Barcelona this trip is merely a stop over – a chance to, hopefully, get a good night’s sleep before the horror of flying back to Australia, cattle class. I’m on my own. Not something I experience all that often whilst overseas – a single stranger in a strange land.
My train from San Sebastián arrives at the allotted time. I had decided I would catch a taxi to the hotel, some 2km away, rather than schlep my suitcase and backpack up & down stairs at the metro. But, it turns out that the Barcelona taxis are on strike today. The man at the taxi rank, who has the unenviable task of passing on this news to many disgruntled tourists, kindly turns his attention to the map on my phone. Together we work out a route for me to walk, and luckily it is via landmarks I recognise.
I stop for a cafe con leche along the way as a caffeine withdrawal headache is starting, then soldier on. In no time really I am at Hotel Market. The lovely lady on reception claims to recognise my face from my last visit a year ago. It feels very welcoming. I have a lovely room on the 6th floor, with a shared lounge and a view over local life around the Sant Antoni market. I can hear dogs yapping – some one must have brought their dogs with them to the hotel. Wouldn’t surprise me – dogs seem to go everywhere with their owners here.
After settling in, I venture forth. I do a quick check of the San Antoni market renovations – a massive job, and it is looking good, but still off limits to people. I’m sure it will be fabulous when it is finally finished.
Having missed breakfast and lunch, except for survival snacks on the train, I have a goal in mind. Reserva Iberica, that palace to all things porcine, and acorn fed. I order a tasting platter of jamon for one, and a glass of rosado. The platter looks the same size as the one Pete and I shared a few weeks ago, but I am up for the challenge. I sit and happily munch away, whilst watching the crowds pass by on the Ramblas.
It is then back to the hotel for some R & R. I head out again around 8, to a small wine bar I had spotted around the corner. It’s a cosy little place that sells an array of wine by the glass. I settle in, with a glass of red from Montsant. There are only a handful of others in the wine bar, but evidence of more – I must be in between shifts. I notice people coming in with empty bottles of all shapes. They make a quick stop to the bar, then leave with full bottles. Turns out you can bring an empty litre container and get it filled with the wine of your choice from huge barrels lining the wall. What a great idea for your everyday quaffing wine.
I then move on to a little local restaurant I had noticed on my walk to the hotel, 2 blocks away in the same street. I had Googled it and it sounded interesting – established since 1921, three sets of owners. The most recent owners, once customers, had bought it a few years back and installed a male chef to maintain the traditions but bring a touch of modernity, or so the website says. Several interesting looking menus on the website. Can Miserias. Worth a try I thought. I see no sign of the male chef – there seems to be an older lady in the kitchen – nor the different menus that were on offer on the website, or the touches of modernity. But, the food is simple and tasty, and the owner/waiter very welcoming.
I arrive at 8.45. Early I know for Spain, but not too bad. There is one other diner – an elderly male, who amuses himself with his smart phone. I am placed at one end, he is at the other. Only one other diner arrives, just as I am finishing up – another elderly male, with his newspaper and bifocal glasses. It gets me thinking about the name, Miserias. Is this the spot where lonely old men – widowers maybe – have their evening meal. They certainly seem to be regulars. How nice that they have somewhere to go – to have a well cooked, simple, meal, and a little bit of interaction, even if it is just with the owner. But, I am concerned that with this level of clientele, Can Miserias may not be seeing another decade.
I’m in and out in 45 minutes. Back to the hotel to luxuriate in all my space. I shall sleep in, then wander out for a late breakfast before packing up and catching the airport bus, which stops just around the corner. Home again, home again jigetty jog.