3 Septiembre (Viernes) - Hola desde Barcelona. The mix-up with the flight to Barcelona was finally resolved. Vincent reminded Robb that he had purchased a round trip ticket because it was less than a one-way ticket and Robb had forgotten that. But we still were scheduled to fly at 07h55 which meant we had to be at the airport by 05h55, which in turn meant that we had to be up by 04h30. Somehow we did it, though we were extremely tired.
A new problem arose when we got to Barcelona. Neither of us had written down the address of the place and we couldn't get into our computers at the airport because it wouldn't accept our passwords. We found a terminal that would let us on the internet for fifteen minutes for only €1. By the time we got on and got the address, it was after 13h00. Robb called the owner, told her we were on our way and we got a taxi, but the driver didn't recognize the address. We called the owner again and found that the address was different than the one we had.
The apartment is on an alley-like street and is nowhere near as nice as the pictures would indicate. Then we had a further problem with the owner because she expected full payment on arrival. Robb had already paid about €550 to the agency, but after he paid it, she quit the agency and apparently they never gave her the deposit and she wanted Robb to pay it again. He would not. But he did go to an ATM (getting lost in the process) and got almost enough to pay the difference. There was a problem with the ATM; it would only let him have €100 at a time. He managed to come up with almost €300, but the owner was adamant that she would have the whole thing. They went to another ATM together and somehow managed to get another €500, but she was insisting that it wasn't enough. For the moment, we are ensconsed in the apartment, but we're not sure how this is going to work itself out in the long run.
On top of all that, the owner left and forgot her wallet with all the money in it.
As we usually do, we walked down to the corner market and bought some essentials; coffee, milk, sugar and orange juice. The only milk being sold there is the non-refrigerated kind. It's really very tasty.
And we busted another myth on the very first day. As long as I can remember, I've been told that people in Spain go to dinner around midnight (Medianoche). We went out for what we thought was an early dinner around 22h30. Every thing was closing. We walked down to Passeig de Joan de Borbó (the closest thing to a main drag) where we found a few things open, but nothing we liked. Then we decided to go back to an open store we had seen on the way to Passeig de Joan de Borbó, but by the time we got there, they had closed also. So forget all that stuff you hear about the Spanish eating so late and for several hours.
4 Septiembre (Sábado) - We walked out into a world bathed in sunshine and warm, but not hot, temperatures. Our purpose was to check out the Mercat (a huge mall-like place that sells all kinds of seafood, cheese, meat and veggies) a couple of blocks down the carrer and across the street from Can Ramonet (a restaurant) with a nice terrace section. The first thing we saw upon entering was a place to recycle batteries. The second thing we saw was El Café del Mercat, where we could have a café con leche and a croissant for only €2.50. We noticed sitting there, that the Spaniards are very noisy people, and just about everyone who came into the market knew everyone else. After our breakfast, we walked around the entire place, stopping at one stand where Robb bought a couple cans of olives (they're delicious) and a small jar of white asparagus (esparragos). Then we found there was a good sized supermarket there. We entered that and bought some things we needed or wanted.
Back at the apartment, I rested for a while, then we walked to the little market just at the end of the block to buy washing machine detergent because we didn't find it at the Mercat. We did a load of white stuff and I uploaded my pictures to Flickr.
Around 18h00, we went out for a walk. Saw some neat stuff like this ship-like building, a neat fountain (there were three of them in front ot the ship building), an interestig building between two modern buildings. We walked around the ship building and came to a group of people taking photos They seemed to be a photo club. We passed a football field where the Barceloneta team was practicing. We continued walking and came to La Fabrica del Sol, a great looking building. Behind that was a park area with people all over the place and a lot of dogs. We walked through there and saw a bunch of pigeons. But as we got closer, we could see they weren't all pigeons. Several of them were cockateels (or whatever those little parrot-like birds are called) and I noticed that one of them was wearing a tag around its neck.
