Friday, May 6, 2011

La Boqueria Mercat

Smack in the middle of Barcelona's main strip - Las Ramblas - the dumping ground for cruise ship passengers and throngs of other tourists, souviener merchants, and various meanderers... is one of the cities main marketplaces.  

La Boquiria mercat, as it is called, is convientiently located next to city metro hub.  For locals, however, it's not so conveniently barraced behind walls of gawkers, slow paced tour-map multi-taskers, and gaggles of young Spanish out to look cool on the scene.  It's serious fun to watch the old folks - who actually use this market as their grocer - get cranky and irritated at people standing in their way.  We saw one guy use his newspaper to continuously smack the hood of a Mercedes full of teenagers when the driver didn't stop before a crosswalk line.  As the old man marched away, he continued to yell Spanish obscenities in their direction until out of earshot.  Bad ass.

La Boqueria is the place for your meats and veggies... if you actually have a kitchen here to cook in.  Sigh.

Otherwise, it's a great place to ooh and awe, pick up a few wares, and sastifiy your sweet tooth.

We picked up a couple of declious chocolate truffles, and scored half of an expensive, exotic fruit called a Pitaya.

On looks alone, we expected the Pitaya to be super sweet.  

The first bite was actually underwhelming.  Three Euros for this???   But the more you keep eating it, the more it starts taking over.

We got half way into our half and Monica exclaimed that it had become addicting.   Basically, it has a subtle sweetness that stimulates the sides of your tongue.  Monica says I should look up a tongue taste map and figure out what's going on, but the dang internet in this hotel translates everything in a poor English translation of German.

Can someone tell me what they heck is a pitaya and what it is doing to me before I deplete our entire bank accounts on these things!?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Egg pie is actually good.

Wow, I actually like Quiche! Before this trip, Monica and I were both like, "Quiche?  Yeah, quiche my butt..." That's probably due to all the gross frozen microwaveable rubber soap sponges we call quiche back in the states. But here, man, it's really, really good!

This is the best version we've had so far, made with tomato, mozzarella, some other things I couldn't pronounce. I mean look at that crust, it's a meal in a pie!

We happened upon it at hip, cramped, and quirky little joint near Jean Miro park in Barcelona called, Tarte & Quiche.  Here's their website.

They have an awesome business going here with a constant stream of customers.  Anyone who opens up one of these in the states, even if it's half as good, is going to make boat loads of dough.  And money too.

Camp Nou

The day following Barca FC's big win against Real Madrid, I dragged Monica out to the origin of the mass celebration - Camp Nou.  

It's the home field of Barca, the Mecca and Vatican for fans of arguably the most popular team in sports right now.

On non-match days, futbol fans from all over the world flock to Camp Nou for a 19 Euro ($35-ish) tour of the facility, including the field, the locker room, and the presidential and press boxes.  The maze of subways we had to navigate to get there wore us out, so I opted to admire the stadium from a far.   Later, I discovered that there was a single straight subway line we could have rode, that would have dropped us off right at the front door.  Big fat UGH.

The team's best player, and perhaps the world's best player is Lionel Messi.  His jersey is a huge seller, but it's hard to catch a Spanish person wearing one since Messi is an Argentine.  Instead, you'll find them sporting the Barca jerseys of their own homegrown heroes, like David Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, and Puyol -  all the same players that carried the Spanish national team to their World Cup glory last summer.

Jean Miro

Jean Miro is probably my favorite artist.  His use of colors and twisted simplicity have always amazed me to the point where I think, "wow, this dude's level of crazy was out there."  Yeah, I may not look like much, but I too can be a cultured appreciator of the fine arts in between making annoying noises and stupid puns.

Monica, the intrepid travel scout that she it, found the Jean Miro museum here in Barcelona.  It's located atop  the Olympic park, the same place where they held the wonderful '92 summer games.

They don't allow photos in the museum, but I saw a few people with their cameras out and decided to go into stealth mode.

Monica and I both knew Miro through his paintings, but his sculptures really had us captivated.... and laughing.  Check out the hover hand!

Barcelona has a really cool arts education program.  They bring tours of children, as young as kindergarten age, to the museum to learn, draw, and talk about what they see.  Some of the art is intense too, so it's really fascinating to see them being exposed to it at such a young age.  Bravo, Barcelona, Bravo.

Barca FC wins, all hell breaks loose!

So Barcelona Football Club advanced to the Champions League final by beating their rival Real Madrid.  We watched the game with a mixture of locals and euro-tourists in what must be the cleanest, friendliest heavy metal bar in the world.  

After game, we hung around in Las Ramblas (the main drag) a bit longer, but made back to the hotel before 1am.   There were plenty of people out in Las Ramblas following the game's finish, but I was a little surprised not to see the masses of craziness that I've come to expect from European football fans.

The next morning, however, I turned on the TV to find out that this is what happened a few hours after we left the scene:



Oh, well, at least we were safe, sound, and free from the sting of rubber bullets, to visit the Jean Miro museum on the next day.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ciudad Grande, Barcelona!

Barrrrttthhhhhhhhaaaalona, as it's pronounced here, is cool bro.  It's kinda like San Francisco in a way, but much more intense with it's gothic quarters and Gaudi architecture.  Some of these buildings are so menacing, eery, and awestriking... that I'm glad I was able to wash a load of underwear yesterday. 

Pics up soon, but here's some glamour-shots and information in the meanwhiles. 

Oh, I forgot to mention earlier that there's an peculiar thing about hotel rooms here in Spain, possibily througout Europe.  There's a slot on the wall right next to the door where you're to insert your room key.  

Once you do, it activates the circuit breaker or something enabling the use of electricity.  Pull the key from the slot, and all lights, tv, hair curlers, and air conditioning immediately cut out.  It's useful in ensuring guests conserve energy, or a great way to annoying your wife when abruptly leaving the room.

Also, the toilets here are strange.  

They are all dual flush, plus they put a sink right next to them.  The baby sinks are small and cramped, and an akward place to wash your face, brush your teeth, shave, and use as a defacto drinking fountain.  


Well, off the mini-sink I go to freshen up.  Barcacelona is playing Real Madrid in a key Champions League match tonight.  For those not up par with world futbol, this is one of the biggest rivalries in one of the biggest tournaments for the biggest sport in the world.  Think Lakers versus the Celtics meets the Superbowl times ten.

We're going to the center of the city to find a place to watch the game.  It should be fun because we already saw the city rolling out their riot police vans to round up the herds of unruly Barca FC crazed masses.  

Go Barca Go!

Monday, May 2, 2011

48 horas en Granada.

If Tony Bennett can leave his heart in San Francisco, well, I decidedly left mine in Granada.  And you know what? I'm going back to retrieve it one day, and you are coming with me.

There is so much to say about this enthralling and generous town.  We saw just a hint of what she had to offer, and know there is so much more to uncover.  

So, with that pretty much unsaid.... here's what happened in about 75! photos.  

P.S.  We saw the news that Obama got Osama.  It's all over television here, but not many people outside of the TV are making mention of situation.  However, we did overhear an American family, of let's say, a more privileged nature complain about the possibility of heightened airport security on their way back to the states tomorrow.  Oh, it feels like good ol' Bush times again!  We are back America!