Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A day in Barcelona on our way to Turkey

It was hard to leave the port this afternoon on a beautiful, warm, sunny day of twenty-four degrees. The sea was a beautiful Mediterranean blue. At last the weather forecast for the next two weeks was as it should be for this time of year. We were on our way by train to Barcelona.

Once we arrived in our usual stomping grounds in Barcelona, the El Born district, we quickly dropped our luggage at the hotel and headed off to explore Barcelona once again. There is always such a vibrant atmosphere here but today with the beautiful weather everyone was out walking. The tourists were in their short shorts, while the locals had abandoned their puffy jackets for short sleeves and sandals.

Revitalised with a quick coffee we headed to the shopping district of Passeig de Gracias. It was mobbed. If you were unaware of the financial crisis in Spain you would never guess there was such a thing. All the shops were really busy. People were carrying lots of packages and the restaurants were busy with everyone sitting outside enjoying the warm sunshine.

We headed over to Las Ramblas passing the beautiful flower stalls and all kinds of hawkers and people posing as statues drawing big crowds. It is an area where you need to be aware of your belongings. Finally we reached the bottom of Las Ramblas crossing the road by the giant statue of Christopher Columbus that looks out over the marina at Port Vell. We headed towards the Maritime museum, hoping to see the museum in its entirety following extensive renovations. Alas, there are many more months of work yet to be completed. We had seen the present exhibit and will come back when the other exhibits are reopened.

We walked along the promenade at Port Vell before heading back towards El Born. One of the best things in Barcelona is exploring by foot. Today we took some 'new to us' narrow roads and passed some newly excavated ruins that had appeared when a building was knocked down. Back in El Born we stopped at a tapas bar for some shrimps and scallops on a skewer and some lovely, cold cider. Lately, we've been drinking the cider as a break from wines that are fourteen and fifteen per cent and very potent.

Finally, dinner in the restaurant at the Santa Caterina market where we always end up sitting at the counter overlooking the open kitchen, where six chefs cook the meals with amazing precision. We started with our favourite baby squids sautéed in oil and garlic with a fried egg on top. Wonderful. This was followed by some crunchy vegetable spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce followed later with a rice dish filled with langoustines, clams and mussels. It is always a delight to eat at this restaurant and watch the food being prepared and served. The day ended with a brisk walk around El Born, where things were only starting to get going. It was eleven o'clock and we had to be up at three thirty to catch our early morning flight to Turkey.

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