So it's been just over two weeks in Barcelona. We're getting used to the nearby church clock chimes (a chime per quarter of an hour, and then on the hour we get four from the first bell plus the hour from a second bell, which sounds slightly flat: midnight goes on for 16 chimes), the constant battle between the electric trucks that hose the streets down (one drove through our street while I was writing this, and I grabbed the picture above) and the dodgy-looking (and worse-smelling) puddles in the calles, and the 77 (76? 78? I counted several times and got 77 most often) steps up to the apartment. We're not shopping at the nearby mercado de St. Catarina as much as we probably should be, but we are eating pretty damn well. The steps are quite a disincentive to go out for dinner, to be honest, so we've been taking advantage of the lovely fruit-n-veg shops nearby and cooking up a storm.
Yesterday was the 308th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona in the War of Spanish Succession, which is a Really Big Thing here. There was a police helicopter hovering almost directly above us for most of the day, and massive crowds dressed mostly in Catalan flags. We were extremely boring and only went out to have Japano-Brazilian food in the evening: predictably it wasn't anywhere near awesome, but it wasn't a total failure either. And thank all of you who've commented or sent messages saying we shouldn't be trying to eat Asian food here, but please shut up: we miss our local sushi-ya and sometimes one has to follow one's heart (or stomach, rather). A note to anybody wanting dumplings, though: buy the frozen Japanese ones at the Chinese supermarket near Plaça de Catalunya and cook them at home rather than going to Mosquito in El Born. Oh, and I've never appreciated Susan's mee goreng more. Here's some Catalan food porn, though: tomatoes, mozarella, and anchovies at Tapas 24 (much more photogenic than the smashed eggs with bottifarra negra, but not as good) and the salted tuna heart with almonds from Quimet and Quimet (thank you so much for taking us there, Danijel and Isabella)
I wasn't going to fill this full of pictures, but now I've started talking about Q&Q it's hard to resist: here's a picture of us with the lovely Jeff V. being very excited about the beer, and one of me being extremely pleased at having scored a very reasonably-priced pour of 25 year-old Laphroaig:
Spanish lessons continue unabated, nevertheless. La pelota de perdición is not being thrown around the classroom as much as last week, possibly because our esteemed profesor fears a revolt. I'm ridiculously thankful for those French and Latin lessons thirty years ago (although there are a lot of amigos falsos there: if "we have" is tenemos then part of me wants to say tenevos not teneís next, and hablar sounds far more like avoir than parler). We only have a couple of days left, though, and everybody's tired. The cheap jokes (cf. proudly demonstrating my knowledge of the present tense first person form of "to be" with yo no soy mariñero, soy capitan) and obscure references (come on: who's actually ever watched a Bigas Luna movie since 1992) aren't coming as easily as they used to. Susan tried to turn a lesson on numbers greater than a hundred into a conversation today by asking how old our profesor is and got slapped down with arithmetic: nobody really wants to subtract 36 from 2018 in any language.
But, as a wiser man than me once said, we have sin gaz and con leche; we have fiesta and feria. And what more could you ask for?