Le Meridien ~ Barcelona

Le Meridien Barcelona

Le Meridien Barcelona

Artwork at Le Meridien

Artwork at Le Meridien

Barcelona is known for it’s museums, local culture, food, markets, opera house, flamenco dancing, art, architecture, gothic quarter and music. When choosing a destination, we really try to research things to do and places to eat for kids. The same is true when researching a place to stay. Some of the questions we ask are: Is the hotel family friendly? What accommodations do they offer for kids? Do the restaurants Europe - 3include kids menus? What is the surrounding area like? Is it conveniently located to public transportation, airports and cruise ports? Research, research, research!!!! Get to know the area before you jet set. We flew into Barcelona El Prat Airport and sailed out of the Port of Barcelona. Research the cost of a hotel transfer to the ship if you are cruising. Keep in mind, the transfer cost are per person. Compare that to cab fare to the ship from the hotel. The hotel concierge will be able to estimate the cost of the cab fare in advance. Most hotels offer the option to email their concierge questions prior to arrival. Before renting a vehicle consider the driving laws in the country which you are visiting. If you are not familiar, get familiar in advance!

Le Meridien Barcelona

Le Meridien Barcelona

While researching Barcelona, time and time again, Las Ramblas kept coming up. It is the main drag so-to-speak, walking distance to  Gaudí’ architecture, tapas (appetizer) restaurants, shopping and most importantly the Barcelona Metro & Barcelona Bus Turistic. We narrowed down the hotel to the city’s most famous street – Las Ramblas and decided to stay at Le Méridien located on Las Ramblas.

Arrival art work by Joan Fontcuberta

Arrival art work by Joan Fontcuberta

When you enter the Le Meridien Barcelona- it’s like stepping into a whole new world!

The cab dropped us off and I remember looking up at the sky-scraping, ornate, historic building in absolute awe. We entered through the gold and glass revolving door, which the kids loved, where we were greeted by doorman in suits who grabbed our luggage. The modern colors of black and red flash before your eyes while taking in the sounds & aromas of espresso brewing at the coffee bar, people speaking an array of languages, various currencies exchanging at the front desk, and hotel staff rushing by, smiling. The hotel is definitely alive.

Since we were off by 12 hour time difference, the mornings consisted of getting up very early to go downstairs and await the opening of the espresso bar and the Illy coffee (Italian gourmet coffee). My daughter and I would watch the residents rushing past the windows on Las Ramblas heading off by foot in the dark to their busy day at work. The doorman must be trained to memorize each and every guest name and face! It was an unreal experience, different from that my time in Italy and France. Observing the doorman while sipping coffee was fascinating to me. Since the hotel is located on the city’s most famous street, it was reassuring to know that the doorman monitor who is walking in and out. Throughout the hotel art and architectural detailing are displayed. In the central lobby, “The Hub”, is the perfect place to people watch, visit with friends and family, read, or simply drink coffee.

The arrival art work by Joan Fontcuberta (pictured above). Fontcuberta is a local photographer and lecturer in Fine Art. He concretes on representations, wisdom, memory, science, confidence, ambiguity in images. The artwork is amazing, from the outside it appears as though you can’t see into the hotel but from the inside looking out, you can’t see the artwork.

La Rambla

La Rambla

St. Joseph La Boqueria

St. Joseph La Boqueria

Las Ramblas has a tree lined central promenade which is crowded all day and night. The street is pavedEurope - 7 in a design which is meant to ripple like water. There are several vendors along the promenade selling newspapers, souvenirs, flowers, and you will see street traders, performers, cafes and bars. Be sure not to miss the famous fountain, Font de Canaletes, and popular meeting point. La Rambla is lined with historic buildings which include the Palace of the Virreina, Liceu Theatre, the market- one of the city’s landmarks. Royal Square, shopping plaza with palm trees, pubs and restaurants, is located a couple of streets over from Las Ramblas.

Barcelona Shopping

Barcelona Shopping

Interesting facts about the hotel ~ Le Méridien Barcelona has had many world-famous guests such as: Pavarotti, Bruce Springsteen, Zubin Mehta, Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Rostropovich. The hotel offers limousine service, multilingual staff to attend to every need, complimentary Wi-Fi access in all public areas. The hotel is top notch with wonderful culinary options, interesting artwork, spacious rooms and located in the center of everything!!

