Thursday, 29 May 2014

Barcelona, Spain, Day 19

Day 18, May 29, 2014

Our last day in Barcelona. We were anxious to get out and enjoy the day and realized as we locked the door that we didn’t have breakfast. Oh well, at least we had a coffee. We headed toward the El Gotic neighbourhood and discovered yet another indoor market and had a small snack to tide us over. We walked into a huge building that housed the excavated ruins of the El Born Market circa 1775. It was a market designed after the French model of hygiene and morality. 

El Born Market circa 1775
 The El Born neighbourhood is also the location of the Picasso Museum, which had one of the longest lineups we have seen. We don’t do lineups. We saw the grand entrance of the Cathedral whose interior we explored days ago. 

A passion

Upper window of the Help Museum
Help Museum balcony

Street art

We were searching for a small tapas bar and looked at so many menus before we found a quaint little bar that fit the bill. One tapas of the day (tuna empanadillas) plus a glass of wine for 2.50 Euros. I had been craving anchovies since I had the one in Herceg Novi so we also ordered white anchovies in oil, patatas bravas and chorizo in spicy sauce.

On the way home we stopped in at the Boqueria Market to buy some fixings for our tapas dinner we were going to prepare at our apartment and have with our first sangria, a proper send off.  We also stopped at Carrefour to buy smoked paprika and saffron, key ingredients, so that we could make paella at some point down the road. I already have a variation in mind which will include chicken, shrimp, scallops, and chorizo.  Now we pack.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Barcelona, Spain, Day 17

Day 17, May 28, 2014

Today we decided to explore the district south east of La Rambla and get away from the tourist crowds. We discovered a shop called Oleoteca Gourmet that sold extra virgin Spanish olive oil and olive oil products such as creams and soaps and pastes.  It was a beautiful store with exposed brick. We tried several oils and settled on the fruity one and a delicious olive and sweet red pepper paste. 

The old narrow streets and alley ways are so interesting with their tiny Juliet balconies. They were built so close to keep out the heat of the sun. We are happy to be here during the cool days of early summer. Temps haven’t gone above 19 degrees since we arrived in Barcelona. 

Water taps

View of a side street from our apartment
We passed a store with large wine barrels where you can buy wine by the litre for 1.45 – 1.90 Euros.  A man came in with two of his own containers and got a fill up as we watched in amazement and envy.

The boss

As we strolled, we discovered the Raval Market, the other large market, which they say is priced better than the Boqueria Market. We picked up some yellow chicken and chorizo sausage for dinner tonight.  
So much tastier than home
Fresh meat wrapped like a present in heavy wax paper
with marketing
Then as luck would have it, we found Rambla del Raval, a mini version of La Rambla without the vendors and hordes of tourists. 

A bronze tom cat on Ramla del Raval

Several jacarandas
We were surprised to hear the unmistakable sound of parrots, dozens of green ones making their presence known. I learned they were Monk parakeets, a type of parrot common where ever there are palm trees in Barcelona. 

We found a nice restaurant for lunch in the shade of the many arbutus trees that lined Rambla del Raval. We each had paella and an inexpensive bottle of dry crisp Catalan white wine.   

When we got home I realized we were out of beer.  I popped out to the grocery store, just a few doors down. They only sell Estrella in 6 packs and I just wanted 3, so I bought Carrefour 500ml singles (the name of the store) for .38 Euros each, that is 60 cents Canadian.  It is the winner of the cheapest beer on our trip, a premium lager at 4.7% alc.  Not as good as Estrella, but certainly quenches the thirst and still better than Coors Light (sorry Bruce).

Dinner at home tonight was the tastiest meal we have had on this holiday.  Who would have thought?  I cut up several rashers of the smoked pancetta we brought from Herceg Novi (thank you Ivo and Danica) and fried it up to create the fat to brown the chicken.  I  added sliced chorizo and two cloves of garlic.  Then a half cup of delicious, semi-sweet Catalan Muscat, one of my most expensive wine purchases at 8.60 Euros, and  half-cup of dry Catalan white wine.  Some black kalamata and green Catalan olives and the lid on for half an hour.  The smokiness of the pancetta and the flavour that came out of the chorizo was a marriage made in heaven.  It was a soft chorizo, nothing like what we get at home. We still had a whole wheat bun Jill saved from our last Lufthansa flight, which she toasted and buttered and I used to soak up the sauce. Yum, yum, yum.  

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Barcelona, Spain, Day 16

Day 16, May 27, 2014

It was a slow start to the day - up late working on my blog.  Headed to the market and bought a pound of clams for pasta and Catalan sausages for Jill for lunch before we headed out to search for more Antoni Gaudi buildings. 
All kinds of eggs

All kinds of poultry

Clam pasta
A small restaurant

Today we were looking for Segrada Familia, a church which was started in 1882 and taken over by Gaudi in 1883. It was one quarter finished when Gaudi died in 1926. 
Its construction passed a mid-point in 2010 and is expected to be finished in 2026! It was a 45 minute walk from our place. 

Some buildings along the way
An architect surely inspired by Gaudi

A lovely wide pedestrian friendly boulevard
Pictures of the Sagrada Familia from all sides

The top of one of the spires

The detail was amazing

After two and a half hours of walking we were back to our apartment and ready to snack and relax with some lovely white Catalan wine we have been drinking for 2.50 Euros a bottle. Earlier Jill had been listening to Long Black Veil on YouTube and asked if I could play it for her. I brought my Baby Taylor to keep my finger calluses and it was fun to play some old songs again. 

We settled in for the night with me blogging and Jill reading. I took some pictures off our Juliet balcony. The buzz from the street is constant and carries on late into the evening and early morning. 
Our apartment is on the forth floor, the last two balconies from the top with the rounded glass windows on the right.  A very bright apartment. 
Our view to the buildings across La Rambla
Views down to the street
The centre of La Rambla is for pedestrians only

Not sure why some people need to raise their voices in normal conversation to the point that they wake the dead, but perhaps what they are saying is not appreciated by those they are deafening and are looking for a wider audience.  An irritation for sure. At 4:30 in the morning, a Bruce Cockburn song comes to mind, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”.