights we wanted to see; we were fortunate that we could use Leo's computer and printer to print out our tickets.  After visitng the Parc Guell, we wanted to see Palau Guell, the home Gaudi designed for Guell, which also featured fabulous chimneys.
Chimneypots of Palau Guell, Barcelona.
Gaudi's darkly Gothic Palau Guell in Barcelona.  No wonder Sra. Guell didn't much like it!

Joan listening to the audio guide tour of the Palau Guell in Barcelona.  The carriage entrance and main stairs.
View from the balcony to the central room of the Palau Guell in Barcelona.

Strolling on Las Ramblas, the "Umbrella Building" caught our eye.
The "Umbrella Building" on Las Ramblas, Barcelona.
 Of course we had to visit the famous market just off Las Ramblas, the central boulevard of Barcelona,  La Boqueria.
Easter breads for sale at La Boqueria market in Barcelona.
Easter eggs for sale in La Boqueria market, Barcelona

Colorful food stall at La Boqueria market just off Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
We had more great meals, including one at what we thought would be a touristy spot, El Quatre Gats, but it turned out to be a great experience as we watched many local families celebrate the festival of St. George, or La diada de Sant Jordi, Catalonia's patron saint.

Lovely old sign of Le Quatre Gats or the 4 Cats.
April 23 is a special holiday in Barcelona and we were lucky to have scheduled our stay then.  The day of the rose and the book, when men give their women roses, and women reciprocate with gifts of books.  A huge percentage of the books sold in Spain are sold in Catalonia on April 23 each year!
We saw this flag flying everywhere in Barcelona.

Bakeries in Barcelona featured this bread, Pa de Sant Jordi
 We enjoyed the colorful Catalan flags flying everywhere in support of independence, and the bakery windows featuring Pa de Sant Jordi,  which looks like the Catalan flag.  Here's a link to a recipe.

Children had a school holiday and were busy buying books from the stalls which lined every major street in Barcelona.
We stumbled on the Barcelona Athenaeum, and were delighted to discover in honor of Sant Jordi day, it was open to the public.  As members of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, we particularly appreciated being able to visit this spectacular private library.
Fabulous interior of the Barcelona Athenaeum.

Another building only open on Sant Jordi day was the Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona's main government building, is open to the public.  We were lucky enough to get in line in time to be able to tour the magnificent building, and Joan finally got a rose.
Interior of the Palau de la Generalitat.

St George or San Jordi, with a display of red roses in the Palau de la Generalitat.
Joan with her rose at the Palau de la Generalitat on the one day a year it is open to the public.
 Another day we visited the Hotel de Espana where we enjoyed lunch and a terrific tour of the historic building.
Quenelles and ceviche for lunch at the Hotel de Espana

Lobby of the Hotel de Espana
We enjoyed walking around the historic center of Barcelona, and found at the Born Market there was a museum display of the Roman city discovered under the market.

We had to visit Poble Nou, the oldest cemetery in Barcelona.
Poble Nou cemetery in Barcelona.
And we took a day trip by train to nearby Montserrat to visit the 12th Century Benedictine monastery tucked in a scenic crevice.  Unfortunately because of the Easter holiday the famous boy's choir was not singing that afternoon.
Visitors to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery.
Pilgrims lighting candles at Santa Maria de Montserrat.

But we had a good taste of churches, including the  cathedral in the main square, where we enjoyed seeing the Sardana dancers one Sunday morning.

Dancing the Sardana in front of the Barcelona Cathedral

Interior of the Cathedral of Barcelona.
One day we visited Poble Espanyol, a village displaying 117 buildings in all the different styles of architecture in Spanish villages.  Yes, touristy, but quite a good way to get a feeling for the charming villages of Spain.
Charming lanes of the Poble Espanyol. 
Sometimes we just enjoyed wandering around the medievil neighborhood of Barcelona called the Barri Gotic.

Plaza in the Barri Gotic near the Barcelona Cathedral.

Historic Storefront in Barcelona.

We spent some time at the waterfront, visiting the Maritime Museum and exploring La Barcelonetta neighborhood, the historic seaport of Barcelona.
Arc de Triomf built for the 1888 World Fair held in Barcelona

Customs House at the harbor of Barcelona

The harbor of Bacelona with Mont Juic in the background.
Another day we stumbled into a fabulous Japanese influenced restaurant.
A change of pace-Japeanese-inspired food in Barcelona.  Delicious!
A few final Gaudi-designed buildings we only saw from the outside; we have to save something for another visit!

Finally our 10 days at Leo's comfortable apartment came to an end.  We rented a car and began a 5-night road trip inspired by the Fodor's article Food Lover's Road Trip from Barcelona to Basque Country.  Thank heavens we added a GPS unit to our rental, and sprung for the extra insurance!
The Cathedral in Girona, Spain.
Our first stop was the charming town of Girona, where we toured churches and strolled the ancient ramparts. The Cathedral, we learned, has the second-widest nave of any Gothic church in world after St. Peter's Basilica!
Cathedral in Girona, with a second-widest nave of any Gothic church in the world.
From there we drove along the Mediterranean and across the southern end of the Pyrenees mountains into France, where we found Carcassonne, the medieval walled village that "out-Disney's Disney."
Carcassonne, France from afar.  A wonderland, "restored" by Victorian architect Viollet le Duc
We stayed at the Hotel de la Cite located within the walled city, and not for the first time were thankful for the GPS which got us directly to the hotel parking lot outside the walls, where we were met by a little jitney which took us and our luggage to the hotel.
Entrance to Hotel de la Cite in Carcassonne, France.
We had a fabulous dinner at La Barbicane, their one-starred Michelin restaurant,

 but most enjoyed our preprandial cocktails in the bar, where we visited with the charming bartender.
Formerly an Orient Express hotel, the Hotel de la Cite has much charm, especially the bar.
After dinner we walked again through the town, relishing the fact that all the bus groups had gone away, and we had the romantic town to ourselves.

