Monday, October 19, 2009

bye-bye, barcelona

We began the day holding about 102,75 euros and a metro pass with 8 rides still on it. The goal was to finish the day with 0 rides on the metro pass, and as few euros as possible.

We have apparently succeeded.

We took the metro to the big flea-market (Encants) where, last Friday morning, we bought a few chachkas. One of the more interesting stalls, though, was a guy who was selling a large number of original art pieces, by real Catalan artists. Many were framed, but he also had many pieces unframed. We had looked at a couple of items the other day, but didn't buy anything.

This morning, we attempted to find him again, amid the incredible bustle of the market. We did, and, a half-hour later, after much haggling, I am the owner of a small original semi-abstract oil by Carlos Alonso-Eugenia, born in Barcelona 1929 and now dead. The original price was 120 (the dealer said it would go for 150 in a gallery) but Karen, with flair and determination, got it down to 80. I am happy, and Art Man seemed content.

Next, on our way out of the market, she spied a decorative metal tray, with arabic writing on the back. The guy wanted 40 euros, but, since we only had 20 left, she offered 20. He scoffed, then, as we shrugged and walked away, he said 'OK'.

Now we were down to about 2,75 euros. We took the metro back to our neighborhood, dropped off our new treasures, then went back to L'Oronete, the neighborhood bistro where we had a great lunch on the first day. They take credit cards, so lunch was able to proceed.

For first course, Karen had the standard Catalan salad (lettuce, olives, assorted hams, etc), and I had a very delicious, hot, bubbly casserole of stuffed red-peppers in an eggy, cheesy sauce. It was major comfort food.

For second course, Karen had merluza (hake) and I had rabbit, which tasted like very good chicken. It was a delicious lunch, accompanied by white wine, good flan (Karen had a pear for dessert), and two Cafe Americanos. 21 euros, thanks to Visa.

Back at The Patio, we rested, then met the new couple just arriving -- from Portland! Small world. We chatted and it was nice.

By the middle of the afternoon, we were ready to go out for our final tourist swing. We took the metro down to the Liceu stop, walked thru La Boqueria, the large, touristy market, walked along the crowded, touristy Rambla, then into the quieter streets of the Old City.

The neighborhood just to the east of the main cathedral was the old Jewish quarter, and we walked its dim, quiet, cavern-like streets. The occasional marker confirmed that this was the place. I know my ancestors lived in Toledo, and I believe they ended up in Salonika, and Barcelona was the logical departure point for Mediterranean ports, so I imagined my ancestors strolling those streets, as their final days in Spain approached (quickly).

It may not have actually happened that way, of course, but it's easy to think so.

It was now late afternoon. We took the metro back to our neighborhood (using the final rides on our metro pass). We popped into the Internet cafe just around the corner, to login to Delta and print boarding passes. I paid the 25 cents for 15 minutes of computer time (significantly diminishing my remaining cash).

I got pretty far into the check-in process before Delta insisted on my retyping our passport numbers (which they certainly already have, and which I did not have on me). 13 minutes left!

I ran back to our room, grabbed the documents, ran back, completed the check-in, and printed the boarding passes. Of course, it printed 3 pages of garbage along with the passes, so that was 7 pages at 20 cents/page.

I now have about 4 coins in my pocket, worth less than 1 euro. Mission accomplished!

Back at The Patio, we chatted more with the Portland couple. I sold them my Barcelona guide-book (still with its Powells sticker) for 5 dollars (US), and gave them the unused coupons, maps, and other tourist info, that we will no longer be using.

It's now 6 pm. I have started my final packing. In a couple of hours we will go out for our final dinner (as long as they take Visa), and, tomorrow morning, Tony will drive us to the airport. We should be home before midnight.

As Karen and I were walking thru the metro on our way back, late this afternoon, I said something like '...and remember the time we went to Spain?'

She said, 'oh yes, I remember that trip - what year was that?'

No comments: