6 Septiembre (Lunes) - This place is so quiet after the hotel in Frankfurt. Tried the Nescafé instant, it's marginally better than water.
Another observation: the mens and boys shorts fit a lot better over here. They're cut slimmer than the ghetto shorts in the US.
Did another load of laundry and went to the bank (La Caixa) to get more money. Robb contacted the agency to which he had paid the deposit. They replied that the amount he claimed was too much, but that's what was on the print out the owner showed us, so we're not sure what's going on with that. At any rate, we've decided to pay the full amount the owner is claiming we owe.
After, we walked over to the farmacia where I bought my breathing medicine with no subscription. The pharmacist recognized it immediately and asked how many I wanted. I wasn't really surprised because I had asked a friend to check on whether or not I could get my meds without a prescription in Spain, and he had told me the answer was "yes". I was surprised that it cost less than a third of what I had paid for the same thing in Germany. We left the farmacia and came to Baluard (a bakery) where I took a picture of the pastries and the bread. I had intended to buy some, but then the shop clerks told me I couldn't take pictures of the goods (WTF is that about?), so they lost a sale.
We're sitting here waiting for the owner to show up and collect half of the money we owe (because we could only get €500) and we know she's going to be a bitch about it. She told Robb something about having to go to the hospital to see her mother, so we don't know when she's going to get here. She had told Robb before we got to Spain, that her mother was in the hospital and her husband has been out of work for over a year, so we understand that she's probably desperate for money. Still, there are more civilized ways to go about things.
On the way back to the apartment, we passed this funny sign painted on the side of a building.
Did I forget to mention the brie and paté we bought the other day?
The owner's husband showed up for a few minutes, during which we made our complaints known. The result being that his wife will come tomorrow, fix what's broken and clean the place (it really, really need a good cleaning).
Afterward, I suggested to Robb that we could try to walk down to the Big Fish. I didn't believe for a minuite that I would be able to walk all that distance....but I did. Then we wandered a bit further because I mistakenly thought the MareMagnum was in the area. We finally asked its whereabouts of a taxi driver. It was too far to walk, so we hopped into a taxi and rode over.
The MareMagnum is a huge shopping mall located on the marina at Port Vell. The first thing we did was stop at El Chipirón from which we could see the sky chairs, and get a couple of bastides de frambuesa (kind of like a raspberry milk shake). Then we rode the escalator to the top floor and starting looking around. We were very surprised to find one of our favorite stores that used to be in Paris, Springfield. We entered a store named Jack Jones and Robb bought a nice pair of jeans. We checked out a bunch of other stores but bought nothing else.
We bid farewell to MareMagnum and started walking. When we got to the place the taxi had dropped us off, there were no taxiis to be seen. I looked across the marina and decided, even though it was a long way off, we could make it to Passeig de Joan de Borbó and Carrer de Balboa.
We walked a bit and stopped to rest several times, but we were making it. When we got to Plaça de Pau Vila, we stopped for another 'catch your breath' moment and we were approached by a guy on a rickshaw-like bike thing. I asked "how much" to where we wanted to go. He replied €4. I said, "You're hired". During our ride, we learned that his name is Mike and he's from Liverpool. He and a friend came to Barcelona speaking no Spanish, but he got the job with the bike-shaw because the timing was right. He's learnig Spanish as he works.
We went to dinner at Cheriff. I had my first paella. It was very disappointing and we were ripped off big time. Basically, we were served a big dish of rice with a couple clams and the worst excuse for a lobster tail I've ever seen. If you're ever in Barcelona, DO NOT go to Restaurante Cheriff. My dessert and Robb's dessert was good, but the best part of the evening was the couple sitting behind us. He was a Scot from Edinburgh, she was a German from Stuttgart. We all hit it off immediately.
They asked if there was a better restaurant in the area where they wouldn't be ripped off. I recommended Ca La Montse, just down the street. They went to have a look.
7 Septiembre (Martes) - We walked to La Caixa, about three blocks away, so Robb could get more money. While he was getting his cash, I wandered around a little to see what else was there. Almost next door to the bank was an office for the agency through which we had gotten involved with this apartment.
When we got back to the apartment, Robb got a call from the owner, who was supposed to clean the place today. They exchanged harsh words and we were on the verge of leaving. We walked to the agency office with the intent of gettig another place, but the guy we dealt with managed to smooth things out and resolve the money situation. The owner is supposed to show up around 13h30 to collect the rest of what we owe. This afternoon, she is supposed to send someone to clean the place. I really hope everything goes as scheduled because this is a great area and I really don't want to have to deal with another move.
