Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Ola Barcelona & Mallorca

September 10th, 2016
Barcelona and Mallorca

Well, the first night was a bit of a bomb.  Months before this trip to Barcelona and Mallorca with my boyfriend Stretch and his youngest son Will I had suggested we go to Spoonik. I had read that Spoonik gets booked months in advance and is always packed. It’s where the people in the know go. Spoonik is not very restaurant-y, more like going to a private small dinner party in a cool studio with an open kitchen and a chatty chef explaining each of the eight fantastic courses, as well as how he had jumped from a successful fashion career into  this now thriving restaurant business.

You sure that’s a good idea- we don’t speak Spanish? Stretch asked.

The place is supposed to be phenomenal. It’s the only fun thing I’ve booked. It’ll be great.

Not if we sleep through it it won’t. Never book a special meal – the kind you want to nonchalently boast about when you get home – after a long flight, especially where a non-refundable deposit and an inflexible maitre d’ are involved. Then Stretch evened things out by forgetting to rent a car. And then Stretch evened things out even more by telling the taxi driver in his best Spanish where to take us. Suffice to say that while the National Art Museum of Catalan on the outskirts of town was not where we intended to go, we liked it nonetheless.

It’s always good on a holiday to be prepared and have a just-in-case mantra – the one you learned when things weren’t looking so peachy.  ‘Life is a journey’ is my failsafe fallback. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it. Nora Ephron’s “Everything is copy” is another saviour.

Barcelona is a beautiful, vibrant city by the sea with glistening architectural eye-candy.  I really wish that I’d known Antoni Gaudí, genius master builder of Catalan Modernism – I think I would have really liked him. As he’s no longer around, I made do with his fab buildings which look as fresh and original today as they did a hundred years ago.  Below are a rooftop and a gate from Gaudi’s La Pedrera.



And that’s Stretch below, not Gaudi descending from the heavens.


The Cathedral of Barcelona began construction in 1298. Its central tower was not finished for another six hundred years. Builders!

The line snaked around the corner of  Gaudi’s most famous building, the Sagrada Familia. In the future we’re booking ahead.


Next stop was Mallorca where we stayed at one of those hotels that I’d go back to in a second. Owned by a Swedish-couple, Hotel Portixol overlooks the sea, has a stylish poolside restaurant, contemporary, clean, light-filled bedrooms,  and a laid-back, bohemian-chic vibe. Plus, it’s a pleasant 20 minute walk along the coast to Mallorca’s bustling capital city, Palma.  Be sure and request a room with a terrace facing the Mediterranean.

I had planned to do a bit of shopping in Palma in the the charming Old Town with its ancient buildings and leafy squares.



One shop leading  my list was Rialto Living, touted as one of Europe’s top lifestyle stores with 2,400 square feet of interior design, fashion, art, gifts, books and accessories all under one nifty roof.

Then Stretch told me about his five minute rule.

Why is it that straight men hate shopping, especially when it’s browsing, i.e. no set goal involved? Stretch looked like he should have been in Rio doing the 100 yard dash he was so speedy at Rialto Living. These pics were taken on the fly – literally. (try and spot lanky bf darting ahead.)



I pointed to a whole line of men waiting patiently outside a huge impressive looking Zara on Passei del Born. I’d heard good things about this particular Zara. Stretch glanced at the men sympathetically as if they were sad lions at the zoo.

When I saw how happy Stretch and his son were doing man things like bouncing behind a boat,


or hurling themselves off of a cliff  (Stretch’s back hurt from the boating adventure so he abstained)



I decided to channel my inner goodness from deep, deep inside me. As long as I didn’t have to commit hari-kari, I was happy to spectate. Life is journey, and here is the copy.

An area where our interests do align with the stars is the sport of eating and drinking. Our favourite night spot was La Bodeguilla, a chic wine plus food spot on Carrer de Sant Jaume,


the same cobblestone street as our next favourite dining discovery, Tast Club.


La Bodeguilla is a cosy restaurant with delicious food and an extensive, affordable wine list, while Tast Club (tip from my friend designer Willie Yeoward) is more about the chic interiors and hip atmosphere. The iberico jamon is delish at both.

While in Palma don’t miss the Miro Museum. Check out the Spanish artist’s perfectly preserved studio next door and contemplate how he created his magnificent works.



September, 2016