Barcelona!

Yes! Sunshine again and clear skies. 10 degrees warmer than London, the atmosphere is dry, it only rains at night (whoever organised that deserves a medal) and the apartment has views of the monument of Christopher Columbus (high profile figure in many places, given his discovery of the Americas launched Spain into a period of enormous wealth), El Puerto y El Mediterraneo! Plus, the owner of the apartment (a very intense mid-thirty Catelan film maker) provided a welcomIng bottle of cava – and glasses – because the previous tenants had broken the lot.

Pleased as I am to be back in Espana, my one frustration is that Castellano (Spanish to the rest of the world) is the second language here. Catalan is the first language, and whilst everyone speaks Castellano – signs, menus, information – are primarily in Catalan. So my ability to use Spanish (the rest of the world version) is challenged: tomaquetas  instead of tomates; rebaixes instead of rebajas (sales); sisplau instead of por favour (please); and let’s not go anywhere near the days of the week!

Furthermore, this year is the 300th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona – an impressive archaeological dig under a 19th century former wholesale market building contains the story. d a small, vocal proportion of the local population would like to secede from the rest of Spain, so as the anniversary date draws nearer there will be plenty of memorial  activities.

Again have an apartment located in an immigrant area (origins Pakistan and Bangladesh), economic migrants making a living running small businesses such as fruit and vegetables, mixed businesses specialising in goods from their home country (care for a kilo of paprika anyone?) or eateries. The locale is also near the bottom end of Las Ramblas, the main tourist drag, lined with lots of restaurants doing the ‘menu del dia’ for 8 euros. The food is pretty ordinary and the serves never seem to be as big as the photos indicate – but there is a busy tourist trade. Souvenir shops abound. It’s an area where it’s wise to keep your wits about you, your shoulder bag across your body in front of you, and to be alert to people moving into your personal space. The host of the apartment did issue a caution about pick-pockets.