Okay, the owners showed up at the appointed time and everything has been resolved. Someone is supposed to show up momentarily to clean the place. Of course that means we're stuck here until he/she finishes and leaves. Later: the owners came back with a new toaster and the maid, who is Cuban and very friendly.
After a good, much needed nap, we went out for a short walk around the neighborhood. We found some interesting places and stopped at one (Absenta) for café. Because the weather was so great, we sat on the terrace with a view of the Mediterranean just a couple blocks away Since it was just down the street, we walked down to the beach and sat in a littleplaza for a few minutes just enjoying the beautiful breeze, the beautiful day and the beautiful people. There were a lot ofboats on the Med today and one large cruise boat.
From where we were sitting, we could see the leaning boxes. I've seen these online but still have no idea what they are supposed to be, but we walked down and had a look. Then we came to a fantastic sand sculpture with smoke, fire and running water (how did he do that?).
We walked to the end of the boardwalk, turned towards Passeig de Joan de Borbó and stopped into a Spar (a supermercat by another name), where I bought an umbrella and a Magum White (white chocolate popsicle).
We started walking and felt a few drops of rain, so we ducked into Marisqueria del Port. We ordered canolones and a small botella (bottle) of red wine. We had barely been served the wine, when it started to pour. It was funny watching all the people on the terrace scrambling to get inside. The rain stopped, we finished our dinner and continued the walk home.
We came to another pastry shop where they were selling macarons. Then we came to a nice little square in which was located Església de Sant Miquel del Port. I wanted to take a couple shots of the lamp post and the square but nothing came out. Then I was beset by a coughing spell that I thought would never end. It did and we made out way home.
8 Septiembre (Miércoles) - We slept till early noon, then walked down to El Café del Mercat. Robb had a bacon and cheese sandwich, we both had a café con leches (coffee with milk). Not five feet from us was a large sign indicating Prohibido Fumar (No Smoking), but a couple of minutes later, a man, woman and child came to the café. The adults had barely sat down when they were lighting cigarettes. Smoking indoors is supposed to be prohibited in Spain, but this was not the first time I've seen someone light up in a restaurant.
We left the restaurant and walked up to Passeig de Joan de Borbó, because upon studying my map, I saw that there was supposed to be a metro station on Plaça de Pau Vila, but in all the times we've passed it, we've never seen it. I was determined to find it today, and we did. Not only did we find it, but we discovered that a lot of the metro stations have elevators. (Hello...Paris are you paying attention?) We took the elevator down and found the tiquet (ticket) machines at which to buy our metro/bus passes. There were two different kinds, we chose the shorter one. We each bought one tiquet for 70 rides for two zones. They cost €65 and some change.
We walked along becoming more disappointed with every step. I had been so looking forward to seeing it and it was even more disappointing than the Champs Elysées. We saw some interesting buildings like the Theatre del Liceu, the Dragon Building (the front of the Dragon) and a very detailed building, a statue (Frederick Soler), a fountain and a typical Spanish building. There was a neat lamp post and that was about it. Of course, Las Ramblas is famous for it's people posing like statues, but they were nothing like the pictures I've seen. They were like poor caricatures of what they should have been. Kind of sad really, and most people were just walking past without even looking. There was one last reason to keep going, that was La Boqueria, the king of all mercats. Even that was a bit of a let down. So I'd have to say, Las Ramblas was a waste of time and I'm really glad we didn't get the apartment close to it.
In direct opposition to the rest of the day, dinner at Can Ganassa was great. The resto is in the square, Plaça de la Barceloneta, in front of Església de Sant Miquel del Port. It's a lovely setting, and no matter which direction you're facing, you'll have a great view. Our waiter was very nice, as well as friendly and knowledgeable. I had botifarra amb mongetes i aminida (white beans, sausage and salad), Robb had chocos (fish sticks and salad). We drank Sangria de Cava. The drink was very nice, especially the finish when we got to the fruit in the bottom of the pitcher.
9 Septiembre (Jueves) - I bashed my toe really good this morning. It's not broken, but it really hurts, so I won't be doing any walking around, at least for today. Hopefully, it will be better by tomorrow when Susan joins us in Barcelona.
In the meantime, here are some pictures from around the Barceloneta.
Barcelona's version of city-provided rental bikes, called Bicing.
In spite of my damaged toe, we walked down to Ca La Montse for dinner. I had the mussels and a croquet. Robb had shrimp and a salad. We both decided that wasn't enough and ordered patates brava (potatoes with a luscious sour cream sauce) to share. For dessert, Robb had flan and I had a chocolate sorbet.
You can see all the Barcelona pictures here: Barcelona