The next morning in Barcelona, I woke up early to run a balmy 6.5 miles in a park near our hotel. Melissa, Kim, Chiko, and I rode the train into the city and exited at Las Ramblas, the main shopping drag. We did a little bit of browsing, met up with another chunk of the group, and headed for the food market.
This place was amazing! It blew the Mazatlán food market I visited in Mexico out of the water—not only was it even more enormous, but also cleaner and friendlier. The stalls numbered in the hundreds. There was dried fruit, nuts, and candies aplenty…
…and ZILLIONS of kaleidoscopically colored fresh fruit stands…
…all of which sold dozens of varieties of just-blended pure fruit smoothies for one measley Euro (~$1.50) apiece! In addition to strawberry, banana, kiwi, orange, blue/black/raspberry, watermelon, pineapple, peach, cantaloupe, mango, et al., there were such exotic flavors as passionfruit, guava, coconut, starfuit, papaya, lychee, dragonfruit, and more. They not only sold smoothies in all those individual flavors, but numerous combinations of them as well!
Mixed fruit bowls of all shapes and sizes were also sold for as low as 1€ each. I nabbed one of the square ones you see here.
I couldn’t possibly take pictures of all they offered, but we visited vendors selling bread, vegetables, olives and olive oil, pasta and rice, beans, sweets, and so much more.
I with my fruit, Melissa with her nuts, Greg with his kilo of cherries, Kim and Chiko with their just-cooked Nutella-and-banana crêpes (MMM), and Ardua and Leigh (I forget what they bought!) all caught the infamous bus 24 together from Plaça de Catalunya to Park Güell. I can’t even begin to describe the fascinating oddities of this park. It was designed by Gaudí, the architect who built La Sagrada Família (from the last entry), and it is full of complex stone structures, statues, mosaics, winding paths, dense foliage, and multiple levels. The main terrace offers a striking panoramic view of Barcelona and its bay. Our group sat on some stone benches and munched on our snacks.
It was a long, HOT day, and after riding bus 24 back to the end of Las Ramblas, we took some time to relax at a café with a couple pitchers of sangria. Twilight descended shortly thereafter, our entire group coalesced, and we walked just down the street to dinner at Cordobes, a buffet restaurant and flamenco bar.
I liked this buffet even better than the night before’s. They had tons of veggie dishes…
…more paella, of course…
…and innumerable other things, plus an extensive dessert bar.
My plate was full of yummy goods. Clockwise from top left: forbidden (black) rice pilaf, fideos (short, thin noodles cooked like rice), a spoonful of paella, a sliver of tortilla, one tiny potato dumpling, an oil-and-herb stuffed tomato, baked and roasted potatoes, rice with peas and pico de gallo, some bread, and in the middle (my favorite), an avocado wedge stuffed with chunky guacamole.
After dinner, we were escorted into the theatre and given glasses of champagne. What followed was one of the most exhilarating experiences of the trip—the flamenco show! The singing, the music, and especially the dancing were all dramatic and exciting, and every performer was extraordinarily talented. I felt so lucky and happy to be there. We all left gape-mouthed and dazzled.
Heartbreakingly, it was the final night for several of my fellow travelers, among them some of the best friends I’d made thus far. We rode our flamenco high to a little bar near our hotel, where we partied the night away. Bittersweet as it was, I had a [vodka-fueled] blast. Just look at these people—can you not tell what a crazy fun time we had together?!
Next, we say goodbye to Spain and curve northward along the French Riviera with a stay in gorgeous Nice.