Episode 2 – Barcelona – A City You Can Fall in Love With
The advantage of being senior is incredible. All of a sudden I pay admission fees to a lot of museums, galleries and tourist sightseeing points at a hefty discount. This arrangement motivates me to see more and explore more. We do not need to shy away from anything. The authorities take the discounting very seriously and check for ID. So guard your passports well after you use them.
Transportation in Barcelona is not as difficult as it looks. Just follow the colours. The roads and streets in Europe are mostly in a spider web form. The piazzas are the centers and main avenues would branch out like the spokes of a wheel. If you are lost, do not panic, follow the road straight and eventually you will reach another connecting piazza. Then you can find your location easier on the map.
Another tip to help is to carry a name card of the place you are staying. The last solution is to jump into a cab and show the name card with the address of your hotel and you can reach home safe.
If you are adventurous enough to try the subway system in Barcelona, they are not as difficult as you imagine. Metro – the three subway lines are in Red, Green, and Blue. They all converge onto a station called Catalunya. When you are reading the subway map, always read the names of the ending stations. The names of the ending station will appear on the train to show you the direction the train is heading. You can be sure you are going in the right direction.
At the Catalunya station, you get off the subway and follow the sign that says La Rambla, which is the sightseeing street on the right hand side once you get out of the station. La Rambla is a walking street filled with street stalls that sell flowers, souvenirs, clothing, shoes, and eateries of all kinds. You follow the street and it will lead you to a side street which opens to a square and the St. Joseph market is right there waiting for your embrace.
The market houses fresh fruits and vegetables and meats and cheeses but most importantly, they have small restaurants which major in Tapas. These tapas bars can offer bite size morsels of all different colour, texture, taste. The market is packed with people. The fruit stands also sell different kinds of fruit juices. I tried the coconut and the fragrance of the juice is just intoxicating.
It was lunch time, un paraíso de alimentos = a paradise of food, and we headed to the tapas bar. This time we decided on seafood. There were no line-ups. You just stand behind the people who are eating and pray they will finish fast to offer an empty seat. There were people behind you waiting for the same miracle, so do not complain.
I got my seats. There was a display showcase of all different tapas they served. An overhead blackboard had the prices scribbled on it. I breathed a sigh of relief when I looked back at the ring of people surrounding me waiting for their seats. The time was 1:30 PM, perfect time for lunch. How to order your food? No problem, just point and use sign language. I looked around me and tried to figure out the most popular dish. Most of the dishes were seafood and most of them were grilled. There were some deep fried stuff but they could not compete with the smell of grilled shell fish.
The grilled shrimp appeared first. It was so sweet and savoury. The meat of the shrimps was so sweet but firm. They came with heads on and you could taste the sweetness of the roe. Spanish cooking use olive oil and the oil also contribute a different flavour. You should also try some grilled octopus. The meat was tender and it did not have the strong fishy smell. Then came the star of the meal – razor clam. This kind of shell fish has very thin shells and they are about the length of a chopstick. They were grilled open-faced and the juice of the meat could draw you into a dream of sensations. You can spend the whole day eating this shell fish with some light aromatic white wine. Spanish people have a drink called vino verde which means green wine. It is a cousin of the white wine sangria. You can sit and sip this drink and float slowly into a stage of Shangri-la. Now I am swooned with lazy energy. I did not want to move but the people behind me were growling, so I did the next best thing, paid up and exited.
On the way out, at the edge of the market, we found an eatery with a “wok” in name. There was a large display window and 2 Spanish youngsters were cooking traditional Chinese dishes with a little wok. They must have spent some time in training as they blench, toss, fry, cook and sauce in that little wok just like the chefs in Chinese restaurants. All ingredients are charged a-la-carte but the line-up was incredible. In conclusion, you can make easy money from women and children. You can make the same easy money from tourists.