A Travellerspoint blog

Barcelona: June 24

sunny 26 °C

Remember in Hong Kong we arrived on the occasion of a festival and they held the Dragon Parade in our honour? Well, we arrived in Barcelona on the 23rd. That night Barcelona partied on until dawn with dancing, drinking and firecrackers. They say it is something to do with St John's day, (Sant Joan). Apparently fire symbolises a purifying and curative element. In the afternoon we witnessed the beginning of the festival with police escorting various locals and community groups through the streets. This included a small contingent of scouts with a little tacker running in front holding a stick and a perpetual flame. Every car passing by felt obliged to honk their horn. The celebration is also linked to the summer solstice. It did seem to be a lot of effort just to welcome us to this great city.

The fireworks persisted over the night. What puzzles me is that there wasn't the slightest sign of a hangover or a hard night on any of the faces of the young or less than young the following day. Perhaps their firewater is different here.

We have heard people comment on how Barcelonians pronounce the word Barcelona. To me it sounds like "bath-a-loner" and you are responsible for any visual imagery as you think those words. Point is we haven't heard it pronounced like that yet, although I am getting harder of hearing.

Our host explained that because of the late night, breakfast would start at 10 am instead of 9 am. That was okay with us. After a pleasant and contemplative breakfast we made an unusual decision to get on a tourist bus to see the city and some of the Gaudi sites. This is an on-off bus with several stops around the city. If you're quick enough or patient enough you can sit on the top level which has no roof.

I knew it was going to be a hot day. I looked up on the bus I noticed the seagulls and the swallows above not flapping their wings, they were just soaring on the thermal uprisings.

You have heard me whinging about crappy architecture across the planet and I think this Antoni Gaudi guy was onto something. I liked his sense of organic curvatures which are seen in various buildings across the city and in particular in Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. I'm in love with this guy, really like his architecture and other designs.

Entrance to Parc Guell:
View from Parc Guell, notice the tiles and curves:
Harpist in Parc Guell:
Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral:
Gaudi's residence in Parc Guell:

This was like being beneath a scaly centipede:

At the park we had been warned about the prevalence of pickpockets and we heard they were on task. We reckon on the train coming into Barcelona we outwitted a couple and we picked one or two at the park this day, sorry I should have said recognised one or two.

Back to the architecture, the French and Spanish along with Australians do ugly urban areas equally as well as each other. End of whinge.

We had decided we would reward our efforts in the hot sun with a walk through the market and a lunch at the bar. Today was a bank holiday (read that recovery day) and even the market was closed! Nostrils flared we just decided to follow them and instead ended up following our ears as we tracked down the source of what sounded like my new favourite instrument, a hang drum, and my second favourite instrument, the soaring tones of a clear female voice. As we turned the corner there they were playing. We bought a couple of CDs from this amateur couple. Later at a guesthouse when we bothered to read the cover and found the hang drummer had the name of Robert Garrett, was lanky and tall and bald, and looked freakishly like Peter's long lost brother.

Hangdrummer; I was entranced so I forgot to line up the camera well:

We noticed diners on a terrace above them, noticed the menu was different to what we wanted but we were desperate for cold bubbles and some food. It turned out to be a ho-hum move for Karen although with one inspiration, and a good move for me. Karen's dish was accompanied with what we think was shaved dry roasted coconut. Quite yummy. I was taken by the menu item listed as codfish with burnt young garlic gratin. If anybody says "burnt young garlic" to me I am theirs. I will even wash your floors for a week.

We are fairly quick learners so after finishing this late lunch around four o'clock we hit home for a siesta.

Afterwards we rose for a walk and dinner in that order. A fairly long walk to the beach, it was hot and crowded but we felt we had to check it out. There were the usual market stalls; Africans selling sunglasses and bags and moving according to the flow of sales; dawdlers, lovers and cyclists and a reasonable police and municipal presence. They have a port police as well and you will love the writing on their cars. They are known as 'gardamolls' (I am not joking on this one).

Once we got to the beach it was crowded. We sussed out a small bar on the beach, grabbed a vacant table and began to realise that in the shade the breeze was quite cool. It was here that Karen fell in love with a Jamaican with a sugary minty kiss. His name was mojito. He was made of rum, ice, a bucket full of mint leaves, sugar and in this case a lemon. I settled for coke and then a beer.

Later in the Gothic quarter (Barri Gotic) we tracked down another tapas bar which turned out to be okay but a little disappointing. We did however draw inspiration. One of the tapas we tried was shaved fried artichoke leaves, interesting. Karen very much like the cava the barman recommended. We were sitting at the bar liked a couple of food and drink groupies. Later I tried the lemon sorbet with oruja ('Galician firewater' was written on the menu). We were offered a taste of this first and although similar to Slivovitz it was different. A quick chat to my friend at Wikipedia revealed it is made from grape skins, seeds and stalks after the grapes have been crushed for their juice. This was not the inspiration. Inspiration came from the way the orujo seemed to merge really well with the taste of slightly sweet lemon sorbet. Galician yummeralda.

Karen ordered some profiteroles which were a little ho-hum unlike the sherry which she really liked. The barman liked us so much afterwards he gave us a taste of their green herbal liqueur which had a likeness to Chartreuse. Not sure why he offered the couple next to us the same drink.

Around 10:30 we wandered back. The occasional firecracker was still to be heard and at 11 pm the church bells attempted to lullaby us into smiling sleep.

Posted by lesnkaren 07:20 Archived in Spain

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint