Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barcelona - last moments

Sadly, tomorrow I will leave Barcelona. My last day and evening here was good. After I dropped the bike off in bustling Catalunya Square I walked down La Rambla, sampling the frenetic nightlife and amazing performance art that is found there. As I've mentioned in other entries, I've really enjoyed the craziness and hectic pace of the cities I've visited. I spent 10 years in Boston back in the 70s and can recall how excited I was during my first few years there to be living in such a vibrant, exciting and culturally diverse city. I have again gotten a sense of that in my visits to these big European cities.

As I said on Facebook yesterday, La Rambla rules! It's totally cool. It is a fantastic concentration of art, street performers, restaurants, souvenir shops, and, as I discovered today, food markets. I love to eat and consequently love a good market. When KJ and I moved to Alaska back in 1983 we got there via a very log roundabout road trip during which we spent a month in Mexico. We loved the mercados for their ethnic offerings and ready to eat food, This mercat on La Rambla was similar to those we loved in Mexico. Every conceivable type of seafood, vegetable, or meat product was on display and beautifully arranged. What a welcome contrast to our sterile supermarkets!

Below are some prawns and clams. I have no idea which ocean they came from but they look very edible, don't you think?

In the U.S. all of our meat is prepackaged so we can't connect with the fact that an animal has died to provide us with food. My old Boston friend Gregg mentioned in a post on Facebook yesterday that Spanish paella always seems to contain "eyes" and I must agree. But today in the mercat on La Rambla I saw this. Care for a fresh sheep's head anyone?

 As a contrast to the photo above, here's a photo of a music store whose name I've gotta like:

Okay, back to the market. Here's a shot of some unusual meat and poultry for sale:

I ate some tapas at a restaurant on La Rambla but now I wish I'd waited to get back to Plaza Reial because while the food was good, it wasn't great, and the waiter loaded me up with more food than I needed. I didn't realize until after the meal that I could have specified fewer pieces or smaller quantities of each item, so the meal ended up costing me 33 euros (2 beers at 8 euros each are included in the total), a fairly expensive meal. It's shown below. Pictured (in clockwise order) are pickled mushrooms (upper right), crab cakes, some sort of pork stew, and a tasty compote of pork and beans (not Campbell's style).

Below is probably the last picture I'll post of Barcelona. Everyone is trimming up for the holidays. Many streets in Barcelona are decorated more heavily than this one, which happens to be near my hotel, but I think this photo will serve as a fitting end to my visit to this wonderful city.

I'm headed to Valencia tomorrow. I'll be in touch.