Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cap i Casal de Catalunya

Dear Daniel,

Here we are - in the head and hearth of Catalunya and I can't get enough of it. Thanks for heading out early and taking lots of pictures to capture my reunion with Shruti and meeting her partner, Dan, for the first time. You're right, Desi Girl + White Boy Named Dan = Can't Go Wrong! So much has happened already in 24 hours in Barcelona! Walking through the streets of Barcelona, I was glad Shruti was our travel guide, because I got to take in the feeling of muddy puddles on my legs, the sounds of scooters buzzing by, the smells of sleepy streets slowly waking up to a new day, and the colors of clouds playing games with the sun, and the feeling of catching up with someone I hadn't seen for 11 years. Basically, I was pretty giddy with being present and enjoying each moment. Shruti adeptly and with some unneeded apologies led us beautifully to Milk. Along the way, we got tidbitty helpful information about Barcelona! Everything Shruti said corroborated our plans, which were aided significantly by Ridhi's suggestions. I bet that felt good to you - it sure did to me ; )

Once at Milk, I was grateful for iced tap water. I thoroughly enjoyed my cortado, which I was excited about because in Spain it's not cortado con poca leche - it's like a small Americano! And I am a happy  child with non-dairy options! I also really liked my breakfast (and yours ; ) - all in all - a gastronomically good start to Barcelona!

Shruti and Dan led us to the middle of a bustling market place (La Rambla) and then got into the metro onwards to the next part of their journey! But not before our cups of oolong and chai! Shruti enjoyed her milky chai and glanced warily at my soy-filled one - but I guarantee, Shruti, it was delicious! Thanks for treating us to magical walks through moist cobblestoned alleys, a gratifying chai ka pyala, earthy and welcoming smells of Caj Chai - again, hidden in a cranny in the Gothic Quarter.

I kept saying to you all morning how the streets reminded me of Ahmedabad or even Kathmandu - that held true till we reached the Barri Gotic - Gothic Quarter. It was a place like none other I've been to! Narrow winding alleys; beautiful art work under each balcony overflowing with plants and vines; doors, walls, windows, and shutters beaming with colorful art (or not, depending on one's views on vandalism); tiny antique shops (I know it was exhausting to you after I walked into the 5th one - you were pretty darn patient until this point); Roman wall remains from the 5th century just chilling out; clouds painting the colors of the light from narrow beams high above; the skyline filled with ancient cathedrals and modern homes; dogs being strolled around; cobblestoned streets; hidden museums in every corner; and street lamps of every variety! So much to see, my eyes were amazed and slowly taking it all in.

Shutter Art - the origins of Shutterstock?

My favorite picture of the day - interbalcony negotiations of where to play in the evening! 

Street Performer - at La Rambla

La Rambla
The old with the new

Colorful balcony bottoms

Beautiful Lamps Everywhere!

Green balconies

Vandalism or Art?

Spot the sleeping dog!

Roman Wall. Caption below...

Balcony art

Door art

More door art

Once again, I was aimlessly wandering, and happily so - or maybe I knew at every moment that you were right there next to me and knew exactly how to read that disco dancing arrow on that blue dotted line that are the interfacial elements of Google Maps.

Maybe both.

We also took an excursion through Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. What a Pandora's Box of colors, sounds, and sights! I will always remember the sky blue and violently fuchsia juices (And rows and rows and rows of them), fruit representing every spectrum of the rainbow, olives representing every body type, eggs from every bird, and pieces of meat with hooves intact. As a vegetarian, my response was imaginable, but as a human - I was curious - it never surprises me that a skinned rabbit doesn't look that different from a skinned chicken (or a skinned human - thanks, X-Files.)


Which color juice suits your fancy today?

I spy with my little eye many eyes 


Buy me a golden egg?

Rabbit next to chicken

It got hot, sticky, and flesh-heavy quite quickly for us and we made our way out back to La Rambla only to wind back to my favorite thing right now - being lost on the streets of Barcelona...

But! Not before we caught a glimpse of Spanish Marilyn Monroe enticing sticky sweaty fruit eaters to the Erotica Museum.

After further excursions and some separations (Dan - procuring a travel card to ease our travels and listening to a street pianist; Suparna - negotiating the price for a 15th century pair of glasses that remind her of Gandhi with a street antiquary - thanks, Sarojini Nagar for instilling me with a solid haggling values), we wound up at Mercat Santa Caterina - the second big mandi (marketplace) we got  to be sensorily immersed in! More olives, fruits, eateries, fresh paella, nuts, vegetables, and hoofed pieces of pigs. By this time, hora sexta or siesta was approaching and things were dying down slowly.  Perfect time, because we needed the holy trinity that you always seek - hydration, ingestion, and urination!

Suparna exploring

Dan exploring

Maccaroni was the mecca we sought! A little hole burrowed in the heart of Barri Gotic - it gave us refreshing limoncello, freshly cooked pasta, and a restroom with wisdom!

Libated, fed, and empty-bladdered, we set forth on part 2 of our adventure on day 1 in Barcelona! Thanks to social media, we were led to Plaça Reial by Liz, where we learned more about Gaudi's experiments with lanterns and tourists at their poorest behavior.

We then wound around to the sea with Columbus guiding us westward and once more in search for a restroom (tricky stuff this - balancing peeing and hydrating in this heat!). We walked alongside the sea by Port Vell and Rambla de Mar and found an expensive bathroom and reasonably priced ice cream - and enjoyed breathing in sea breeze.

We wandered through more streets and talked about life until we got back to our comfy air bnb and you siesta-ed, while I watched you.

After an American breakfast and an Italian dinner - it was time for some Spanish dinner! Tapas and sangria at 11pm at La Esquinita de Blai and sleep was magical.

Vegetarian tapas, baby!

Never have to look too hard for a Punjabi bar ; )

Gracies per un gran dia, Dan. Amb amor,

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