Thursday, February 5, 2009

I know it's winter but . . .

Tuesday 3 February 2009

And still the rain comes. This morning is as dark as it was at 10 pm last night. The rain is as heavy as a damp, dank, dark coat. There will be no sightseeing for the moment.

We decide to tackle the healthily growing pile of laundry that comes with living out of a suitcase. The instructions in the manual for the apartment for the use of the washing machine and the dryer are less than clear. After a number of failed attempts, we end up washing the clotes for almost 2 hours and still cannot work the dryer. Now, before you all scoff at our uselessness, please be advised that the washing machine and dryer are one machine, the instructions on the machine are all in spanish and the instructions clearly relate to two seperate machines. In the end, trial and error prevail and we work it out - boy these clothes have never had it so clean (or dry!)

It is now just before 2 pm and the sky is breaking - giving us a glimmer of hope - so we rug up, pack the brolly and set out for a walk. There is certainly nothing like a good downpour to wash away the debris and Barcelona now sparkles. Although it is still overcast, the people come back out into the streets, rushing about their chores, or just catching up with their world at their local café bar.

We wander down different back streets and come across a little chapel to St Christopher - patron saint of travellers, so have to get a photo of that one! At Las Ramblas we are amid the locals and tourists rubbing shoulders - ever mindful of our belongings as we have heard plenty of advice to be wary of pickpockets in this area. The flower markets are doing a thriving trade down either side of the pedestrianised centre of this famous street. We spy the Mercat de la Boqueria (Boqueria Market) and head on over.

Now, as you will see in the attached link to this market, the Chairman of the Vendors Association claims this is one of the best markets in Europe. Even though it was almost 5 pm, the vendors were still hustling and the buyers still being discerning! There was plenty of trade continuing with all manners of fresh produce available. From farm fresh produce (all the way from Peru as we later discovered our asparagus was sourced), to all manners of seafood - try this link for a description of spanish seafood - incuding many we had never seen before). The navaja were particularly interesting to see! And then there was the game store that not only had tins of the ever-present foie gras, but also the raw liver - all yellow and fatty - not a sign of the anticipated dark red, to ducks ready to cook all á la oranged, and furred and feathered rabbits, ducks and fowl still freshly draining their last blood.

For the princely sum of €16.85 we bring home a large bunch of asparagus, half a kilo of strawberries, 2 punnets of raspberries, a handful of mushrooms, a hand of bananas and a layer of the finest, leanest jamon. a feast in the making! We have been trying to cook most nights so that we can get a decent amount of fresh vegetables in to us. We had bought fresh chicken and veal at the supermarket without realising that this market was so close.

Back to the unit via a different route - past lots of Tapas bars and the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia who reportedly was martyred in Roman Times and whose remains are interred in the crypt. One of the most interesting features of this temple are the remains of a former basilica that dates back to 925 AD. This is a stunning example of Gothic architecture that dominates the square in front of it where teens compete each other for daring (stupid) skateboard stunts. The Spanish like many other Europeans love their graffiti - the historic type that is. Graffiti (The term "graffiti" derives from the Greek graphein ("to write"). Graffiti (s. graffito), meaning a drawing or scribbling on a flat surface, originally referred to those marks found on ancient Roman architecture) adorns many of the outsides of the buildings that we pass.

Tonight I make veal with veges and the make a thin egg custard (why o why didn't I buy some vanilla??) and then slice ripe strawberries into it and let them steep in it before adding more strawberries and all the raspberries just before we eat it - yum!

It has been a frustrating couple of days with the weather. Tomorrow promises sun - so we are eager to get out and about!

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