With just one full day in Barcelona, we had to make it count.
First port of call? St Josep’s mercat de la boqueria with its stunning fresh regional produce that is so achingly well presented it really is a visual feast for the eyes:
Strangely there were a remarkable number of female fishmongers and butchers, which perhaps goes some way in explaining why everything’s so beautifully displayed…
Lunch was an event in itself and we stopped off at a packed restaurant/stall on the edge of the market specialising in seafood. Counter seating ran along three sides of it, with the fresh produce displayed beneath the glass in front of you. The large open plan cooking area was in the centre of the horseshoe shaped bar so you could watch everything being grilled to perfection before it was delivered by the loud, shouty (but fun) waiters. You can’t really go too far wrong with whatever they give you or whatever you manage to order. I’m already longing to go back.
A quick trip to the Joan Miro Foundation was a necessity, not only because I love his art but I love the building that houses it, with its human proportions, (i.e. you could live in it) rough edges and modern lines. A refreshing change from the sometimes faceless, large, imposing gallery space too readily associated with art.
We had dinner at what I can only describe as Barcelona’s answer to Sheekey’s, but possibly better (I never thought I’d utter those words: Sheekey’s is almost sacred to me). Housed in a beautiful old building, we stumbled across Boca accidentally and it was a find. Trad decor, vintage mirrors and sleek cabinets groaning with old and new bottles of wine lined the walls and there was also a wonderful open counter of very fresh fish right by the entrance. Food was fabulous but that’s not the interesting part…
What I loved the most was that there was a DJ in the loo (seriously, the loo) who rocked the house. It sounds a bit odd and unlikely, but let me explain. The washrooms were unisex with a line of doubled-doored old fashioned stalls, each with their own mirror (love that, hate putting make up on in front of random men by a shared mirror) discreetly positioned to one side of the bathroom; the focus instead was on two huge, waist-high blue and white Chinese porcelain pots that they had converted in to basins in the large basement room with its tiled, mismatched mirror lined walls. There was even a velvet topped bench running along one side and the music was pumping (no talking even possible). It was horribly hard to take any good photos as it was so dark and all the angles were wrong. Below are the best shots I could muster (the DJ decks were to the right of the enormous image of the lady on the wall, just to give you a sense of the size of the place).
The restaurant music wasn’t linked up to it, (resto really is super trad) but it set the scene for their 2 very cool bars that they run next door to, and which are both accessible from, the restaurant.
The top bar had a very old school, stylish Moroccan/eclectic vibe to it: think rugs, smart, old fashioned buttoned footstools, the odd Chinese antique as well as old, traditionally framed, tea-stained maps lining the wall, plus the odd topless black and white arty photo for contrast. A much older crowd make there way here, when compared to the main wooden panelled bar below which was buzzing from about 12am-2am and beautifully decked out with huge vintage glass ceiling globes and mis-matched chairs:
By the time it started to empty, the DJ in the loo had come in to her own and was in full flow with various people dancing – in the loo – to her booming choice of trance music. As if that wasn’t odd enough, they were also buying drinks there, from what should probably have been a cloakroom but had been creatively turned in to a small bar selling champagne and beer from a huge antique silver ice-filled urn.
A brilliant, if not surreal, (Miro would have been proud) end to the holiday.