I left you on the last post with a lovely street scene. We were on our way back to our apartment and lunch.
We did not always eat out at a restaurant when we were hungry. One of the nice things about the location of our apartment was that within a five minute walk there was a square that was surrounded by restaurants and bars, and a similar distance away there was a street with a farmer’s market and numerous other shops. Along the way to either of these sites you walked past small supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, boutiques, a place where you could buy flooring, and numerous bars and restaurants.
Barcelona, like many other large European cities, does not believe in zoning ordinances or in separating residential areas from commercial ones. What could be more convenient than walking two doors down from your place of residence to acquire what you need for dinner? Is it REALLY more convenient to have to drive several miles to the shopping center or mall? Okay, I could get on a soap box here, but I feel strongly that the idea of being able to shop where you live makes a LOT of sense.
So, the first day we were in Barcelona, right after we checked in to our apartment, we walked over to the farmer’s market and laid in a few supplies. It was truly an amazing place, filled with stalls that sold everything from books to baked goods.
It seemed to be organized in sections. The one you are looking at above was the produce section, but just around the corner was the fish market. This is just one of the stalls. There were several dozen different shops selling every kind of fish and seafood you could possibly think of. Some I did not recognize…
There were several stalls that specialized in eggs. This was my favorite. She had quail eggs, hen eggs, duck eggs, emu eggs, ostrich eggs, every kind of egg you could think of. And it was so beautifully arranged.
This was Jim’s favorite stall, selling all sorts of olives and pickles.
Well, maybe not his favorite. He liked the cheese and sausage spot too. We bought some fruit and a few veggies, cheese and sausage. Down the street in the dairy store we found amazing yogurt, and further along there was a bakery where we acquired a baguette. We were set for in house meals.
The produce stalls at this market did not suffer from the problem we find at our supermarkets, where the apples and tomatoes get bruised from being picked up and put down. No one touches the produce except the proprietor. You tell them what they want, they pick it up and package it for you. You get lots of extra points and approval if you have your own shopping bag, like a proper European.
One of the places we came across on line while we were planning our trip was the Bodega E. Marin.
It doesn’t look like much, but the place is lined from floor to ceiling with wine and spirits. That little table to the right in the doorway? We witnessed a couple of workmen who were on their way to work who stopped off and bought a bit of grappa and an espresso, then drank their beverages at that little shelf before picking up their tool bags and heading off to their job.
This establishment is run by a gentleman who goes out to the wineries in the region and buys barrels of wine. He brings them back to his shop and sells wine straight out of the barrel. You can bring your own bottle, or he will sell you one. This is what some of the collection of barrels looks like.
This whole idea intrigued us, as you can well imagine, and so we visited Bodega E. Marin and sampled some wine and bought a bottle to take aboard the ship when we started our cruise. This transaction was complicated by the fact that the gentleman who owns the bodega is fluent in Catalan, has a little Spanish and no English, while I am fluent in English, have a decent Spanish, and no Catalan. However, with good will, pointing, and baby Spanish we were able to complete our transaction.
This is a shot of Jim waiting while the proprietor pulls the wine we chose from the barrel. Note the espresso machine on the right.
This is his tap arrangement. All those barrels of wine are connected to this by tubing.
It was a LOT of fun to buy wine this way. We got 1.5 liters of quite good wine, a bottle, and a glass of wine (we had to buy the glass we tasted) for slightly less than 5 Euros, which worked out to about $6 American with the exchange rate. Pretty good deal, and we participated in a unique Barcelona experience.
Barcelona has rather unique experiences everywhere. Down at the beach there are people who do sand sculptures. They earn a little money by accepting donations from passersby, just like buskers. Here is a real fire breathing dragon. Yes, I put money in his box!
Public art is every where. This is a large sculpture in a square paying homage to Miró, another very famous artist who lived in Barcelona.
And along the beachfront, a huge sculpture of a fish. No purpose except to be really cool.
