So it’s Sunday and we leave our apartment at 11:15 a.m. and head downtown to join some friends at a restaurant/bar called “Milk Bar and Bistro”. We are not normally on the streets of Barcelona at 11:15 on a Sunday morning and I, for one, find the sunlight glaringly obnoxious and might have protested but for the recent memory of two weeks of constant rain preceded by six months of Mediterranean winter.
I put on my sunglasses and try to think sunny thoughts.
Although not completely deserted, the sidewalk stretches ahead of us like the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” as most Spaniards (and I really do mean the overwhelming majority of locals) are either still sleeping or wisely luxuriating in their beds at this hour. It was just us and the tourists.
We hop on the green line of the Metro at Diagonal and then transfer to the yellow line at Passeig de Gracia. It is astonishingly early for a street musician to be playing in the long tunnel connecting the lines but one brave old man is sitting on the concrete playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on his trumpet. It is adorable… he is actually looking at the notes in a little notebook. We suspect he is new to the whole busking thing as these musicians don’t normally sit on the ground, but as I have mentioned, it is still early!
We hop off the yellow line (I like all the “hopping” in this story… it does not necessarily capture EXACTLY how we were moving but it’s a lovely turn of phrase) at Jaume I and walk up Calle/Carrer (they both mean street… Spanish/Catalan) Laitana towards our brunch place.
Our poet-friend had recently picked up, for us, some black beans at a small Laitana Street store specializing in foods from Latin America. We had been lamenting the absence of black beans and were frustrated in our (DPs) attempts to make our dear friend Sarah’s famous “Mango Tango Black Bean Salsa”. We see this store and decide to take a quick peek. Wowsas! They stock about 12 kinds of hot sauce… and mole sauce and tortillas and tequila (a sea of it) and chili peppers and all sorts of other Mexican goodies that are not easy to find in Barcelona. We take a quick tour around making note of their inventory and then stop to look at the bakery section on our way out. There were, looking up at us from the bottom of the glassed case, little piles of authentic Colombian pan de bono – a cross between a bagel and a bun with cheese inside. “Hurrah!” cried the Canadians who used to live in Colombia. “Hurrah! Let’s get some to go.”
Then we hurry (okay… we didn’t really hurry… more like ambled) down the street, turn right at the Correos (Post Office) and duck into “Milk” just before our always-on-time friend gets there. We are six friends and colleagues in all: Ottawa, Owen Sound, Chicago, North East somewhere (can’t remember), L.A./Israel and Austin, Texas. Our L.A. friend has invited us for brunch just because and this place is owned by two Irish couples who have come to Barcelona via San Francisco to offer up an American style breakfast featuring eggs benedict and pancakes. They play a mix of old-school jazz tracks (Frank and Ella and Sarah Vaughan) and, every once in a while, one of us will sing a line or two. Halfway through breakfast our friend, the Principal, turns up with his luggage; he’s on his way home from the airport and decided to stop by. He has been at an ECIS (European Council of International Schools) conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia for five days and he looks incredibly tanned to me. Later in the afternoon, he confesses to DP and me that at 4:30 p.m. every day (after the sessions), he went to the beach and stayed until dinner. He liked Dubrovnik. We talk about visiting Turkey and the merits of Istanbul, an upcoming trip to Paris for the French Open and whether or not the Tour de France is only in France. (I have no information about this nor do I have an opinion). We discuss movies most recently seen in BCN: “Paris, Je T’Aime”, “Notes on a Scandal”, “Meet the Robinsons” and “Wild Hogs”. DP and I have been watching trailers for movies at the Apple Store online and we recommend an upcoming film called “Waitress”… there is, predictably, confusion about whether the lead role is played by Felicity Huffman or Keri Russel who played Felicity on television. It is the latter; our other-counselor-friend declares that she LOVED “Felicity”. I say she loved Felicity because Felicity is Anne of Green Gables but in the present. Principal-friend says “Look at her smiling. You are right about the Anne of Green Gables thing.” I love that. (Stick with what you know… again, I have no data on the Tour de France).
We eat. Several of us have cafe con leche which makes me all buzzy and happy. We get up from the table about 2:00 p.m. and stand just outside the restaurant, milling around, while cars try to squeeze by us on this tiny side street. Finally someone makes a move (probably DP) and we say “See you tomorrow” (not such a sad farewell) and we walk to trains and metro lines and buses taking us back to our various neighbourhoods scattered across the city.
DP buys two Barca jerseys for the little sons of friends of his from Colombia. In an astonishing move, I buy nothing at all.
Later in the afternoon, we warm up the pan de bono and they are delicious… not exactly the same as they were in Colombia but really, really close.
It’s good to know that people are having this day (or something like it)… all over the world.