I feel like a cross between a cool teenager and a spy as I stride down narrow streets in Barcelona
's Barri Gotic in search of a secret hideaway---the location of Afternoon Tea by Albion is only confirmed after you make a reservation, and even then, not very far in advance. Behind a massive wooden door light filters into a stone patio where guests that arrived before me socialize in a heady mix of English, Spanish and Catalan over Pims. Like the awkward teenager and twenty-something I was, and introverted 30-something I still am, I introduce myself when prodded, but prefer to listen to everyone else's conversations while I check out the space. It's airy with vaulted ceilings and worn stone floors warmed up with throw rugs. The white paint flakes, framing original artwork and hanging plants. The table settings are whimsical but proper---unfortunately, I'm not. When I notice that I'm using my cup without its saucer and my saucer instead of my plate, I've already smeared jam and clotted cream from my scone on the saucer, and spotted the tablecloth with tea. Fortunately, as a nod to local custom, perhaps, this traditional tea is served with copious amounts of cava, so despite my gaffs, not to mention consuming thousands of calories in finger sandwiches and sweets, I'm feeling no pain.