homage to catalonia

BCN 1st morningMore Barcelona. My hotel was on the Ronda Sant Antoni, an excellent location, and on the first morning I got up early and had an incredible pastry. The morning food in Barcelona, the pastries I like to start my day with, are unbelievable. I got a delicious looking pastry which looked like it may have some sort of nutella filling. It did; it had about four jars of nutella stuffed inside. It was incredibly chocolatey. I was bouncing around all morning. Chocolate in fact began its European adventure here in Barcelona, and we’ve been bouncing around ever since. Good thing too!

I sat down in the street to start my sketching adventure, and sketched this official looking building. You could tell it was official, because it had the Spanish flag outside. That isn’t a flag you see much of in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia. I wasn’t massively surprised, given the very independent nature and the long and proud history of the Catalan people, but it many ways it hardly felt as though I were in ‘Spain’ at all. I have read about the long, proud and often troubled history, and local calls for secession have been growing in recent times. The Catalan flag (or ‘Senyera‘), from the classic straight yellow and red bars to the variants used by the nationalists (with the blue triangle and white star added; see the sketch below, from up in the Lesseps area) or the socialists (with the red star), flew from windows and balconies all over the city. Even the doughnuts were decorated with yellow and red stripes (though some were decorated as Cookie Monster too, so I wouldn’t read too much into it). The Barcelona FC blaugrana shirt was everywhere, all over the shops, market stalls, bars, cafes, but NEVER the Spanish national shirt. Now that did surprise me; Spain are the World and double-European football champions but the only time I saw a Spain shirt was on some Chinese tourists. Very interesting. The Catalan language was highly prominent everywhere (as it should be, since it is the region’s first and main language), with Spanish often down below alongside English. I speak neither Spanish nor Catalan, something I really need to remedy.

Further up the street was an amazing toy store which sold mainly two things – racecars and Playmobil. My son would have loved it. Around the entire shop was constructed a huge Scalextric racetrack of several lanes and many chicanes, with cars and Scalextric of all sorts of varieties everywhere. the other wall was devoted to Playmobil, which as you may recall I love. It’s much cheaper here too; if I could have, I’d have gone mad. In the end I just bought a few figures, two of them being little football players. One of them being a Spain footballer. I felt oddly guilty. Perhaps I should paint the Barcelona stripes onto it.

Lesseps, Barcelona