I would like to take a moment to wish myself a Happy Birthday. No, in all seriousness I would like to share how ridiculously nice my unplanned overseas birthday was. Keep in mind that there are still celebratory actions pending upon my return to Costa Rica (*hint hint to any of my colleagues reading this).
On November 19th 2012 I had a plan. This plan of course was somewhat derailed and ended in complete pleasantry (for everyone involved I hope). Before we go any further, I should assure you that no one was hurt during the process of this blogging.
I was in Barcelona, which is part of Catalunya (Which apparently is not considered Spain. I know, I know, I hadn’t received the memo either!) Anyhow, I set out for the famous Boqueria Market for breakfast. Back home I love having breakfast at my local farmer’s market, so it seemed suiting. I went to Pinotxos Bar (pronounced “pinochos”) for breakfast hoping to order xiuxos (pronounced “chuchos”) per the recommendation of a recently acquired colleague. Much to my dismay, there were no xiuxos to be found. I ordered tortilla and coffee and boy was it good! I also made Juan, the owner, promise to have xiuxos the next morning for me if I returned.
I walked around the market snapping shots of new ingredients and who should I meet other than Chef Alan Wong! One of the most important chefs in Hawai’i that I wanted to meet for the whole time I was there, but couldn’t. He wished me luck with my travels and we parted ways. I then strolled over to the Encants flea market to scratch my antique junkie itch. I browsed for about 45 minutes purchased a few trinkets. My prized possession of the day was a 1960 nudie pen. You know, the ones where you flip the pen upwards and the girl’s clothes slide off? I was tickled silly about my pen all day.
I did some sightseeing around the city. I saw the local arc of triumph, bought gin and tonic flavored gummi candies and stopped at different coffee shops and tapa bars for snacks. My strategy was to have only one dish at each establishment and therefore force myself to get lost on the streets of Barcelona, find a new place to munch and try something new.
The best part of my day came to me in the form of another lost city explorer. A tall apparition, very easy on the eyes, walked my way with a ‘I wonder if you can help me’ kind of smile I recognized right away. We soon realized we were both headed to the same place and were not really sure how to get there. I figured, two heads are better than one right?
We found our way to Park Guell exchanging delightful conversation. We saw the city, passed live musicians, snapped photos and laughed while exchanging travel stories. This kindred spirit hit every chord just right. Unfortunately, he was killing time and time flies when you are having fun. He had a flight to catch and cut it close by inviting me to lunch. Lunch was short and sweet. I was sad to see him go but glad circumstance (and my efforts to attract awesome unexpectedness) had brought us together. And with a Catalunyan, double cheek kiss good-bye, Michal was gone.
I continued exploring Barcelona throughout the afternoon and stopped for dinner at a local hotspot named Ciudad Condal. It gets packed early and I had to wait for about 25 minutes, but it was well worth it. After assuring the staff and an onlooker that, “yes, I only need a table for one” I sat down to Cava sangria and yummy tapas. I quickly made friends with curious diners eyeballing my succession of dishes. My table of one migrated towards theirs and then we met the adjacent table and ended up as a group of 5. All of the people were interesting, bright and cheerful. I invited them to breakfast the next day (which they actually showed up for) and headed home one year older and excited about the next 365 days to come.
As a side note I thought I would let you guys in on a little competition I started. I have a photograph of an art piece I saw somewhere during my travels, I posted it and will include it here. Whoever can guess the name of the photo correctly first will get a chocolate or sweet from Europe. The original rules allow for one guess, but seeing as I am flattered that you read my endless ramblings I will let you have 2!
Guess away and stay tuned…