I am dismayed by the many adverse changes that occur as we age, and also aware that virtually all of them were predicted (accurately) by people we knew who reached seniority before us. Nothing unusual, to be expected, and not worth writing about, since we all know, or should know, what to expect.
But what has surprised me lately is my distinct lack of interest in fiction — both writing and reading it. I used to read a couple of novels a month, or more; now maybe one a year, or less. I start novels that look like something I should want to read, but simply cannot generate enough interest to keep going very far.
I continue the life-long habit of reading books (I am unable to read electronic books), but fiction rarely appears. Instead, I read biographies, memoirs, history, and essays. Lately I’ve been reading the history of Rome, for obvious reasons.
I also used to enjoy writing for this blog, and in the early years wrote something in it regularly. Now I see that the last entry was some eight months ago. I have also noticed that more often than not, rather than “literary,” it contains mostly travel writing.
So here’s another of those … I should add that almost all these photos were taken by my wife, who by far has the more superior photographic eye.
We love European markets, and Barcelona has some of Europe’s finest examples. The following photos are from the Santa Catarina Market.
Girls in a window.
La Rambla on a Friday afternoon.
Barcelona windows and balconies.
These photos (above) are not rare examples, they are common architectural elements seen all over the city. Also, Barcelona is exceptionally clean. After living in Rome, which is exceptionally dirty and inundated with some of the world’s ugliest examples of graffiti, Barcelona looks like a crew of menehunes (Hawaiian leprechauns) washed and shined the city in the dark of night. It is strikingly obvious that the Catalans are proud of their city.
Naturally we ate. Catalunya is world-famous for its cuisine, which includes a wide variety of fresh goodies from the sea. Like Spaniards in general, they eat dinner at an obscenely late hour, but for those of us who are usually asleep at their dinner hour, god invented tapas. Except for breakfast, we ate nothing but tapas during our five day visit. The best were here — Lolita Taperia, originally called Inopia.
A note about this tapas bar. It is owned by the brother of the chef who owned El Buli, north of Barcelona, which was for many years rated as the best restaurant in the world. A few years ago, Mario Batali had a series on PBS called, On The Road In Spain. During the Barcelona episode, Batali and his group (including Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Stipe from REM) spent an evening eating tapas here, sitting around the table under the Moritz sign. Paltrow seemed to have an orgasm every time she put something in her mouth. On their way out, Batali turned to the others and said, “The best tapas I’ve had in Spain.” He should know, and Holly and I do not disagree.
The drinks bar. Notice the cartoons on the TV.
We arrived about a quarter after one, for lunch, and there was only one other couple there. It is not large, the table beneath the Moritz sign in the only one. There are two barrels for tables (the couple in the middle with the waiter are at one), the rest are stools at the curving bar. By two pm, it was mostly full, and by the time we left, there was a line of people outside waiting to get in.
The curving bar looks into the kitchen. Our grilled lamb skewer is on the grill.
Barcelona’s arch d’triomphe.
A few photos from Barcelona’s Palace of Music, where we attended a concert featuring a quartet of, as advertised, Europe’s best classical guitarists.
We also had paella on the beach. Not as good as the tapas, but fine enough. This was a Sunday, the sun was bright, no clouds, warming up, and the beach was rocking.
I bought a hat.
Holly toured this Gaudi house.
The roses are not usually there. This was a major holiday in Barcelona — St. Jordi Day (St. George), and traditionally everyone carries a rose. I forgot the reason. These roses were gone a couple of days later.
On a closing note, due to bad weather, our approach into Fiumicino airport was from a direction we had never used before, and we flew directly over Ostia Antica, a rare view of it from the air.
Hope you enjoyed another tidbit from the Don and Holly Vagabond Show.