The weather here is beautiful – about 14 or 15C during the sunny days and down to 8 or 9 at night – and that put us in the mood for walking. I’ve mentioned before that Barcelona appears to sport an Jamon driven economy and with that in mind we headed for the Sant Antoni Market, a few blocks from our place. Apart from more hams, this market promised less tourists and more ‘get down and dirty’, in your face kind of market and I’m sure that’s what we would have got if the Mercat wasn’t closed for renovations. Still, not being ones o waste the opportunity for a quick coffee, we nipped into a nearby cafe and expertly (for we can order expertly now) ordered dos cafes cortados, cafe con Leche for the lad, a chocolate croissant and, we found it hard to believe – a xuxos! Yes – our first encounter with the deadly xuxos since 1986 and oh what a catch-up it was. These little fried, hollow, crunchy donuts filled with Catalan creme we’re everything we remembered them to be – happily, number young son has a dislike of custardy desserts and didn’t want his portion.
After re-composing ourselves and paying the ridiculous €6.50 for 3 coffees and two pastries, we headed back out into the street and got about half a block before a beautiful window of canned food caught our eyes. This was something of problem for us because the beautiful shop (inside was even beautifuller) was run by the first man we had struck with absolutely no English. Our problem of course, but we so wanted to buy things we had to ask for and things we had to scramble around in the iPhone app for the words for that all we could communicate was that we were sorry. Pip’s sorrow led her to grab a beautiful paper cone filled with something that she couldn’t ask about which she bought and which, when we opened it out in the street, we still didn’t know what it was. It smelled like dried meat and it looked like grey sawdust – so we put it back in Pip’s back till we got home to do some research. The road we had chosen took us past chic micro-breweries and bars and on into the electronics section of town, where number young son had a conniption until he could spend that burning money in his pocket on a pair of headphones.
We walked on through beautiful lanes and streets; passed by dozens of shops decorated by legs of Jamon alone; drooled at the bakery windows; and, tried to spot the little crapping man that Barcelonans place in their model nativity scenes. (I kid you not – look it up). Our walk took us back through the gorgeous lanes of the Bari Gothic section which is filled with funky shops selling everything from high fashion to dope seeds, oh, and goth clothes by the bucket load. Oddly, I haven’t seen any Goths around. We criss-crossed the Rambla and worked our way down until the cool shops started morphing into phone shops and the corners started to be adorned with impossibly blonde ladies – leaning. Seizing an opportunity to undertake a swift u-turn we headed back up where belonged in the area where impossible blonde is replaced by impossible cool and places like Casa Camper, a hotel by the famous cobblers, draw longing looks from all who pass. Late lunch at a tiny delicatessen and more walking back up to the top of La Rambla in search of ice creams and a seat by this stage. Damn – the dog boy again. Instead of ice cream, we chose to sit at the extraordinarily large Cafe Zurich at Placa Catalunya and sip afternoon coffees and it pleases me to report that number young son has developed the taste for it – I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with him. It’s like school – you tell yourself that all kids develope at different rates, but you can’t help but wonder…
We shopped at the immense supermarket beneath the immense El Corte Inglese, rather than the tiny Mercadona around the corner from our house hoping for dinner inspiration, which eventually came in the form of pork chops and eggplant. On a macabre note (from the Australian perspective at least), the piglet and the bunny can be seen in all their forms in the Catalan supermarket – whole and wrapped in plastic, Laura Palmer style; whole and roasted in the deli window; logtitudanally halved and vacuum-packed in the meat section; minced into either sausages, salami, pâté, terrine, pie or a myriad other salumi. Laden with groceries it was a natural choice to cab it home (the cab cost about the same as the subway for the three of us) and prepare a recovery evening at home – well, all this walking needs foot and leg maintenance.