¡Vale Vale Vale!
-End radio silence-
I’m already running a week behind schedule on this regular update thing, but who is really surprised here?
Anyway. Now that I have transferred the contents of my paunchy suitcases into my closets, it finally feels like there is time to breathe. The last couple of weeks have largely been spent at the altar of nesting (the amount of time I continue to invest in my café con leche dates is not to be discounted. There is always time for café con leche and good reads).
My new digs are in Gràcia, which is a more quaint barrio than the metropolitan Eixample from my first set up. Once upon a time Gràcia was it's own village that eventually became swallowed into the city limits of Barcelona. You can tell by the narrow, cobbled, one way streets. I scored with an attic apartment that gets sunlight streaming in the windows above the other buildings, and a terrace that I can already hear whispering some summer night nonsense in my ears. From there I have a wonderful view of Tibidabo and some prime rooftop peaks at the neighbor's laundry lines.
Since the most exciting adventures I’ve been on as of late have been retail related, I’ve gathered some (likely premature) ‘Dos and Don’ts’.
After a few weeks in the city, I don't know a whole lot. But I do know a whole lot more than I did when I got here
DONT look up all the time. Yes. It is tempting in a city of stunning architecture at every corner (even over KFC) to keep your eyes gazing skyward….but DO glance at the sidewalk or you might find the bottom of you shoe stumbles upon a feature of urban canine evidence. For my sake, I'll say this is from observation over experience. There are tons of adorable pooches wandering the city paired with owners where you can’t tell who resembles who more. Some are leashed, some roam free, most are on the smaller side, but almost all saunter around with sassy attitudes.
Do say Vale (Vale Vale Vale). Vale is ok, good, I understand, I agree, sure, carry on. Say it all the time. Don't say 'Valley'. Say 'Ballet' without pronouncing the first and last letters. The past two weeks have been a flurry of ¡Vale!
DO wear shoes, with socks and hose.
Lesson learned here. In the Bay Area it was largely acceptable to wear ballet flats and call it a day. As I was plodding to work Monday morning, a slow dawning realization hit - I was the *only* woman not wearing boots or lace up shoes of some kind, and without hose. After a day bearing open shoed shame I hustled off to find some more Spanish shoes and stockings to wear. Unfortunately my soft and minimalist shoe spoiled skin suffered. By the end of the day Tuesday I was a pitiful hobbling mess. But I did get me some boots of Spanish leather. And blisters.
DO check the weather forecast before doing laundry. My new flat has a washer, but here you dry your unmentionables from clotheslines off the balcony. This is very charming. Unfortunately, I have always been (ahem) challenged... by timely completion of laundry. Now I am punished by bolting out of bed at 1 am to pull clothes off of my balcony in a cold rain. Wash in the morning. Dry all day. Plan laundry for sunny weekends.
DON’T eat at places with picture menus. One of my new colleagues was kind enough to take me out for a Spritz (capitalized for the new found reverence) and some tapas one day after work. Off the train, she wove us through the afterwork foot traffic and scooters giving plenty of food advice along the way. Most notable of this was to never bother stopping somewhere with pictures of the menu items in the window. Dead giveaway for tourists traps and probably not the best food. I tried to remember where I'd been eating.
We ducked behind the Mercat de Sant Atoni, which I was informed has been perpetually under construction. You can tell by the bones of it that it is a beautiful lively market, when it's open. Behind this a ways we found an small Bodega clattering with the banter of older Catalan men and a counter of tapas. Adriana ordered us two Spritz's. I fell in love with the whole thing.
Wiping his hands on his apron, he pulled out a bag and dropped two large ice cubes in each of our glasses, then proceeded to slide in a long handled spoon, poured a healthy amount of bright orange Aperol over them, and topped it with two vivid green Castelvetrano olives. Once the concoction was delivered, I reached for it and Adriana laughed loudly and told me to cool my jets.
Returning to the table, the man dropped a bottle of Cava and an old canister for carbonated water, leaving us to mix the drinks ourselves. Adriana topped our chromatic beverages. Salud. Our server was a grouchy, slightly argumentative man with a hefty mustache. We talked food and more food and some life. I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
Still, I stirred my vibrant concoction and couldn't help but to think of my first sloe gin fizz (thanks Teresa), and the Brass Rail.
DO drink as much espresso as you can.
And get a Spritz.