The next morning, after another stroll through the quiet village before the tourists descended, we drove through Toulouse and across the northern end of the Pyrenees back into Spain, this time the Basque Country.

We checked into Villa Soro, a boutique hotel, in San Sebastian, then walked to the center of the city where we enjoyed the charming atmosphere of the historic center.

In the evening we met our guide for a Pinxtos (Basque tapas) tour operated by San Sebastian Food.  Fabulous food, wines and fun.
Pouring Txakoli sparkling white wine from on high. 
More fabulous pinxtos during our walking tour of San Sebastian's best pinxtos bars:

Needless to say we didn't have dinner that evening.  Note the toothpicks.  You keep your toothpicks and when you're ready to leave, the bartender counts the toothpicks to know how much to charge you.
Salt-roasted green peppers pinxtos in San Sebastian.
The next day, we gave Dane a day off from driving, and took a bus to Bilbao, where we spent the day visiting the Guggenheim Bilbao museum.  (The weirdest thing was the perky young Mormon  missionary who started up a conversation with us by saying "Gosh, what are you doing going to Bilbao?"  Duh, to see the world-famous museum and fabulous town.

Well, we spent almost the entire day first visiting the museum, then walking around the outside so Mr. Wells could take pictures from every conceivable angle.  The exhibits of the museum were only mildly interesting (they built a wing of the museum around the massive Richard Serra's massive steel sculptures!)  Herewith a few of Dane's best shots:

Interior view of the Guggenheim Bilbao.

Louise Nevelson's spider on the riverside promenade of the Guggenheim Bilbao

Jeff Koons' "Tulips" outside the Guggenheim Bilbao
We enjoyed walking through the city of Bilbao from the bus station to the Museum, where we saw many restored old buildings and towering new buildings illustrating the "Bilbao effect" of the new museum.  It was a charming town and we wished we had planned to spend more time there.

Jeff Koons' "Puppy" in front of the Guggenheim Bilbao with a modern skyscraper in the background.
One of the highlights was our lunch at the museum's one-starred Michelin restaurant called Nerua.  The "baby's tears" peas or guisante lágrima were memorable.
Appetizers at Nerua included guisante lagrima with foam, top right.  Heavenly!
Two Michelin-starred meals in a day!  That evening, we had reservations at Restaurante Arzak, just up the street from our elegant hotel Villa Soro in San Sebastian.

We lost track of the "courses", but there were about six amuse bouche including one served on top of a crumpled aluminum can and an equal number of dessert treats afterwards.
Amuse bouche at Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain
We've long since forgotten the price, but still remember the fabulous presentation; one dish was served over an iPad set to look a flaming image!
Monkfish (top) with sea buckthorn and Lamb with "plastered" Jerusalem artichoke over an iPad "flame"
A savvy thing they did was give us a printed copy of the menu choices we had made as a souvenir.
Looking down into the Rioja region of Spain from the top of the mountain.
Our final day in Spain was a long drive from San Sebastian to  El Ciego in the Rioja wine region.  It was a winding road over the mountains, and once again we were grateful for the GPS navigation.
Our destination was the Hotel Marques de Riscal, another confection designed by Frank Gehry.

The little stone and red-tiled roofed town has had a mini Bilbao effect with visitors now coming to explore it while they stay at the notable hotel.
We enjoyed the Marquis de Riscal rose wine with our lunch.
After a relaxing afternoon enjoying some of the signature Marques de Riscal wines and light lunch on the outdoor patio, we were treated to a tour of the winery and of course Dane had to take many many more pictures of the beautiful setting.
Dane with this trusty camera enjoying the views of the Hotel Marques de Riscal.

On the winery tour at the Marquis de Riscal winery.
The swirling titanium roof of the Hotel Marques de Riscal, El Ciego, Spain
And yes, there was one more Michelin-starred restaurant we had to try, the hotel restaurant!
Another memorable meal, which was topped by a dessert that was served in a caviar tin but was delicious chocolate!
Dane at the  beautiful Marquis de Riscal  Restaurant.

Not caviar, but dessert!

Delicious little bites as treats after our meal at Restaurant Marquis de Riscal.
What a wonderful finale to our visit to Spain.  The only scary part was when we tried to set the GPS for our early-morning departure for the Barcelona airport, a 5-hour drive that I hadn't carefully calculated when I made our plans.  We got up at 3 am to start, and our GPS wouldn't connect to a satellite.  Considering we were way out in the country without a map, we didn't know how we would find the airport in time to make our 10 am flight.  The kindly night clerk gave us directions to the major highway and we started off with trepidation.  Wonderously, by the time we were a few hundred yards away from the hotel's swirling titanium roof, the GPS connected.  Were we relieved!

Entrance to the Hotel Marques de Riscal, in El Ciego, Spain.