…and a final word from Barcelona, where spent a quiet Epiphany holiday. Number young son chose to sleep the day away and Pip and I went for a short walk. Our short walk was not uneventful and featured an older lady face-planting on the road, which was quite terrible really. We dashed over to help her as she lay face down on the road having tripped on the rubber bollards that separate the bike lane from the road to discover her quite bloody and still gripping the King cake and gifts she was obviously taking to her family – half the city was out with cakes and large wrapped gifts and the other half, I assume, was waiting for them to arrive with King cakes and gifts. Our poor lady was bleeding profusely down her lovely cream coat and over the gifts she had with her, another man and I helped her up and took her to a seat, while others called the ambulance and some got tissues from a nearby cafe to hold on her nose, which was expanding and darkening at a surprising rate. We couldn’t provide a great deal of assurance given our lack of the ability to say anything, but kept patting her on the shoulder and looking concerned. She gave the other chap her daughter’s number and he called to explain what had happened and that the ambulancia was on its way. A woman who had grabbed the tissues gleaned that we spoke english and explained her hatred of the bollards, “Bicycles should not come first in the City…”. The klaxon horns sounded, the paramedics arrived and muttered something that sounded like ‘face trauma’ and proceeded to strap her into the gurney, at which point we bid our best wishes and farewells and continued on our way.
We walked on through a rather uninspiring part of the City and Pip decided that she would most benefit from an afternoon nap, so she shot down the subway and headed home, leaving me to explore. Just around the corner from the Subway Pip shot down was a marvelous vista – a wide avenue, lined with fountains and two large towers framing the Museo Nacional de Catalonia way up on the hill behind the mythical, magic fountain which is a source of great pride to Barcelonans. I headed up the avenue, conscious that behind me was the old bullfighting arena, now emasculated and renovated and the venue for “Grease – The Arena Spectacular”. Was it wrong to think for a fleeting moment that perhaps just one little bull might have been saved and let loose during Teen Angel.
The climb up to the Museo, which is on the lower part of Montjuic, near the Miro foundation was grueling and I was constantly in fear of a shoelace getting caught in the escalators, but happily I completed the ascent incident free. The Museo is a fabulous and huge building with a stunning, (should that be ‘simply stunning?) view and an enormous auditorium inside. I didn’t see any of the exhibitions, rather explored the public areas and the bookshops and plonked myself down in the cafe on the front terrace with dozens of others and a salami roll. There’s were buskers and I was entertained by so much more than the music – you gotta love an amplified guitarist playing spanishy versions of popular 1980’s hits on his special guitar with no body and such very sincere and animated emotions – he also looked a bit like a beardy, chubby Mick Molloy. And it was free.
I took a different path down and ended up in the back blocks of the Poble Sec area on a bearing to the Paral-lel bit of the City and stumbled a upon a pedestrian street rich in a restaurants and bars, which was appealing given it was a holiday night. I found a restaurant that had been recommended, but sadly it was closed for the holiday and only open for lunch on Saturday – crossed off the list. I was reaching the 10km limit that my trick ankle seems to have set for itself and decided to head home via the subway, where I found the sleeping household. Number young son has been opting to stay in in the evenings allowing Pip and I some freedom to roam restaurants, so we fed and watered the teen and headed back to the area I had declared ‘discovered’ that afternoon. We found a retro-groovy restaurant (you know, like the young people like) and stayed there even after we learned that it was a Greek restaurant. It was good and tasty Greek – excellent dips and bread, Jamon wrapped around rocket on cheese and bread and a nice wine, and particularly lovely croquettes of blue cheese and pine nuts. Heading home we dropped into the chicken shop on the corner.
The chicken shop on the corner was Pip’s discovery of the day. It seems that chooks and potato are part of the Epiphany Day ‘thing’. The shop has a wall of chickens – I guess inspired by Phil Spector – in that there are two floor-to-ceiling rotisseries – that is, each rotating row of chooks is has another on top of it. Not too amazing in itself, but the amazing part is in the drip tray at the bottom. The dozens of chooks cooking above drip their fatty, juices into a trough at the bottom which is filled with potatoes – soaking/cooking. Pip described how a man ordered some and a cooked chicken was shoved in to the bottom of a foil container whereupon potatoes were scooped (and not with a slotted spoon) onto the top of the bird with a few extra labels of chicken juice for good measure – lid on and deal done. A definite OMG (or OMD as it is here – oh mio dio) moment. Our visit to the shop was for desserts, not chicken and spuds. A foil tray of Dulce de Leche, which is basically cooked condensed milk, a foil container of creme Catalan and a merangue thing best not described here.
Last full day tomorrow.