Barcelona: home to fiercely proud citizens of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, a thriving sea port, a multitude of architectural wonders, and the most construction projects per square inch than any other European city — the longest of which is the Sagrada Família which has been under construction since 1882 and the loudest of which was situated directly below the windows of our rented apartment. You’d have thought that being kept awake for more than 24 hours would result in a sleep so deep that nothing, not even jackhammers and obnoxious honking and pulverizing stone, would wake me up. You’d be wrong. My kids have trained me to come to immediate attention at the slightest creak of a door, floor, or snore. As a result, I got about four winks worth of sleep before I reconciled myself to getting up and getting going.
The first order of business was a tortialla de patatas y cebolla (potato and onion omelet). Luckily, tortillas were to be found at every corner in our neighborhood. We chose Restaurant L`Altra Llossa based on its proximity to our place and the number of patrons inside. Good choice. The waitress was friendly and helpful, the food was prompt and tasty, and did I mention that it was about five feet away from our apartment? I dove into my tortilla with verve but halfway through realized that I couldn’t see straight and was thisclose to laying my head down on its pillowy softness and zonking out. The staff kindly wrapped my food up and we barely made it back to the apartment before I passed out once again.
When I awoke, I had no idea what time it was, where I was, or what was going on. I couldn’t see because the thick wooden shutters had been pulled tightly shut and blocked all light. I couldn’t hear myself think because the construction crews outside reached record-shattering decibel levels. I couldn’t speak because my mouth was caked with travel filth and I couldn’t find my bottle of water.
Luckily, the foot of the bed was a mere two inches away from the door and with one hi-YAH, I kicked it open and saw TP and Sars lounging in the sun-drenched living room patiently waiting for Sleeping Beauty to arise. I may or may not have showered the airplane stink off of me before we began our stroll down La Rambla. On our meanderings from Plaça de Catalunya toward the harbor, we ambled along side dragons, gallivanted among the gawkers, and studiously avoided the freak shows trying to earn a quick euro by posing as statues until someone paid up and then they’d “perform” and make you wish they’d return to their mute statuesque positions once more. Gorgons with towering stacked boots, babies with pacifiers and clown makeup, hard-working miners, frilly señoritas, you name it. Eventually, we peregrinated our way to the sea where we admired the ships at the dock before turning (somewhat) back the way we came.
We traipsed through the Desi district and later, because none of us could commit to a decision on doner kebabs or sushi or anything, we ended up getting gelato.
Taking advantage of the fact that our apartment had a kitchen, we stopped at the local grocery store, Bonpreu, for some vittles before checking our email at Sars’ free internet courtesy of the three-star hostel he was staying in and then returning to our place for a quick (third, if you are counting) nap.
As anyone who has traveled to Spain knows, dinner is not even speculated upon until after 8 p.m. With new-found energy thanks to the siesta, we met up, hemmed and hawwed, and ended up back at L`Altra Llossa for dinner. As luck would have it, Thursday night is a traditional night for paella and this restaurant did it up RIGHT. I am not a big fan of the rice-a-roni-with-sea-critters dish but this was pretty tasty and in between bites of my own perfectly prepared sea bass, I sneaked a few bites of the boys’ paella as well.
Good conversation, good eats, good night.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting installment: The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly On My Head.