Amanda Bennett: A Year in Zaragoza, Spain

Saint Stephen’s Day: that’s right, another Christmas holiday December 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — psychohistoria @ 5:08 pm

Another day without much of anything open. However, we called a few museums and found out that the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona would indeed be open in the morning. Although Heather and I doubted the art status of many of the exhibits, a few pieces were good, and we ran into another SYA girl and her family to laugh over the ludicrous “art” with.

Heather’s parents had gone to see Barcelona’s oldest church, and we met back up on La Rambla. Heather’s mother had found a few Gaudí houses nearby, but before walking over, they mentioned that wandering around near the church they’d found the Arabic quarter, including some great-looking bakeries. Seeing as we all loved Arabic desserts, we walked back over and bought a few. I had a delicious little square of shredded phyllo dough, pistachios, and chocolate, and another diamond of phyllo dough and cashews.

The Gaudí houses were located on what came to be known as “La Manzana de Discordia”, the block of discord. However, it is also a pun on the Spanish word “manzana”, which means “apple” as well as “city block”, giving the name a double meaning due to the Greek myth of the judgement of Paris and the apple of discord.

However, rather than leading to the Trojan War, Gaudí’s houses are more likely to lead to the exhaustion of camera batteries. I haven’t ever seen buildings like his!

One block over is the “Casa de Pedrera”, another Gaudí building, inspired by the sea.

We decided to wind our way back to the center, killing time until our dinner reservation. George had made it for us at another recommended restaurant, this one serving typical Catalonian fare. Since one of Heather’s and my friend was in Barcelona with his family, we decided to invite the six of them, augmenting our reservation to a table for 10. The restaurant had no problem, since our reservation was at 8, rather early by Spanish standards. However, it was only about 5:30, so we had a multitude of time to pass.

We spied a church with its doors open, a nice-looking refuge from the drizzly outdoors.

What luck that we had stumbled upon such a lovely building!

We also found the “Palau”, Barcelona’s main concert hall. The exterior was incredibly gorgeous, and the lobby was lovely as well – perhaps I’ll try to go see something when I go back to Barcelona.

Walking down windy streets and taking gut-instinct turns to lead us back to La Rambla, I had the idea to go to Les Cuatre Gats, the café frequented by Picasso and other “bohemian” artists in the early 20th century. As we pulled out the guide book to see if the café was listed, we looked to our right and there it was! We were quite literally standing on its doorstep. Very excited, we decided to go in for a pre-dinner coffee.

The name of the café means “The Four Cats”, playing on a Spanish idiom. If you were to ask me about a concert I played in and I said that there were four cats there, it means that no one showed up or that hardly anyone came.

We arrived to the restaurant right on time and just before the Bowens. Unable to pass up what I knew would be a great dish, I ordered espinacas a la catalana again, and decided to be brave and try the traditional calçots, spring onions roasted on coals and eaten with a cream sauce. They were served in a long wooden platter, and the waitress demonstrated how to eat them: firmly hold the bottom, pull the tender center out of the charred outside, dip into the sauce, and try to eat the spring onion without causing too much of a mess. A fun and very Catalonian dinner!

We headed to a bar to continue our conversation after dinner, and once again didn’t arrive home until after midnight. Our last night in Barcelona didn’t start until our last day!

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