A Travellerspoint blog

El Mercardo

sunny 21 °C

Every suburban block supposedly offers residents all the variety of shops they need for their daily lives – a bar, a restaurant, a newspaper stand, a hardware store, a hair dresser, a bread shop and a fruit shop. The corner store (even if not on the corner) is alive and well in these older parts of Barcelona. You don’t need a car to go shopping – you can just walk around the block. Every day when we walk a different way somewhere we discover yet another local supermarket or fruit shop but the most interesting place to shop is at the markets.

El Mercat Boqueria in central Barcelona is probably the biggest fruit and veg market I have seen. There a stalls selling every type of fresh and processed food fruit, veg, fish, meat, sausages, cheese, bread, dired herbs, even one whole stall selling chillies of every size, shape and colour. All the veg and fruits are stacked in steep mountains just amazing that they don't all fall down.

Then there are stall of the most tantilising chocolates, sweets, nuts, breads and pastries.

The meat stalls are very daunting, the whole animal is there, skinned and ready to be cut up depending on what part you ask for. I couldn't even recognise the internal organs (brains, intestines, tongues, and hooves perhaps) that were for sale too.

Due to the season and some over-production in the area, there is a glut of strawberries at the moment, so a kilo only cost 1 eruo (about $1.60). Do you know how many strawberries you get in a kilo - a lot! Strawberrries are cheaper than potatoes and onions! This market also did some very nice mixed fruit juices and containers of a variety of mixed fruit salads all ready to eat with a spoon included.

The prices are generally lower, there is more variety and a livelier atmosphere than in the local supermarkets.

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Posted by dworgan 07:10 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Eating out

sunny 24 °C

The Spanish have got the art of eating out down to a fine art.

It is very easy to slip into their way of life and join the masses that choose to eat lunch in restaurants. It is the most important and biggest meal here and a ´Menu del Dia´does it very well. For something between 7 and 9 Euros ($A 12-16) you can fill up for the whole day.

There is usually a first and second course (el primero y segundo plato), bread, dessert and drink. (pan, postres y bebida). The choices are varied in quality but usually substantial and the drinks include anything from beer, wine, soft drink or milkshakes. Salad often features too so it is not all heavy.

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So from about 1.30pm-4pm the restaurants do a busy turn over. It provides the workers with a good meal in the middle of the day, it fills up those hours of siesta when you might not want or be able to go home and it gets you out with the crowd.

In fact the only draw back is that it seems everyone smokes over here. In the cafes, restaurants and bars. I guess the anti-smoking lobby hasn´t made much ground here in Spain yet but aprt from that eating our has been a generally fulfilling experience.

Posted by dworgan 11:43 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Gaudi is everywhere

semi-overcast 21 °C

We are slowly exploring Barcelona and discovering new places even in our own neighbourhood each day.

We visited Park Guell the other day. It is another of Gaudi’s fantastic creations. It is very large – we only saw part – but there are artistic flourishes everywhere. The tile work is extensive and amazing. The buildings are like fairy’s houses with scalloped, tiled roofs and mosaic patterns around the windows. There is a large viewing area with a curved, flowing tiled seat all around the edge. Every part is a different pattern or combination of shapes and colours but it all fits together beautifully. Nothing is as it should be – rough stone pillars that look almost natural except they are repeated again and again. the columns slope, inwards or diagonally, rocks hang down from the ceilings. It is certainly creative, often playful, and even childlike.
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Posted by dworgan 03:07 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

A home at last

overcast 18 °C

Well we found a way through all the red tape and are now locals in Barcelona renting an apartment. It is pretty swish … on the surface. We have a fantastic view from our balcony, living room and bedroom of the Sagrada Familia. They light it up at night too and it looks even better then, because you can’t see the cranes that are working on it or the congestion of buildings between us and it. Now we have got our things scattered around it looks much more like our home. It is pretty comfortable and very quiet.
It is fully furnished so we just have to get food and work out how to use everything. We don’t have a wireless internet connection from our flat though. We must just have very lucky in the hostel, I might take my computer for a walk around the block and to the park and see if I can pick anything up. Directly below us is an internet café (without the café as Max says) and it is pretty cheap – 1 euro ($2) for 1 hour. Max has already spent a fair bit of time there. Also just below us is a good little supermarket and a bar/ restaurant.
We went for a walk yesterday afternoon to a mall area we hadn’t seen before. There were lots of bars and restaurants all with views of Sagrada Familia and leading to an old, ornate and amazing hospital with lots of decorative tiles and towers. It still operates as a hospital apparently but all the grounds are open to the public. There is so much elaborate and different architecture here in general use, it creates a whole artistic atmosphere.

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Posted by dworgan 14:35 Archived in Spain Tagged lodging Comments (1)

House Hunting

rain 15 °C

I knew it wouldn´t be easy but I had forgotten how the Spanish love red tape and beauracracy.
We have been looking for a flat ior ´piso´ on the internet for about a week and our spanish friends have made a lot of calls for us ... but it seems difficult to find a place for 2 or 3 months - much easier for 2 or 3 nights or a whole year. We still have to pay half a month´s commission. We eventually found an agent that deals in temporary leases and they showed us a piso very near the Sagrada Familia - It is a very famous cathedral still being built (started in 1882) by the architect Gaudi.
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So the location is semi- central, very built up and European feel, the price is at the top of our range but still possible. However, the agents keep thinking up new papers we need to present and difficulties. They raised the price 10 euros/ wk too, and we have to pay double deposit as well as an enormous commission. By tomorrow maybe we will have enough money available and also satisfied all they can think of. I think we would all just like to unpack by this stage.

Posted by dworgan 17:08 Archived in Spain Tagged lodging Comments (0)

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