Cava cava

Cava cava

Just a glass of Cava…….

In our house, the word “Cava Cava” are an inside joke. It’s along story, but basically the complementary glasses of Cava at 7 p.m. during the Le Meridien daily reception hit pretty fast when you haven’t eaten since noon! Getting on the meal time of Spain was a little challenging for us. We were almost asleep by dinner time and not too hungry anymore. We adjusted quickly but taking naps around 2 p.m. As they say, in rome do as the romans do.

Cava is a sparkling wine, which can be white (blanco) or rosé (rosado), produced in Catalonia. Cava is commonly made from macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo grape varieties. What is the difference between champagne/sparkling wine and cava you ask? Only wines produced in the champenoise traditional method (effervescence is produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle) can be labeled as cava. The village of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is home to many of Spain’s largest production houses. Do NOT refer to cava as “Spanish champagne”, as it is not permitted under European Union law. Yes, they are quite serious about their cava. Cava is part of Spanish family tradition and is commonly served at baptisms, marriages, banquets, dinners and parties.

Le Meridien Barcelona CentOnze Restaurant

Le Meridien Barcelona CentOnze Restaurant

Europe - 41.5

CentOnze

Le Meridien Barcelona

Le Meridien Barcelona

CentOnze has a sophisticated, yet warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“Our Chef is the creative genius behind a menu that is both well-balanced and intriguing, in which the sheer quality of the ingredients shines through the creative aesthetic, featuring dishes whose every constituent part is given equal prominence. The kitchens are bursting with the vibrant colors and fresh flavors of the Boquería market. Ingredients of the very highest quality are transformed into ephemeral works of art… haute cuisine made accessible” ~ Le Meridien Barcelona website.
The wait staff at CentOnze are phenomenal!! Anticipating our arrival each evening, they reserved a table in the window of Las Ramblas where we could watch all the night life take place. The wait staff memorized the type of wine that we ordered the first night and brought it to the table each night thereafter. The seafood was fresh from the Mediterranean and they suggested kid-friendly options. CentOnze was the perfect way to end each day in Barcelona after our siesta.

Barcelona

Barcelona

Money Saving Tips: We chose to not rent a car when we traveled to Barcelona, as it is 37.8 EUR (approximately  $49.14 US per day) to park per day. Be sure to consider the parking fees prior to reserving a car. There are several means of public transportation within walking distance to the hotel. We rode around on Barcelona Bus Turistic, which is conveniently located at the end of Las Ramblas. Tickets are available for all three routes: red, green and blue. We rode each route the first day we were in Barcelona to decide which places we wanted to tour. The bus is fun for kids as it is guided and offered in multiple languages.

Take advantage of the market’s convenient location!!! We would leave our room first thing in the morning to grab hot coffee and croissants. The kids created their own specialty smoothies – getting past the language barrier all on their own. Sit up to the counter tops in the market, order your lunch and watch the chefs and they rush around clanking pans cooking snails, ham, and quiche. Bring sliced meats, cheeses and crackers back to your room to snack on before dinner. In Spain, dinner is very late in comparison to the U.S. Our kids loved snacking away from 2-8 p.m. when most places are closed for siesta. The market is affordable! Grab Panini’s for the whole family to share and take off for a picnic. We grabbed a variety of Panini’s and headed to the Castle Montjuic .

To read more about our time in Barcelona, including Gaudí’s Sangrada Familia, Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (world famous market), Sangria & Paella recipes, and Castle Montjuic ~ click on “Barcelona, Spain” under topics on the right hand column of the blog.

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

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Antoni Gaudí Structures, Barcelona

Roof top of Gaudi's Casa Mila

Roof top of Gaudi’s Casa Mila

View from the roof top of Casa Mila

View from the roof top of Casa Mila

Barcelona is known for it’s architecture and one of the most famous architects,

Casa Mila

Casa Mila

Antoni Gaudí’s gothic style structures. They are very unique by design and interesting to tour inside. We were able to view a few of them during our one week stay in Barcelona. Sangrada Familia is probably the most recognized and visited structure by Gaudí and for this reason, I have created a separate post specifically about Sangrada Familia. So be sure to check out that page by clicking on the word “Sangrada Familia” on the right hand side of the page under “topics”.

Antoni Gaudí is from, Reus, which is a small town south of Barcelona.  A

Casa Mila roof top

Casa Mila roof top

‘Modernisme’ movement took place towards the end of the 19th century in Catalonia that extended from ca. 1880 to the First World War. This movement was similiar to other currents such as Naturalism, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau. It was motivated by a return to traditions as an expression of national identity, as well as by the introduction of modern techniques and materials as part of progress. This Modernisme movement was very different from anything else as it pertained to cultural identity. The movement expressed literature and music, painting, sculpture, decorative arts and, of course,  architecture.

As we rode the Barcelona Bus Turístic around, we saw long lines in front of  Gaudí’s, Casa Milà. Later we found out that tickets are available for purchase on line in advance, thus avoiding the lines. The long lines indicated that this was a poppular Gaudí

Roof top of Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Roof top of Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

straucture to tour and so we decided to take the kids and see for ourselves!! The best times to tour the bulding are before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., otherwise be prepared for crowds. Upon entereing the building you will walk through a downstairs area which has gorgeous glass window formations and indoor courtyards. Go up the elevator and walk around the roof top viewing the clay colored, head formations. The bulding displays what high end apartment life was like 100 years ago. Casa Milà is unlike any building I have ever toured or seen for that matter. I was a little nervous walking around the roof tops as it is very high and you walk up and down hilly, narrow pathways. Upon exiting the building there is a book store with unqiue gifts and souveniers.

Roof top of Casa Mila

Roof top of Casa Mila

Casa Milà  is also known as ‘La Pedrera’. It is a very unusual looking building, which was built between 1906 and 1912 by Gaudí (1852–1926).  La Pedrera is the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera and includes a cultural centre. This bulding is known for an array of activities which are organized, exhibitions and other events.

Price information to tour Casa Milà:
Adult: €16.50
Student: €14.85
Disabled: €14.85
Children (six and under): free
Children (seven to twelve): €8.25
Casa Batllo from bus

Casa Batllo from bus

Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces is the Casa Batlló which opened in 1877 and is located in the heart of Barcelona. Casa Batlló is a remodel of a previously built house.

When riding the Barcelona Bus Turístic around you will see Casa Batlló which is located in the very heart of Passeig de Gràcia. Gaudí’ wanted this building to have marine inspiration, such as a dream world, which portrays nature with its earthy elements and bits of fantasy.
The house was originally the residence of the Batlló family. Then, Gaudí included a huge gallery which projects several meters out over Passeig de Gràcia for all to see! He also added large oval-shaped feature windows and inserted stone columns in the shape of bones, and balconies in the shape of masks or gothic figures. On the top of the building there is a spectacular roof which resembles a dragon’s back. In addition, there is a tower with a cross rising up with four arms pointing north, south, east and west.

Gaudí is known for his representations such as an animal’s spine on the roof terrace using tiles of different colors on one side and the use of trencadís mosaic technique on the other. The roof also displays four chimney stacks. Gaudí completed a full refurbishment of the building using innovative techniques and creativity.
Barcelona City Council selected the house as a candidate for the 1906 award for the best building.

Price Information to tour Casa Batlló:
Adult: €20.35
Student: €6.30
Children (six and under): free
$$ saving tips: Most of the Gaudí structures can be viewed from the Barcelona Bus Turístic. It gets expensive purchasing tickets for an entire family at each building. Some structures you really have to view from the inside, such as Sangrada Familia. However, other structures are shown very close up from the bus. The bus also provides information about the buildings and drives slow enough to take pictures. We were lucky as the bus came to a complete stop often times in front of the buildings due to traffic. Be sure to ride on the top deck to get the best view. The Sangrada Familia must be toured inside to see the various colors of gorgeous marble columns throughout. There are so many museums and building to see in Barcelona in addition to all of the Gaudí structures. The best way to save money is to ride the bus around first, take pictures of everything, and map out what you want to return to. Casa Milà was worth paying for the tour. You don’t need to pay for the guided tour with the head set. We did and then ended up just reading our way through and taking off the annoying head phones.
5wheelsto5star is featured monthly Destinations Travel Magazine