Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back to Barcelona

Friday morning and another tramuntana wind is blowing but we are off to Barcelona passing the lovely white rollers in the port with hardly a glance. After a slow journey finally passing an old truck laden with grapes we are at the train station.

Two hours later we emerge at Passeig de Gracia to brilliant sunshine and no wind. After checking into our hotel, and fortified with the first coffee of the day, we are off to browse the shops on the Passeig. First we walk through the main square in El Born listening to the jazz band at the far end of the square. Passing through squares with young drum players, more jazz and a violinist we reach our destination. Sometimes Barcelona is a must for us to buy things unattainable elsewhere. After new jeans for Seamus, hemmed in forty minutes, it is lunchtime.

We cross the teaming crowds of tourists on Las Ramblas and head to Bar Lobo, a good spot for lunch. The former chef at the El Born Santa Caterina market is now there and the food is really good. Seamus started with a dish of lightly scrambled eggs with little pieces of cod and I had a caesar salad with an olive oil, balsamic and yogurt dressing that was excellent, not tart, not bitter. This was followed by grilled tuna and eggplant compote. Mouth watering good. All this was topped off with very moist plum cake. A lovely lunch.

A short walk and we were in La Boqueria market, the main market of Barcelona. It is always such a joy to visit here. Today we were in search of chili peppers that we can't find locally. There they were hanging up already dried. But we thought 23€ for the bunch was a bit much so instead opted for two packages for 2€ that we will dry ourselves. We also bought the biggest, sweet fresh dates imaginable. So tasty. Our shopping completed we walked around the market admiring the huge shrimp, fresh fish, all kinds of cuts of veal and wonderful fruit and vegetables. The latest thing in the market is the array of fresh fruit and vegetable juices of every kind and colour. We were very good in passing up on all the chocolates and candy on display.

Finally, it was back to the Passeig for a bit more shopping stopping and street entertainment. By the time we looked at the little shops in El Born we were glad to be back at the hotel if just to cool down.

Once again we had dinner at Santa Caterina Cuina, an amazing restaurant in the Santa Caterina market. It was grilled calamari for Seamus topped with thin slices of just grilled asparagus. I had my favourite grilled tiny, baby squids topped with an egg. Oh so good.

After another walk we ended up in the tree-lined square in El Born, where a band was about to play. We found a stone bench where we sat until the beginning of the concert, just people watching, young and old from all over. The usual men were selling cans of beer to anyone interested. I can never figure this out as you can just buy the beer in a bar or at the  kiosk by the stage. A tiny girl was covered in gelato, which she was totally enjoying. Even though it was nearly midnight, it was very hot. Finally, after much talking in Catalan, the band started but sadly, it wasn't really our type of music so our busy day in Barcelona ended there.

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