Monday, January 30, 2012

More birthday entertainment

Rain is something that we seldom see except today, my birthday. We broke out the umbrella and walked down to the Port Vell marina to visit the Replica of Magellan's ship Victoria, which was the first ship to circumnavigate the world. Magellan started out with five ships but the Victoria, a carrack or nao, was the only one to complete the voyage. Magellan himself was killed in the Philippines. Unfortunately, there were no tours in the rain so we wandered around the adjacent displays at the front for the Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon.

Barcelona really lends itself to walking so even in the rain we wandered up Las Ramblas, Barcelona's great tree lined pedestrian promenade filled with flower shops, newsagents and lots of street mime artists. There was even a little Chinese parade with a dragon that rather resembled an iguana.  One of the highlights of a walk in this area is La Boqueria covered market, which is one of my favourite places to visit. At the front are candy stalls with chocolates and every kind and colour of candy that you can imagine. The fruit and vegetables always look as if they have just been freshly picked and the displays just make you want to buy but the best part is the fish. There are huge counters of  Mediterranean shellfish and fish that look as if they have just come out of the water. Magnificent.

A tapas lunch of three types of cheese toasts, patatas bravas and spinach salad with roquefort and walnuts was delicious.  Then it was on to Placa de Gracias, another huge pedestrian walkway filled with shops. For us it was all window shopping except for one indulgence - a Royal Stuart tartan mini skirt in kilt form! On top of leggings it looks great. Who would have thought a mini skirt at my age. I love it.

Tonight's concert, Shi-Yeon Sung conducting the Palau symphony. It was a different group tonight, definitely older. Our seats were perfect for watching Shi-yeon, guest conductor, the 36-year-old South Korean first female assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony. To say she was dynamic doesn't really describe her. She really got the most out of the orchestra when she was conducting Beethoven's Fifth, explosive then soft. Excellent. One funny thing was two men sitting on the same row as the clarinets. I think one was someone to do with the symphony and the other a guest. They just sat there through the whole thing. Did the guest win a prize? Why was he there?

Once again we walked the few blocks back to the Market Cafe for tapas. In fact we had the baby squids again, then a couple of veggie spring rolls and then handmade ravioli filled with taleggio cheese. For dessert we shared a tarte tatin. All this while watching the seven chefs at the open kitchen. This was another different kind of symphony. Another walk and back to the hotel only to find put that our safe wouldn't open. Even the person from the front desk couldn't get it open. We would have to wait until the morning to be reunited with our passports, iPad and keys.

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