Friday, March 25, 2011

Buildings & Books, Flowers & Food

Tis an odd and wonderful thing to spend days in the same place. To regain a sense of direction and comfort and pleasant routine. I rise and dress, dabbing my precious oil on my fingers to press into my shoulders and slip over my wrists, breathing in what I have decided will be my signature scent.

I enjoy the click of my shoes on the curving marble stairs as I descend, offering a greeting to the receptionist before departing my hotel and passing familiar shops and restaurants and beautiful buildings. Two blocks later, I become part of the crowd on La Rambla, noting which street performers are new this morning. (If you're early enough, you can watch as they smear on make-up and dress in their elaborate costumes.)

I arrive at La Boqueria and cross the street, breaking right before entering the narrow aisle between various stalls. I walk for a row or two, seeking a break in the mass of humanity, and slip inside to sigh over the juices and order something mixed with mango. The orange mango the first day was magical. The papaya orange yesterday, while good, wasn't as glorious. Today's kiwi mango was a return to everything juice should be. Hence, the mango has achieved avocado-like status in my affections.

I rejoin the crowds as I sip my juice, wandering toward the next metro stop (or the one after that if the sun feels perfect and I'm not finished being outside yet). I semi-expertly feed my ticket into the machine and wait for the doors to open or turnstyle to unlock before plucking my ticket out from the slot and tucking it back in my bag. I buy a water from the vending machine if I have time before the next train and then I ride to my current place of business. There, I learn until it is time to descend into the subway system again to return to the Ramblier environs.

(This photo, by the way, pretty much captures how I feel about the mango+other juice. Like sparkles of light glimmer around it while a heavenly choir of angels sing a perfect chord for its wonderful goodness. My mouth waters from the moment I see it snuggled in crushed ice and I reach eagerly for the plastic cup as the vendor pushes a straw through the lid. I perched it on the stairs to the subway just before finishing the last gulp and throwing the empty vessel in the trash with one last, longing glance. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning, people. God bless the juice and those who make it available to me.)

I decided to explore the Gothic Quarter before returning to my hotel and I took various photos of the narrow streets and tiny shops, grinning at the neon lights around the tattoo parlors and glancing at the shops with scarves and beads. I got a little lost, beginning to fret a little until I saw the cathedral and wandered around it admiringly. It's apparently still having some work done and I spent long moments in front of it looking at the sign and the map in my hands and the map by the sign. And the sign and the map by the sign and the map in my hands.

Deciding I was reasonably likely to go the wrong direction anyway, I glared at the map once more before turning and walking in what I hoped would bring me to the Plaza de Catalunya. (It would, actually.) Along the way, I found a bookshop and couldn't resist going in. Because books are happy so you should call your store Happy Books.

English books were on sale (2,95) so I selected two, holding them close to my chest as I wandered the rest of the shop before paying for my reading material and walking once again. I watched a crowd form around a group of young men who I think were going to dance, but the mass of people encircled them completely before I could see. Still, I smiled at the spectacle and began my internal debate over whether or not I was hungry.

I have a terrible habit of postponing meals until I'm nearly sick with hunger when I travel alone. Because I had books (and a journal, actually), I ordered myself to find a restaurant so I could watch people and read a novel and have a snack. A snack called pizza, actually, I decided and began to search out spots in earnest.

Disappointed with my failure, I approached my hotel and decided I could eat at the tapas place next door again. The asparagus with brie was yummy last night, but the chicken skewers were less than perfect as a source of protein. Yet I nearly bounced with glee upon seeing the menu for the section of tables adjacent to the tapas ones. I found a table (and then moved closer to the heater as I was becoming cold in my short sleeved dress) and ordered a pizza and soda while looking at my hotel about 15 feet away. And I grinned at my luck even as I poured the flavored oil atop the thin crust and cheese.

I finished with chocolate mouse and tart berries and cafe crema before beginning to shiver and asking for the check. Charmed by my book (A Spanish Lover, Joanna Trollope) and completely satisfied with my day, I climbed the marble steps to my floor, entered my straightened room and flopped on my bed to write a post.

Because as my eye would tell you via nary a single twitch in the last 4 days, Spain is good for the soul.

1 comment:

Brigindo said...

I am so with you on the status of mangos and avocados (and chocolate mousse).

Spain sounds lovely. Glad you're having fun.

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