We continued walking through the park, coming to a statue of Simon Bolivar. We walked across the street and, at 19h00, came face to face with the Mediterranean Sea. How cool is that? We walked from our apartment to the Med. It was teeming with people. Ever since we got here, I've been looking forward to seeing the Big Fish, as I call it. It was just to the left of where we were standing. We hung out there for awhile, then returned to the apartment.
Dinner tonight was at Ca La Montse. We had the fixed price dinner, six tapas dishes for two for €22 and a bottle of cava (Spanish champagne) at €20. Somehow, the bill was only €32. They brought so much food to to the table, there was no way we were going to eat it all. Neither Robb nor I recognized most of the things on the menu, so we let the waitress chose the dishes. This is my interpretation of what we had: fried calamari (the only thing on the menu I actually recognized), potato salad, mussels in a fantastic sauce, either sardines or anchovies (which ever they were, they definitely were not from a can), baby octopus (surprisingly delicious) and home-fry potatoes with a delicious sour cream sauce. The waitress seemed surprised that we couldn't eat it all.
Ladies, you may want to skip this part of the entry. Back at the apartment, I was watching TV half-heartedly while writig this entry, when my attention was grabbed by a commercial for a dildo, you've got to love the expression on her face. Yep, I said dildo. And they weren't satisfied with just selling it, they had to show how to use it. I can just imagine the religious nuts in the US seeing that during the late, late show.
5 Septiembre (Domingo) - We discovered today, that the toaster doesn't work, so that certainly screws up our breakfast plans. Or, hopefully, we just don't kow how to turn it on (I whispered 'I love you', but it didn't work). Also, there's no way to make coffee because the only coffee maker here is the kind that makes espresso and it's disgustingly filthy. We tried to clean it but it's a no go. We decided to have some tea and do some laundry (a couple pairs of jeans). Then we went out for a walk.
We found a little store up the street that was open (run by an Arab of some sort who was listening to a religious service on the radio) and we bought a small jar of Nescafé instant coffee. We're hoping it won't be too bad.
We took it back to the apartment and left to begin our walk again. We made our way to Passeig de Joan de Bobó, walking almost the full length of that, stopping at a gelato place. While we were sitting there eating our gelato, a busload of German teenagers showed up. They were from Düsseldorf, but they didn't seem too interested in talking to strangers.
We left there and walked until we saw a sign pointing to a "Centre Commercial". We thought we would investigate even though we were pretty sure it would be closed on Sunday. The only problem was that we never did find it and we're not really sure that we hadn't been walking through it because there were a lot of little stores (mostly closed) along the street. We followed the street to the end which, again, brought us to the Med and a bazillion restaurants. The beach was crowded as far as the eye could see. It was a great beach day. Temps were in the eighties. Though it was hot in the sun, it was cool in the shade.
We had seen the Mercat down one of the side streets, so we walked back there, saw some information obviously intended for French visitors, and made our way home, where we took our clothes out of the drier and started a second load. Once they were in the drier, I took a nap for an hour or so.
Around 21h00, we walked down to the corner to Segons Mercat, a nice looking restaurant in which the waiters do not speak English, and the language is something unrecognizable. It's not Spanish and it's not Catalan. We were directed to a table on the side under a cute painting from which I got a good look at the unusual floor. Even though the staff doesn't speak English, the back section of the menu was in English, which was the only way I knew what I was ordering. I had the "typical food of Portugal". It was potatoes that were 'julienned' and fried, around scrambled eggs with some kind of fish, olive oil, garlic and something we think was finely chopped black olives. Robb had a seafood mix of mussels, cockles and clams. We drank a nice cava. For dessert, I had a luscious panna cotta, different than the panna cotta I remembered Robb had something called "3 chupitos", he thought one was Tira Misu. Excellent stuff
After dinner, we went for a short walk around the block,which wasn't all that short.
You can see all the Barcelona pictures below (there are a lot of pictures which I haven't included in the entries).