Our tour guide Aidan had given us some extra advice at the end of our walk. “Try the cava,” he said. “It’s a local sparkling wine like Champagne. If you’re brave you can order sangria and cava, but just be careful because it’s strong and has quite a kick.”
“Also,” he continued. “I know that you probably don’t think of burgers when you think of Barcelona but we have some of the best burgers around.” Intrigued, I listened as he gave us the name and directions to a particular burger restaurant. As one who always appreciates a really good burger (and who, sadly has found so very few of them in my travels) I was intrigued. Yup, we’d be having burgers in Barcelona.
Emboldened by our newly-found knowledge of the city, Rosemarie and I stopped at a sidewalk café just off the plaza to have some more of the tapas (small dishes) that you find at all restaurants.
We ordered seafood tapas with mussels, seafood stuffed olives, a bag of chips, and miniature clams that when eaten burst forth with the sweet clean flavor of a salty beach breeze.
I also ordered a cava, Rosemarie a sangria. This restaurant didn’t serve them together. “But you could just add them yourself,” the waiter told me. I declined and instead poured my wine from its dark green bottle into my glass.
We ate our tapas. Never one for mussels, I tried one hoping the texture had changed since the last time I had eaten one. It hadn’t. Instead I concentrated on the tiny clams placing them delicately on top of a chip. Sweet, salty. Perfect.
Glassware is a little different in Barcelona’s restaurants. It’s smaller. Flutes are slender and when served wine you don’t get the typical stemmed wine glass, instead you typically get a low round glass. “It’s so small,” Marc said when I showed him the photos. “You’d have to constantly keep refilling it.”
But that’s the point. People don’t chug wine or alcohol like we Americans do. (In fact if you want to locate a tourist, look out for the people who finish a drink before the food even arrives.) Instead they sip their drinks from small glasses while eating the food.
Always with food.
As we sat, I looked out onto the busy plaza across the street. It was now late afternoon. People had woken from their siestas (yes, they really do close shops at midday) and were getting ready for the evening. A low-key energy buzzed – people soaking in the light of the sun before it set. Different languages floated to us as parade after parade of tourists passed by. I saw a gay couple – both men dressed in stylish black, animated in their discussion, holding hands. No big deal.
I watched as a woman worked her way through a crowd. Watch your valuables, I thought. If you lose them, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Along with the sun’s heat, I had, even on our first day in Spain, absorbed some of the Barcelonan culture. It is what it is. Nothing to get excited about.
Our waiter came by, “Would you like another?”
“Si, Senior, yes, please.”
When the drinks arrived, I leaned back in my chair, turned my face toward the sun viewing the entertainment before me, and I exhaled.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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