Perfect Barcelona Afternoon

Sometimes people ask us about living in Barcelona… about what it’s like… and what we think of the city… and aren’t we just the luckiest people in the world. We try not to say that we work 10 hours a day and rarely see the Mediterranean. It seems like an ungrateful response. Even when we are working as hard as we are right now, we endeavor not to forget (or take for granted) our good fortune.

And then there are afternoons like this one that serve as evidence.

It was noon and we were getting ready to meet friends, including a former colleague who was visiting from Isreal, at Cerveceria Catalana, our favourite spot for tapas. DP checked the weather and announced that it would be 23 degrees.


“Yup… with a low of 16.”

This weather report made us positively giddy with delight. In Barcelona, at long last, we have thrown off our winter jackets and packed away the scarves with which we wrapped our necks during the long Mediterranean winter. This is decadent t-shirts and linen trousers time. Locals and tourists alike are back on the beaches, bronzing themselves with reckless abandon.

We threw our cameras in DPs knapsack, tied our sweaters around our waists (proof that we are not fully European yet… no self-respecting European would ever tie a sweater anywhere but around their shoulders) and headed down Rambla de Catalunya towards the restaurant.

Photo Credit: Scanna283 at Flickr

When we arrived at 12:20 p.m., most of Barcelona was still sleeping off yet another late Saturday night so we were able to snag seats for eight at tables on the street. Within fifteen minutes, our party of eight had assembled snuggly around the tables, reassuring the waiter that the foreigners were still a good bet, true to their word that all eight of us would be here in just a few minutes.

There was a flurry of both-cheek kisses, a couple of introductions. And then the BIG question, “What shall we order?” Eating tapas is a truly communal experience; typically, the diners order a number of dishes and share them. Everyone gets his/her own small plate and picks and chooses from the goodies. We called it pica pica or snacking. If you decide you haven’t had enough to eat, you simply order more.

Photo Credit: Scanna283 at Flickr

Today we shared plates of:
– patatas bravas (small cubes of fried potatoes potatoes served with a tomato sauce)
– pan de tomate (bread with tomato, olive oil and garlic rubbed on the top)
– escalivada (grilled eggplant, red peppers and onions served with goat cheese)
– bacalau (cod)
– spanish tortilla (an egg pie with onions and potatoes – quite a lot like quiche)
And for dessert: creme catalana and cafe con leche

The company was good, the laughter came easily and the tapas, as always, were delicious.

After lunch DP and I popped over to a friend’s house to help move a bit of furniture. Their piso is at the back of their building, which is to say that it does not look out over the street, so we got a rare look at the inside of one of the blocks in the Eixample (or “extension”) which is the neighbourhood between old Barcelona and Gracia. These inner spaces, away from the prying eyes of the city, are where the people of Barcelona hang their laundry.

We have been neglecting the movies terribly. Going to the cinema is one of our very favourite activities but our lives have been so full of other things (and to be fair, some of that has been travelling) that we had not been to see a film at Yelmo Icaria, our favourite cinema by the sea, in months.

We could smell the Mediterranean as we walked to the cinema. The sky was that surreal shade of blue that you can scarcely believe and the cotton-candy clouds drifted so slowly by. Iron Man was today’s movie. A comic book film. Very male. I was actually scared… stressed and freaked out. DP says that I am a film director’s dream audience member, a person so completely capable of suspending disbelief that I forget that I am at the movies. (He’s right… I am a freak).

It’s 10:30 in the evening now and we’ve been putting together a little slide show of the trip to Dublin for the parents of our Travel Club kids. DP has gone out for Chinese take-out and we’re faced with the end of another weekend.

It’s true. We are very lucky. And Barcelona is an extraordinary city. Thanks for asking!

What did you do with your precious Sunday afternoon?


  1. Jay and I drove home from San Miguel de Allende. Our last Mexcian trip before leaving in a month…sigh. Anyway, while riding in the car, I wrote a blog post with you in mind. I'll have it up by the end of today. :)Cheers,Jenny

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