Today, the markets now being open, we went off to experience the crowds, sights, and various foods on offer at Mercat de Santa Caterina (1), and Mercat de la Boqueria (2). We were now more weary of thieves and so took minimal belongings with us. On the way to the first market there was an interesting brick building, where the different prick depths made up a tree within the walls, almost like a sketch. The first market we went to was quite easy to spot thanks to its beautifully colourful roof tiling. It wasn’t very busy, which gave us a nice time to savour the sights and gave us enough time to have a proper look at the foods on offer. There were a lot of large colourful fruit and vegetables on offer. A large stall of interesting looking Mushrooms. Alex bought some and was given a generous portion of fresh parsley as an accompaniment.
Chris and I bought a ‘Meat Cone’ comprising of Serrano Ham and a couple of pieces of dried bread each. I found it amusing that they came in semi-grease-proof paper, which had a newspaper design printed on the outside, but not the inside, I guess they were trying to modernise the older packaging of an actual newspaper. The most intriguing item on offer to me was the Gin and Tonic Burger, but I didn’t purchase one as I wasn’t sure what meal plans were going to be. Chris bought us all some pork and cheese deep fried things, which looked a lot like tater tots. They weren’t hot, but went down a treat.
Arriving at the second market I was pleased with the order that we had decided to visit them in. This place was incredibly busy with tourists and locals alike. It was very difficult to traverse the aisles with the sheer mass of people. There were a large selection of colourful fruit smoothies on offer, which Steph and Alex bought a couple of. Each time we reached the end of an aisle we stood aside for a moment to regroup, observe from the sidelines, and have a brief reprieve from the human crush before. Once we’d taken in enough of it we left with an aim to go to the museum of contemporary art - Barcelona’s equivalent of the Tate Modern.
On the way we passed a lovely shop selling leather-bound note books, which wouldn’t have gone amiss in fantasy films or TV shows like Merlin. It’d be lovely to have one, but at the asking price of 80 Euros!? Another interesting shop was one with shelves full of rows up on rows of miniature rubber ducks. It was not far from here that we had our first taste of San Gria. Quite similar to mulled wine, but sweeter and not warm. Nice and refreshing in the sun.
Just before reaching the Museum of Contemporary art we found an exhibition put on by the Museum of Culture. There was a huge central rug with signs on it saying not to proceed with shoes on. I just about managed to stop Tom from walking across it with his shoes on in time!
When we arrived at the actual art museum the others were not keen on the entry fee so we didn’t go any further. It was good to see that there were a lot of skateboarders making good use of the super smooth paving stones around it. A bit further around the corner the main cultural centre exhibits were closed. But the shop was open. I saw a lot of lovely design books, and could see Kirsty getting absorbed in the selection if she ever visited. Some of the shelves had barcode readers, which gave the pries of the books rather than having stickers over each one. We found a book called ‘Tom’, which had homoerotic images throughout - perfect for a religious man like him! I picked up a couple of things here for Kirsty as a thank-you for the support in recent times, and some photos of what was for sale.
Afterwards, we went off in search of food, heading towards the coast for a Tapas bar that we had found online. We passed several venues after passing this one as we were discovering almost all of them were closed. After another quick look on Google Trips we set off in the direction of a local friendly one. We arrived to see a completely full restaurant with several people outside, like Franco Manca at peak times. We had waited for 15 minutes and seen a couple leave, but being 5 of us we were aware that it was increasingly unlikely that we were going to get a seat ay time soon. They explicitly said on a sign that they didn’t speak English, so we were confident that it wouldn’t be a tourist trap. But we were very hungry and decided to leave it and search elsewhere. We ended up settling for a promenade restaurant with outdoor seating. The food here was mediocre and Alexa branded the salad ‘Tesco Express’ and was a bit disappointed in paying for it - it came for free as an accompaniment to my falafel and humous. Steph had a nice looking Mojito, which was rather strong!
Now all rather tired we set off for the apartment again. On the way through the streets we heard a loud bang, which made me jump. Looking further ahead there was a large gathering of people next to a flaming monument. More bangs went of as we approached to see that there was a ‘bonfire boys’ display in full swing with plenty of drum beating. To our mild horror we saw that the square was full of children running around holding Catherine wheels on sticks above their heads and dancing around while they were lit. On closer inspection you could see that they wore visors to protect their faces. We saw a couple of police and an ambulance on standby. The proceedings were bought to an end with the children gathering their sticks into a point and an adult lighting them all with a flare. The square lit up in a frenzy of sparks and cacophony of bangs. A few unlit ones were then relit and their holders danced up close to the crowd edge, who visibly retreated - understandably!