Posts Tagged 'shopping'

along barcelona’s kebab trail

We arrived in Barcelona straight from the Veneto countryside and the winding streets of Venice. The city immediately hit me with its endless stretching avenues, crowded streets, chain fast food, cars, vespas. It felt like stepping back into reality after three weeks in some faraway land called Italy. We retreated into our hotel room that afternoon and napped a long nap.

Barcelona streching into the hills

Barcelona streching into the hills

By midnight, we woke up from hunger and began our journey through Barcelona following our stomachs.  We headed towards las Ramblas, a pedestrian strip bordered on both sides by one lane streets  and touristy shops. There we found empanadas, Estrella for one euro, hash, “anything you like” being sold by men of Middle Eastern or North African descent. I saw small clusters of girls standing together and only realized they were prostitutes when they slipped their arm around a man or whispered something in his ear as they walked by. In an American city, a street like this may be one to be avoided, but in Barcelona it made for a strange, but lively place to walk and hang out at night.

Eventually, we headed off las Ramblas, through an arcaded plaza, onto a side street, and straight into a kebab diner. Kebab, one of the three main food groups in Barcelona, is readily availabe especially late at night and consistently better than the other two food groups: ham sandwiches and tapas. (Expensive tapas though is another story and quite good). The kebabs were not overly greasy like the ones in New York and filled with  interesting ingredients that varied from diner to diner. That night we hungrily wolfed down our first kebab with some distinct looking hummus and slowly enjoyed our second at another diner serving kebab with red cabbage with a can of Estrella.

For lunch the next day, doner kebab with green olives on a less crowded side of las Ramblas

For lunch the next day, doner kebab with green olives on a less crowded side of las Ramblas

The next day, following, a lunch of doner kebab with green olives, we headed off in search of a place to sit and watch Barcelona. On our meandering path, we walked past a shop advertising vintage sunglasses which had just reopened after siesta . I had decided earlier in the trip that my only personal purchase would be a pair of good sunglasses, so we went in.  What we discovered was a small room filled with shelves of glamorous, flashy, intricate sunglasses. As I looked through the shelves, the owner brought out  boxes filled with even more sunglasses from which he picked out specific ones to try on .  The owner whose name I forget is a young guy in his twenties. He told me that he always loved sunglasses and began collecting them seriously around the age of 19. He was particularly loved those from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and now takes trips to find vintage sunglasses to sell in his store.

Everyone looks cool in sunglasses by Police from Wilde Vintage

Everyone looks cool in these sunglasses by Police from Wilde Vintage

I finally decided on some ridiculous, super glam 70s pair for 65 euro.  As I payed for the sunglasses with cash I borrowed because of debit card issues, I looked up and saw the top shelves lined with super chic vintage bags and the glass case by the door filled with large, bold earrings. The guy has impeccable taste. I took a few bags down from the shelf but restrained myself and swore to come back the next day with a full wallet. Unfortunately, I passed the store during siesta hours and no purchases were made.  When in Barcelona, Wilde Vintage is a must.

Leftover from doner kebabs with delicious fresh tomatoes. A dog came up and licked up the mess for us.

Leftover from doner kebabs with delicious fresh tomatoes. A dog came by and licked up the mess for us.

We finished our 6th and 7th kebab (within 36 hours) in George Orwell plaza. We sat and looked at two old shirtless men standing on their balconies with their stomachs hanging out.  It seemed like New York in many ways; dense, gritty, endless, diverse,  filled with people whose crazy past lives you cannot begin to imagine, but without New York’s ambitious upward drive. As we sat there, someone’s black dog came sniffing by and eagerly lapped up the grease from our kebabs and then trotted along on its way.

Europe is full of small balconies like these. It's less structurally demanding, more practical, and inhabitable than our standard balconies in America.

Europe is full of small balconies like these. It's less structurally demanding, more practical, and inhabitable than our standard balconies in America.

We skipped Gaudi and went to see Mies van der Rohe's famed Barcelona Pavilion which was surprisingly worth the all the talk. Afterwards, we saw Joan Miro Foundacion by Sert but were too hungry to venture further than the gift shop.

We skipped Gaudi and went to see Mies van der Rohe's famed Barcelona Pavilion which was surprisingly worth the all the talk. Afterwards, we saw Joan Miro Foundacion by Sert but were too hungry to venture further than the gift shop.

It's easy to forget that Barcelona has a beach. It's nice, but bring your own beer. Estrella costs 2 euros on the beach.

It's easy to forget that Barcelona has a beach. It's nice, but bring your own beer. Estrella costs 2 euros on the beach.

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