Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 7 - Discovering Gothic Quarter

The morning dawned on another gorgeous day. Now that we were on our own we wanted to explore some of the areas we had seen from the bus but didn't have time for before.

Our first stop was the market right by our hotel. From the bus I had noticed the cutest little cafe that was promising crepes. First problem, to find the cafe again. Second problem ordering crepes in spanish. Unfortunatley they didn't have any bananas nor nutella and the four cheese quickly became two cheese. But alas all was not lost as we made our way through a bunch of market kiosks purchasing gifts for others.

We wandered through the fresh food section to stall upon stall of fresh fish, nuts and spices, meats and cheese, beef lamb pork and a mystery animal with beady eyes and a small tuft of white fur staring at me, chicken, fruits and veggies, pastries and bread and one lone bar/cappuccino stall. Funny that this stall was the busiest of all. Did I mention it was 11 am!!!

From there we wandered along the shops. Barcelona has more shopping options than any city I have ever been in. Soon we tired of shopping so stopped at a fresh market to buy some peaches. I am not going to lie. These were the best peaches we have ever tasted. Yummy!!! So good in fact that as soon as we were finished we went looking for more. Why oh why did we not discover these markets sooner.

Since we were carrying our wares and peaches, a stop back at the hotel was in order. By the time we arrived we were hot and sweaty and ready for a dip so off to the pool we went. What a refreshing afternoon stop.

Next it was off to our favorite part of the city... The Gothic quarter. I don't know why I love this area so much. Perhaps some of the same reasons many others do: the narrow streets that zigzag through the city, the mixture of restaurants, high end shopping, souvenir stores and random discount shops or the fact that there is a surprise waiting for you around the most random corners-like a stunning building you had no idea was there or a little courtyard filled with chairs and umbrellas or the most delightful smells from a homemade waffle shop. Or maybe it's because there are so many streets, restaurants and shops that a few thousand people doesn't feel like the same crowd you would have elsewhere and maybe it's because the locals are more likely to be in this area dragging their shopping bags along filled with bread and fruits. Maybe it's because every last detail on the building is thought out, carefully built and stood the test of time. More beautiful now than it was centuries ago as time has added it's stories both of celebration and sadness to these very places. Needless to say... I absolutely adore it.

We wandered through the streets stumbling upon the most famous and awesome concert hall in the world which has stood for over 100 years. We followed the twists of the street to the Arc de Triomf. We strolled down the walkway stopping to enjoy the many iron gargoyles along the way. We ducked into the narrow streets and came upon a little shop to pick up a Barcelona football jersey. We continued to make random turns through streets when we came upon an open court with so many delightful smells escaping the 5 restaurant kitchens we couldn't help but stop for dinner. We meandered through the cobblestone when we looked up to see an awesome church spire. By following that spire we found another beautiful and incredibly large church that was hidden from view 5 minutes ago. And there we found some beautiful jewelry where I bought myself the most adorable ring. The streets led us through more twists and turns, passed another church, down to the water and back into a beautiful circular courtyard. We sat for a while soaking it all in.

Before long the cobblestones were dancing beneath our feet again taking us to his large open plaza where people dined, sipped cappuccino, found a space to sit and read, crouched into the most awkward of positions to get that one awesome shot. We continued through to our next adventure which found us along the old shipping district by the water. There we stopped for dessert and cappuccino ourselves. But alas our adventure was not over. We ducked across the bridge to stroll the water front before again losing ourselves in the maze. We spent almost 40 minutes trying to retrace our steps back to a little shop we had seen earlier. We finally settled on one like it before we headed to find a taxi.

Along the walk out we did find that first shop we were looking for. We also experienced the Gothic quarter as they shut the lights off. Those dark alleys didn't seem as playful and adventurous as they had earlier. But I still loved every minute of it. And in case I haven't given you enough reasons yet: I like it because over the course of the 7 hours we were there we never ran into the same person nor did we ever stumble upon the same plaza that the taxi originally dropped us off in.

By now it was late, our feet were tired and we were ready to dream about all of our adventures.

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