A much more bike friendly city than Madrid—there are lots of bike lanes and the bike share system seems to be used by everyone. I dropped off laundry and then set off in the morning after our all-night bus ride, for El Corte Ingles (the English Cut), a big department store, as I needed shoe laces (one had broken) and shoe stores rarely carry laces. I got a few pairs, to cover possible future needs.
I always thought it odd that the name of a big department store here in Spain seems to imply that English clothes are extremely well cut (English bespoke outfits indeed seem to be well- tailored—I wouldn’t know from firsthand experience) and something to be emulated. It also seems to be presumed that this exquisite quality will spill over into other items the store sells that have nothing at all to do with tailoring. And why English tailoring and not Italian?
Jon Natchez, who plays Bari sax and bass clarinet in our band, had heard about a tapas bar relatively near us called Quimet & Quimet (it’s run by a couple) that mainly serves canned food. I know. This sounds horrible, a joke in the age of fresh and local, but in this case it’s not—it’s some of the most innovative food I’ve ever had. The range of canned and preserved food in Spain is extraordinary—so that helps—and the creative combinations this couple come up with and improvise are like nothing else any of us have ever tasted.
Tuna belly with sea urchin, topped with olive oil; I had air-dried tuna (it looks a bit like jamon or dried beef) with cheese; someone had smoked salmon with yogurt and truffled honey drizzled over it!
The place is tiny—there are no seats at all— but we got there before the afternoon lunch rush, so we were lucky. Maybe because there’s no cooking, gas, electric stove or proper kitchen, the bill at the end was super reasonable—we each owed about €15 and left fully satisfied.
A few of us then rode north along the beach and then looped back inland, past Sagrada Familia. That was my version of a quick bike tour introduction to Barcelona for those on the ride who had never been here before.