A late start to our Sunday meant it was nearly afternoon when we arrived at metro Liceu and began our exploration of Barri Gòtic. No sooner were we off the metro and we were into La Granja café for chocolate and churros – a very civilised way to kick off the day proper: breakfasting like regular Catalans on wooden benches around a rickety table in a tiny unassuming café run by a smiling family. That’s how it’s done.
We meandered our way past trendy, funky, modern shops housed in medieval buildings in cool narrow laneways, that always seemed to spill out onto squares, large and small. The Plaça de Sant Jaume, the centre of politics and commerce of the old city, led us to the Gothic La Catedral. This house of worship was begun in the late 13th century, but wasn’t completed for another 600 years. Not an unusual delay for such a structure in that time in history. John and other members of our little party of friends tell me that the interior of the cathedral was similar to most other cathedrals – but as I was wearing shorts, I was not allowed in to check it out for myself. I gave it a good try, though, and was more than peeved when I saw others getting in with sleeveless tops and short skirts. Didn’t want to see it anyway, she mutters as she sits on a bench outside waiting for the others…
Leaving the side entrance point of the cathedral and moving around to the front, we happened upon the Sardana exhibition in the Plaça Nova. Sardana is a Catalan folk dance, and each Sunday loyal Catalans gather to jig about in gigantic circles to show their Catalan pride and celebrate their history. The average age of the performers has got to be 80, but they and their audience have a wonderful time as they strut to the live music accompaniment. There really were masses of people – the entire square outside the cathedral was filled to the brim.
Lunch was had at Rasoterra – a vegetarian joint in Gòtic. They had amazing food – healthy and very delicious. The best of our selection were the black beans with corn tortilla chips and salsa, with the tempeh and ginger skewers a close second. It’s always great to find a vegetarian restaurant that also pleases the carnivores in the troupe.
Our evening brought us to Plaça Reial – probably the most beautiful square in Barcelona, doted with palm trees and flanked with neoclassical archways (legacy of the convent that once existed here). Our goal was a flamenco show, and we got probably the best value flamenco of our trip at Los Tarantos. We opted for the early performance (8:30pm – early tour the next day) and arrived just as it was starting. At first, we were a little disappointed, because we had standing room only spots, but this area was near the bar, and actually had the best views of the stage…albeit from the side. It meant we could top up the sangria jug without disturbing anyone (except for those audience members who were stuck in rows of seats and were jealously hankering after our freedom of movement…and refreshments!) The dancers, singers and musicians were excellent, and we got to see a variety of traditional dances, all performed with the same passion and intense focus that we had witnessed in the other high quality performers in our Spanish travels.
After the show we enjoyed a light meal on the Plaça Reial, enjoying the ambience of fading light, fountain, arches, palm trees and people…and a really thick hot chocolate.
We found our apartment on Oh-Barcelona.