Barcelona, full of parks. And for some reason the people that make maps always color them green. But here's the rub. Most, not green at all. Pretty, but in a mediterranean way -- sandy dirt paths, palm trees, dusty cafe chairs. So wow, Mossen Cinto Verdaguer in Montjuic, an exception. Bring a picnic, spread out on the grass, under a shady tree, yippee!
Dale, dell, glen, glade, swale, vale, valley. Three and a half hours plus from Barcelona, Naut Aran. Tidy shale-roofed stone villages, a deep cut between alpine mountains. Elegant, smart, regal, groomed. Water bursting in streams, wild daffodils, a crowd in spring meadows....baby cows, baby horses, baby everything.
The challenge. Can I walk across the old gothic quarter without passing a single souvenir shop selling Miro t-shirts, Sagrada Familia miniatures and FC Barcelona players as caganers? Is there any place left where I can work out my ankles on real cobblestone streets? Yup! It's still possible in the Ribera.
I start with my back to the church at Placa Sant Pere and follow the cobblestone road. Down Placa Sant Pere. Right on Sant Pere Mes Baix. Left on La Sequia, through the plaza to Les Basses de Sant Pere, turn right onto Placa de Sant Agusti Vell and I walk to the other end of the plaza. From here on, no more cobblestones. Next time when I have kids with me, I'll ask them to find this cat along the way!
I take the left corner into Placa de la Academia. For a coffee break (or a reward for finding the cat), I take a detour to the left through the big doorway into the Convent courtyard and the Convent Bar. Afterwards, back out the door and a left turn again as the plaza turns into the street D'En Tantarantana (down on the left is the Chocolate Museum and a small Plaza).
Just before Princesa, I turn right on Assaonadors. And then again at Vermell I turn right (ok, caveat...there were no tacky craft fairs the day I passed through, but can be). At Corders just for fun, I go into the arch at #41 out the one at #39. With my back to the exit arch, I turn right onto Corders and walk along to Placa Sant Cugat, with all it's cafes. I head through the arch across from the plaza through Cecs Sant Cugat and then turn right on Assaonadors. Hit Montcada, turn left and then quickly right at en Boquer which ends at Placa llana. I walk along the plaza to Candela and turn left. When I end the tour at Princesa, I brace myself. I have returned to the land of trinkets and trash.
Next segment -- a bigger challenge, can I do the same thing walking the heart of the gothic quarter between Via Laietana and Las Ramblas. Taking odds?
Anything with "ito" on the end, I know means affection. And it's finally warm enough, more sunny days than not, to call it the season for these darling spilling-out-onto-the-beach eateries. Its not really about the food, eating with warm sand on my feet, splash of water nearby, the view, hard to beat, one on almost every beach.
A white background, linens and cottons made in the mediterranean, Portugal, France, and Barcelona, with splashes of familiar colors from the sea, the sun, applied by hand, organic strokes. Table cloths, place mats, pillow cases. Open the door, a soft flutter, which one calls to you? In It. at Cornet i Mas 22 in Sarria. www.init-bcn.com
A tiny little plaza, a single day of the year, an open market celebrating medicinal herbs, plants and honey. The oldest market tradition in Barcelona...medieval healers from the mountains proffering advice, ingredients and compounds. So what's with all the sausages?
By Maia Pay Ozguc
Barcelona Impressions. Be curious. Be present. Be Barcelona!