Well, it looks like that’s it for the running. I feel guilty because my friend Christina ran every day while she was in Barcelona. But she’s a better woman than I am! We’re walking so much each day that my feet really hurt. I have a physical therapy session planned for August 4 to deal with my arch pain. So I need to lay off the AM jogs. I thought about wearing my GPS to log the miles we’re walking all day, but let’s just call them 5 milers. I think we’ll be okay.
We got up without an alarm (thank heavens) and went downstairs for the first of our breakfasts at the hotel. It was so nice to have a carafe of coffee after weeks of the café allongé we had in France, which is basically espresso but brewed with more water. We also had croissants, egg pie, and fruit.
Then we took our first adventure on the subway. Here I had my second “attack reaction” of the Barcelona trip, which I attributed to still being a little uptight over being attacked in Marseille. We were buying tickets at the machine when a man came up behind us and said “What is the problem?” I’m not sure where in my mind it made sense that he might rob us, but for a moment I was terrified. Soon I realized he was recommending that we buy a different type of ticket that would give us a discount. I decided to take this as a life lesson: always prepare yourself for kindness.
The first “attack reaction” had happened the day before when John stopped in a store just for a moment as I walked 2 blocks back to the hotel. At a stop light two men in front of me turned around abruptly and said, “Hablo anglais?” I clutched my purse and prepared to lie. I guess I nodded a little because one of the men said, “Oh thank goodness. We’re lost! Do you know where La Rambla is?” That’s when I realized they were two American college kids—not low profile pickpockets. I sure hope that after a few theft-free days in Barcelona I’ll be back to normal. I have traveled with composure in much more dangerous places.
So we took the subway, which was clean, efficient, and fun! I love trains. It was about the 100th thing on the trip that made me want to move to a new city. We got to the Sagrada Familia, where we paid 12 Euros to get in (I’d like to know who wrote the rule that everything in Europe costs 12 Euros). I am not even going to try to describe this to you. The best thing I can tell you is go pay your 12 Euros and see the thing. Gaudi was killed by a tram car before the building was finished, and then many of the plans were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War. But to visit this place is to live for a short moment in Gaudi’s brain, which is as strange and brilliant a place as I’ve ever been.
We continued the Gaudi tour by walking down the Passeig de Gracia where he has several buildings, all the way down to the Boqueria. Have I told you lately how much I love markets? If I had only seen the Boqueria, my trip to Barcelona would have been worth it. Our first stop was at Pinoxto, a tapas bar teeming with people even at noon, which is well before most people eat lunch. We ordered two dishes: squid with white beans, and garbanzos and blood sausage. So delicious. Then we walked around the market some more. There’s nothing more exciting than the artisanal cheeses, the colorful fruits and vegetables, endless varieties of meat and fish. I don’t even need to buy anything to enjoy a market. It’s a gift to simply look. We made our way to the second recommended tapas bar in the market: El Quim. We ordered the seafood platter and thank heavens we did. This is certainly one we would love to recreate at home: razor clams, mussels, fish, shrimp, oysters.
Back at home it was time for a nap, and then massage appointments. I thought about asking Javier to spend all 45 minutes on my feet. I didn’t, and the massage went well anyway. Then John came in for his massage, and I sat outside in the courtyard listening to a person practicing the clarinet in a neighboring apartment as I lounged in a hammock staring at the blue sky.
That evening we went for dinner at a tapas bar John read about in the New York Times and was dying to try. We got there at 8, but we had to wait about 45 minutes to get a seat. It was so worth it. We had eggplant with molasses, olives, potatoes bravas, and olives with anchovies. We walked home and read for just a bit before falling asleep.