A Gothic Café in Barcelona

Photo: M. Axelrod

When hot and tired and walking in a strange city there is no better feeling than spotting, in the distance, an unexpected refuge. A spark of hope lights up inside and one either exclaims and points immediately or, more prudently perhaps, catches and then quiets oneself in the superstitious belief that he who names luck is punished by luck vanishing. Your Correspondent cannot remember which tack he took when he spotted Caelum down a small alley in the gothic section of Barcelona, but he either gave lie to the superstition or proved its truth, because the refuge was indeed real.

Caelum is a beautiful cafe. It is simultaneously small and large, simple and yet commercial in a way that doesn’t put off. It sits at the meeting point of two askew streets, capping them and fusing them together into a single alley. Its face is a large glass window with pedestaled pastries and a grand but simple sign above in the style of a Greek shingle. Caelum: simple and elegant. Inside, the cafe’s ground floor is divided into a small shop with delicately packaged pastries and treats for local visitors and foreign tourists, and a small dining area with white wood tables and white wood chairs. Diners select their pastries from the front window display, which is not behind glass and therefore open to the restaurant, lending its contents the look and feel of homemade baked goods on a kitchen countertop. One or two or three young people make coffee from a big, old, espresso machine. The iced machiatto served in a simple clear glass with one large ice cube, making the coffee cold on top and warm at the bottom, is a special delight.

The chocolate cake is good too; cakey and light and tasty. As a whole, Caelum will provide rest and refreshment, girding you and preserving your appetite for the serious culinary trips of a late evening in Barcelona.

Do tour Caelum’s cellar. Its largeness and darkness is a surprise, and the perfect locale for a quiet rendezvous.

c / De la Palla 8
08002 Barcelona
ph: +93 302 69 93

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Correspondent:Matthew Axelrod

Originally from New Jersey, Matt first moved to Cairo to serve in the public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy. He returned a few years later to live on his own as a researcher. While there, he loved hosting his friends and showing them the Cairo not found in tourist books – the best kebab shops, pigeon restaurants, and “stella bars”. Since then, he has always wished for a guide book that would just tell him the best few places to eat and visit in every city. Matt has traveled around the Middle East/North Africa, East Asia, and Russia – he has yet to see Europe, really, and looks forward to very soon. He is currently based in Washington, D.C.

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