02 August, 2010

Back to Barcelona.

Who turns down a chance to go to Barcelona? Not I. So I found myself back on the E15, zipping southward past the stately, snow-capped Pyrénées mountains. In less time than you might expect, I found myself in the vibrant city center.
I love to people-watch. I also love food. The best of all possible situations are when both are combined.
The dynamic energy of the city is due at least in part to the independent-minded Catalans who call it home. This little girl was fascinated with the flower petals and other wedding detritus outside the cathedral.
In place of a wedding, ongoing renovation at the National Cathedral.
After all the wandering, fried boquerones (fresh anchovies) at a nearby cerveseria were a welcome sight. That and the globe-shaped copa of beer.I stumbled across the serene barri goti (Gothic quarter) square where the Sant Felip Neri cathedral sits. The damage on its facade is said to be due to machine-gun fire from executions carried out by pro-Franco troops in 1939.
It's hot in Barcelona in July and August, which is why so many locals head elsewhere in that period. For those remaining, keeping comfortable is key, and even dogs get their turn at the local water fountain. This wasn't the first time for this trio: they clearly anticipated the routine.
This man looked like he's been world-weary since medieval times.
Originally from Valencia, orxata (or horchata in Spanish) is very refreshing way to stay cool. It's made of the juice of tiger nuts (known as chufa) sugar and water. It is served ice-cold, and tastes a bit like lightly sweetened soy milk. The window-watching can go on for some time.
These candies are made by hand in every possible flavor and color permutation. These were, of course, lime and pink grapefruit flavored.
Another pit stop for xurros (piped, fried doughnuts). It is all this specialist makes, other than the hot chocolate to go with it. There are an awful lot of 'x's in Catalan. Luckily, I could use my basic Spanish most everywhere. Thank goodness Barcelonins are patient and friendly!
But where do they go for ingredients to make their delicious finger foods?
In addition to the conventional supermarkets (where you can safely stow your basket on wheels--and apparently your dog--for a coin, as seen below), there are the covered markets, of course.Beyond the famous Mercat de la Boqueria, said to be Barcelona's oldest and largest covered food market, there are dozens and dozens of others, some more modest in scale but heavily frequented by the locals. Some of Spain's world famous ham.
Cooling off the Iberic way. Cashews, some of which have been toasted, dipped in honey and rolled in white sesame seeds. Hungry yet?
More candy than you can shake a toothbrush at.
I was thrilled with the profound sweetness and juiciness of my piece of pineapple, which hydrated sufficiently for me to make one of the more important travel decisions: where to eat.
(To be continued.)


  1. I was wondering how long it would take you to go to Italy; maybe 2 more hours that going to Barcelona? What a gorgeous and fun city!

  2. Hello Nadege,
    I have a serious weakness for Italy. The drive is quite variable, as it all depends on where you want to go in Italy. But your question does make me daydream...even though I just finished having such a blast in Barcelona! Barcelona is really worth visiting--I'm surprised I can say this given the fact that I've just visited in what is considered the most unpleasantly hot period of the year. Would I go back? In a second!

  3. I once asked one of my brothers who has traveled the entire planet and who lived in Paris at the time where he would pick to live and his answer was Barcelona. That was all I needed to know; your amazing photos make me want to go there as soon as possible!

  4. Hello Joumana,
    Your brother's spot on--I'd live there if I could! Visiting is just what you do if you can't live there...

  5. beautiful travelogue...you make us really want to make this our destination for a honeymoon!


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