Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Barcelona Day 2

Mom & Dad are up way too early for my liking as I'm still working off a sleep deficit. First order of business is to grab something for breakfast and then purchase some groceries. There is a Starbucks across the street and up half a block. Yesterday I had noticed that they had a wi-fi sign in the window so when ordering coffee Pops asked about the charges. You could purchase a card (similar to their coffee cards) and use them at any Starbucks with wi-fi access. Great, except they're wi-fi wasn't working and the guy behind the counter didn't know where the next closest one was.

There is a large market down another block that we go and explore. I purchase something that looks like Parma Ham, some brie, 3 different kinds of olives, Dad picked up a bottle of wine, Mom got some fresh fruit and we wander up and down the stalls looking at what else there is. I kinda had to quicken my pace as we got to the meat stalls with rabbit carcases and goat heads (why am I not a vegetarian).

Mom is really not feeling well so I send her back up to the apartment and I finish the grocery shopping. There is a grocery store just up the other side of the block. Checking out a grocery store is a good way to immerse yourself into a new culture, especially when you don't speak/read the language. I figured out which tetra packs were milk and was able to determine the semi-skim from the whole milk by finding the calorie count marked on the side. Another observation is the lack of organic and fair trade products here. Normally I always purchase organic yogurt as I think it tastes superior but I don't see anything like that here so have to due with a 8-pack of Danone. Even the shopping baskets are different. I grabbed what I thought was just a hand held basket but when I pulled it up out of the stack it was very very deep and the handle was only half a handle. It wasn't until I looked around that I noticed the bottom of the basket had wheels and the handle was used to pull the basket. So my little shopping trip involved purchasing milk, yogurt, Agua con gas, juice, muesli, butter and a box of Kleenex for Mom.

As Mom is down with a nasty cold she's going to stay behind and Dad and I will wander. The last few things on the shopping list are coffee, bread and a Digital Hi-8mm tape for their camcorder. It's a spectacular day out, blue sky and a very comfortable temperature - not too hot. Just nice for walking around. We zip in and out of shops that have electronics to try and find the tape (found it eventually) and I attempt to get us lost on purpose a few times but I guess my sense of direction is too good.

We start exploring the cathedral complex & the Gothic quarter and I am appreciating the fact that this is not high season as many of the little alcoves around the building only have a few people in them. Both Dad and I are having fun playing with our cameras and experimenting with different shots. The gothic quarter is just really cool to wander around in. All these twisty turny little corridors. We stumble upon the one place I found last night that had a sign on the window advertising internet. It's part of a hostel. I go to the counter and ask if they have wireless access. He doesn't understand what that means and keeps pointing to the back of the room and saying they have a computer with internet. But it's not working (are you noticing the trend here).

We find a bakery and pick up 3 different baguettes with meat and cheese, I find a Starbucks that has FairTrade coffee and then we head back to the apartment to see how Mom's doing. She's still feeling awful but is glad we've brought some lunch. As it's now early afternoon the city has again shut down for siesta. I load the few pictures I've taken so far into my computer and can barely keep my eyes open. It just kinda sneaks up on you. Must be all that walking and sunshine. So all 3 of us decide to join in with the local population and have a siesta.

After the afternoon snooze Dad and I are on a mission to find a place with wi-fi so we can check email and confirm our Paris details. The Lonely Planet guide says the city is full of internet cafe's but not from what I've seen so far. In the book it shows 2 such places close by where we are. We find the first but no wi-fi, only a coin operated machine where you purchase your time and then the machine spits out an account number and Pin code. Then you sit at one of the kiosks in the shop and use their keyboard and wall mounted monitors. This doesn't help me as there are a few files I saved to my laptop hard drive (like yesterday's blog entry) that I can't upload unless I can get a wireless connection. The kiosks don't have the actual CPU's so I can't even save the data to a disk to transfer. So it's email only.

When that is done we try the Starbucks route again. This time I pull up their corporate website to see if I can get a list of Barcelona shops with internet access available. There seems to be one further along the street we're on at the moment so I send Dad off on a mission to try and find it while I finish up here.

He comes back about 10 minutes later saying he didn't find it but he did come across a Business Centre that had wi-fi. Yeah!! So I pack up everything and find the place and am able to fire up the laptop and feel connected to the world again.

We walk back to the apartment another way through more little side streets and alleys and lastly pick up the loaf of bread. Mom is up and feeling human enough to attempt to go out for dinner as long as it's not too far away. We walk up to the square in front of the Cathedral and Mom zero's in on a place with pictures of the menu items and serves Paella. It becomes obvious quickly that this isn't the fanciest of restaurants. The paper placemats were the first clue & the red wine straight out of the fridge was the second. I wasn't all that hungry so I just ordered a few tapas. Had some interesting olives stuffed with capers and tuna. Still not sure if interesting qualifies as good.

Another long day, my feet hurt and I'm dead tired. Day 3 to follow shortly.

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