Friday, December 11, 2009

Caelum- Barcelona, Spain

While in Barcelona, we stayed at the Hotel Catalonia Catedral, which is fairly new and in an absolutely great location. It's close to Las Ramblas and also steps away from the Catedral de Barcelona. I was so delighted by the fact that we woke up to the sound of cathedral bells ringing each morning, until Pete informed me that it was actually the sound of her alarm clock that I was hearing. hahaha. Go figure. But for my sake, let's just pretend it was real church bells.

Really close to our hotel was the cutest coffee shop. You must go there if you visit Barcelona. If you walk up Carrer de la Palla from the cathedral square, you will see a bunch of cute antique shops that sell old stamps, books, furniture and other nick nacks. On the corner of Banys Nous, you will see a big yellow display window with pastries spread out on a cloth table.
This little tea shop is called Caelum, which appropriately means "heaven" in Latin. Peering into the window you will see people sitting down enjoying their cups of coffee and little pastries, but when you walk inside, you will see half of the store is dedicated to selling jams, cookies, cakes, fish shaped marzipan, honey, rose water, oils and other goodies made by nuns in Spain's monasteries. As you can imagine, Pete and I were oohing and aahing over everything.

We wanted to try some of these delectable treats so we went downstairs. We walked down a narrow flight of stairs to the basement. Once you get down, you realize that the walls, floors and ceilings are made up of huge blocks of stone and the only source of light comes from clusters of candles placed haphazardly by other wanderers. I felt like we were trespassers exploring the underground corridors of a medieval castle, except instead of being thrown into the dungeon, we were served tea and cookies. =) I am so sad I have no pictures of the underground den to share with you, but it was really dark. In fact, it was so much so that I could hardly see the other intruders serving their own sentence of tea and cookies until I sat down and took a good look around. Even at that point, I could only make out forms, but no real faces.

Hovering over the tea lights on our table, Eric looked over the menu and took the liberty of ordering us a small sample of their treats. Here is our plate of almond pastries and cookies.
Here's a shot of Pete's frothy cappuccino. I was really bummed that I couldn't try their orxata, which is not to be confused with horchata, the traditional Mexican drink made from rice. Rather, it's made from chufa nuts (aka earth almond or tiger nut) from Valencia. Apparently, it's only served in the summer. Darn, why couldn't it be summer?
I don't know why I dug this place so much, but I just loved sitting in near darkness, in the den of a stone fortress, eating cookies and discussing random topics with friends, old and new. It's a caelum-ly way to spend a leisurely afternoon, if you ask me.

Carrer de la Palla, 8

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