Rafelguaraf - Barcelona
After a hearty breakfast, we were on the road headed for Barcelona by 9am. I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this road sign - Peñiscola anyone?
I have to admit that I was quite nervous as we approached Spain's second largest city, thanks to the numerous media reports of tyre slashings and various other automobile theft schemes in operation. Thankfully, we arrived at our hotel unscathed and managed (with difficulty!) to manoeuver our beast of a vehicle into the secure parking lot.
For a lover of food like yours truly, I made sure our first port of call was Mercat de la Boqueria. This market is pulsating with colour and life and I just wished our accommodation was self-contained so I could purchase every vibrant ingredient in sight and cook up a storm. Instead, we had to settle on lots of fruit.
We managed to secure a seat at one of the many small vendors at the market and employed our now sophisticated mime skills to order a couple of coffees and what appeared to be a sweet pastry. The pastry turned out to be an incredibly delicious accompaniment to our coffees - a sweet pumpkin empanada of sorts.
Okay, one more shot of market "food porn" before I move on.
Our walk back to the hotel along Las Ramblas was full to the brim of character, with street performers, spruikers and beggars sharing the busy promenade.
Opposite our hotel we noticed that the opera Carmen was showing at Theatre Victoria. We investigated and were thrilled that seats were available to the evening's "early" show. Amusingly, what we thought was an opera, was instead a flamenco interpretation of the opera. We realised this about five minutes into the show, after much dancing, trumpeting and guitar playing....but no singing (I know, we're not the brightest pennies in the fountain at times!). Despite being performed in an unexpected artform, the dancing was outstanding and we didn't regret attending for one second.
After the flamenco spectacular, we headed to a local restaurant (oddly packed with police having dinner). A friendly young waiter saw our arrival as a perfect excuse to practise his English skills and recommended we try a basic starter (partially pictured top left, below), involving toasted bread, garlic cloves, fresh tomatoes and olive oil. The garlic and tomato was rubbed on the bread, which was then drizzled in olive oil. What a simple, but tasty meal idea! Our Iberian meat platter, steak and crema catalana weren't too shabby either.