Exploring Barcelona - this should have been a bucket list item.
It's a late start with the body clock adjustment and extra long day yesterday but a shot of coffee from the provided expresso machine did the deal and with application of SPF it was out into the warm day. Blue skies, cool shady streets, leafy green trees and around 33 degrees.
There are several ways to tackle a new place. Sometimes you plan your day with a map ( in this case a colourful tourist map thoughtfully provided by management with their hotel carefully circled) and sometimes you look at the map and circle where you actually end up. And that second stratedgy happened today.
I waundered the lanes and streets of Barcelona, they intersect at angles and reach up with 4 stories of stone, rendered concrete and brick work. Gorgeous doors and ornate barred windows, garden boxes spilling out greenery. Shady cool narrow streets with the bright blue sky a thin sliver overhead. Iron work lamp posts with enormous lights. Washing hanging from the balconies. Sometimes they lead to a plaza, (Central Square) maybe with market shops, or a children's playground or lined with restaurants with tablecloths and bright umbrellas, fountains in the middle, towering palms or leafy shade trees making them an oasis. One had a strange shoeless woman drifting around filling the square with her voice - the most incredible operatic style haunting melody. There were avenues of trees, one, La Rambla is filled with people milling around, having their portraits sketched, buying tourist memories at postcard adorned booths, laughing at the crazy mime artists, drinking sangria , eating paella, arguing, gossiping or just sitting under the colourful shaded places watching the world go by.
I found a cool dark bar and with a milk coffee ( apologies to Europe) and a croissant gathered some more energy to walk further, down to the water edge, the Mediterranean Sea. Here there are boats - everything from ocean cruise liners and yachts to day cruise boats. One already to go and laden with girls preparing themselves for the sun.
I stumbled into amazing food markets - fruits piled up high, fresh juices ready to go, frothy combinations of anything you like ( pineapple and coconut was my today's favourite) lollies and nougats, dried meats, cheeses, olives, dried fruits and a particularly perturbing meat shop full of carefully presented offal, skinned goats heads, and rabbits with a dubious bonus of various organs attached.
It is plain joyous to round a corner and have a ancient stone cathedral be there. Or a vintage market. (Susie) Or an art gallery. Or a gelato bar. Or a park with stone dragons pouring water out. Or a man making huge luminesce bubbles by the hundreds with children laughing as they dance in the sunshine and dappled shade to get them. Or a shop full of colour and apparently 70% off. Or a place to hire a little boat to oar around the park lake. Or groups of friends singing and strumming guitars sitting under shady trees. Breathtakingly joyous.
Joel arrived this evening - full of stories and life and we drank sangria on the roof top, catching up on moments we've had and watching the lights of the city. After 11pm we went for dinner finding an amazing Pintxos place down the street. Bruschetta like snacks - breads sliced and weighed down with flavour combinations made in heaven ( or Barcelona in this case) baby eels with salmon caviar and soft cheese, meats with cheeses, tomatoes with ingredients I've never seen before and fell passionately in love with. Olive oils glistening on the plate. But it's after midnight.
And the giddy feeling of a wonderful holiday stretching out in front of me is now being over whelmed by aching feet and exhaustion and maybe some of that delicious sangria.