After enjoying some bread and cheese and fruit at our apartment, we ventured out again to explore the Old City. This is a section of narrow streets that are completely dedicated to pedestrians. You could easily lose your way in this maze of narrow twisting streets.
This was the scene outside one of the little bars that were all over this section of the city. The man who owned the place was dancing an impromptu flamenco. I loved the sign.
Part of the reason we wanted to explore this part of Barcelona was because this was where there is a section of the original Roman wall that enclosed the city way back before there was a Spain or Barcelona…
We found it. There was also a section near a square, and we were fascinated by the way the city grew up around the wall and incorporated it. You can see the old arches of the city gates within the structure of the wall.
For a second, look at a couple of pictures in this post and note the wonderful granite and basalt stones that the streets of the Old Quarter are made of. I had reason to discover on this trip that stone is harder than kneecaps. I missed a curb that afternoon, after successfully negotiating Park Güell and all the walking to and fro.
When I fell, I heard my lovely new camera smack against the pavement. When I looked up from the shocking fall, I found myself surrounded by concerned residents and tourists. I was asked in at least four languages if I needed an ambulance.
I reassured everyone that I was not in need of transport to a hospital, and with great concern tried to see if the camera was broken or not.
“We can buy cameras everywhere. I’m pretty sure they are for sale in Barcelona,” my loving spouse told me with a certain amount of asperity. “How are YOU?”
“Oh, I’m okay, I think,” was my response. “My knee hurts, though.” It quickly became evident that my knee was progressing expeditiously from “hurt” to “agonizing.” We started walking towards the metro so we could go home, immediately shelving all ideas of stopping for a drink. Within moments my massage therapist training kicked in, though, and I told Jim I thought I ought to try to get some ice on my knee PDQ. Where to get ice?
We came across a bar, and my thought was that a bar serving drinks was going to have ice available. As soon as I crossed the threshold, though, I knew that establishment was not going to be able to help me. They were slammed, full of people wanting their afternoon refreshment. The waiters were rushing about madly. We left the place without bothering them. Right next door was one of the small restaurants that were everywhere in Barcelona. They had no customers at all.
We went in. I was doing very well with my high school spanish until I tried to excavate the operative word for what it was I needed from the depths of my memory. The proprietress really wanted to know what it was I was in need of, but the shock and pain of my injury caused the word for ice (hielo) to disappear from my mind. I was floundering, near to tears by this time. All I could think of to do was pull up my pants leg and show her my knee.
Well! That was the perfect thing to do. “Sientese!” she commanded, adding “Usted necesita hielo!” Yep, I did! She bustled around the bar and brought me ice immediately, along with some napkins to mop up the melt water. Once she got me settled, and I was apologizing for the mess, I was ordered to “No te preocupa.” (Don’t worry) A rapid fire series of orders were issued to her husband, who disappeared for a short while and returned with a chunk of very cold ice from their deep freeze, which was probably located in a different building entirely.
Eventually, I decided that I really needed a mojito, so we ordered a couple. They were excellent! Meanwhile, the restaurant filled with customers, which made me very happy to see how their kindness and generosity was being rewarded by the universe.
After enjoying our drinks, we expressed our gratitude profusely to our generous hostess, who brushed it off as of course it was the right thing to do. So we made our way home on the metro, and I was extremely grateful for the Barcelonan custom of youngsters giving their seats up to their elders. I really needed to sit. The 61 stairs up to the apartment were a real purgatory, and while I rested Jim went off to buy more ice from the little supermarket across the street.
After the cruise, when we got home, after I had limped me way through Malaga, Gibraltar, Funchal and our cruise, I went off to the doctor and found out that my fall had actually fractured my knee cap, and bruised the meniscus and joint capsule as well. No wonder it hurt so much for so long.
I’m fine now. But I don’t recommend the personal experience of finding out just how hard stone paving is in relation to tissue and bone.