Day 4 Barcelona In The Sun

The alarm clock went off, I think, but I didn’t hear it. Jet lag and angst got the better of me. Carli slept in too, but by eleven AM we had eaten breakfast, dressed and were on our way out the door. The sun was brilliant and drying off the last of the puddles left from the day before.
Carli had been studying the bus and metro diagrams on the map she bought. Between the two of us, we figured out how to find the tourist bus line we had spotted through torrential rain. They offered a two day ticket with the ability to get on and off at any of their stops, take the time to look around and get on the next bus at no extra charge. A good deal. We toured all afternoon and got a feel for the city and learned it’s history through  a recorded eloquent female British voice. In the past, I’ve taken tours where the recorded voice was so garbled or spoke the language so poorly I had no idea what they were talking about. Not the case with Barcelona Tourist Bus orange and green lines.  At most of the stops there were small cafes or bars where you could use the facilities for the price of a beer or soda and a couple of tapas.
The different neighborhoods are fascinating, especially the old ones in the original parts of the city. Many of the houses on the main streets of Passig Gracia and Las Ramblas are opulent in an upper 5th Avenue Manhattan way; original owners vying for prestige with the fanciest house. On Passig Gracia the styles range from Gaudi masterpieces through every architectural style known to man from the 18th century through the present. The area of Barcelonetta, originally an ancient fishing village, appealed to me with it’s narrow streets and smaller homes. The scale was comfortable, homey and gave the feeling of a true neighborhood. Carli is attached to the area where our apartment is located and I have to agree because of its accessibility to bars, restaurants, bakeries and tiny convenience stores packed with everything under the sun. After four days we are already buddies with the Indian family who run the closest mom and pop market and the nice young man at the telephone store.
Taking the tour bus gave us a quick tour to decide areas we want to go back and poke around in some more. There is a big flea market we’ve targeted and a leather factory outlet. After all, we need something to go with the new shoes we bought on our visit to Corte Ingles.
It happened to be my birthday, so Carli took me for dinner at the highly touted Pudu Can Manel by the harbor. Supposedly the place to go for paella. The first course arrived, a typical Spanish salad of lettuce, chunks of fresh tuna, hard boiled eggs, carrots, and succulent garden tomatoes. The next course was seafood paella filled with rice and very few hidden shrimp, calamari and some mystery seafood that is probably better left unknown. I found it disappointing. It was tasty but rather dry. Dessert was a flan out of a package.
But the place was just the sort I remembered, like our “local” favorite seafood restaurant in Fuenterrabia (now Hondarribia to satisfy the Basque). Sparkling white tablecloths and shining glassware, walls wooden and graced with pictures of owners going back to the 1800’s, service brusque and competent, all typical of Spain’s myriad of old style seafood eateries. It was a very pleasant evening all in all, and the fact that it was capped off by an ice cold shot of peach liquor was icing on my birthday cake.