Trails and trials of the writer who walks
I’m beginning to run out of walking routes now – there only remains the area to the ‘map south west’ of my hostel (I have to call it that, because in reality it’s south. I remember once in Spain picking up a tourist map that had south at the top. It’s nice to know they don’t have any orientation issues in this country.)
Today’s price-busting breakfast was a coffee and bikini for less than 2 euros. And boy, was that coffee strong! I wonder how cheese and ham toastie got to be christened bikini? Because it has a top and a bottom perhaps? I forgot to use their loo so it wasn’t long before I was on my second coffee of the morning somewhere else (this is a self-perpetuating situation of course. I often have beer stops for the same reason.) But here, I can avail myself of the ‘servicios’ plus enjoy a strong ‘cortado’ for about 80 pence whereas at Manchester Piccadilly Station, it will cost 30 pence for a wee without so much as a whiff of coffee thrown in.
Today’s meandering route takes in Parc Juan Miro. I have a special interest in this artist because I once copied a picture of his on to an entire wall of my flat. I chose Miro, not because he was my favourite artist, but because his designs used only a few colours and shapes. If you can draw a decent circle and a straight line, you too can be a Miro artist. In the park stands one tall but very lonely Miro-esque statue, and not much else. I snapped it out of respect for the old guy and carried on to Placa Espanya. Some place names and signs have the Catalan spelling, some are in Castilian and some sport both. I didn’t hear many people speaking Catalan to each other.
Placa Espanya flaunts some pretty grandiose but Gaudi-free architecture. A landscaped hill rises up to the palatial National Art Gallery. How kind of the gardeners to provide an escalator. I’ve never ridden an outdoor escalator before. At the top is a superb view of the city. I was very tempted to pay the 12 euro entrance fee for the gallery but in view of my tight budget, I settled instead for a 50 cent investment in the telescope.
Next en route was the Market St Antoni which looked like a magnificent structure but was closed for renovation. I wonder if January is ‘national renovation month’? There was a temporary building to house the market stalls so I wandered around that. How hit and miss are prices. One day I’m in a smart and comfortable bar paying one euro for a glass of rioja, and the next I’m at a draughty market stall forking out more than 8 for a small beer and a small tapa. I don’t think that was tourist price either (unless they have a very smart till) as the bill was printed and itemised. Of course the bread which I hadn’t asked for was charged as well. TIP: when you place your order, tell them straight away you don’t want bread!