I slept in a bit after getting in late from Andorra the night before, but still got less than my usual amount of sleep. I had read that there was an antique market down by the port each Saturday and I wanted to check it out before all the good stuff was gone. I hopped the metro to get down there and immediately got stuck checking out all the cool old buildings. One of them really caught my eye and as I walked up to it I saw that it used to be a post office, wait….it still is a post office! I needed some stamps to mail postcards back home, so I stepped inside.
It was a grand old structure from either the late 19th or early 20th Centuries. Great paintings were on the ceilings. It was big enough to be the main hall of a train station. They don’t build them like that anymore. It makes your local post office look like a dump.
I love to send postcards. Friends and family seem to enjoy getting them.I send them to myself too. I week or two after my trip they arrive and give me a great reminder of what awesome stuff I just did.
After the stop at Correos, I headed in the direction of the Antique Market. While walking along looking at the old buildings, I found a small park with a fountain in it. I ducked in to see what it was all about (I almost always look to see who the monuments are erected to, if they put up a statue, the least I could do is read the inscription), but heard some birds in the trees that sounded unusual.
I looked up to see what appeared to be small parrots nesting in a palm tree. The Internet told me that they were monk parakeets. They are not native to Spain, but have established themselves in the area over the past forty years. It was a pleasant surprise.
No more distractions! To the Port Antic Market! I found it where it was supposed to be near the port right by the Columbus monument at the end of La Rambla. There was a nice mix at about 10 stalls that were set up. As is always the case, some of it was overpriced, but I did find some cool advertising / trading cards that were one euro each. I grabbed a nice mix. They reminded me of cigarette cards from the UK but bigger and from Barcelona chocolate brands. My guess is they used to come in candy bars. They were all very cool, but some had chocolate stains on them. The original owners can’t be blamed. They appeared date from WWI or a few years after.
I decided to try and head back up La Rambla towards the Jamón Experience and see if it was open for a tour. I was in luck. I was told for an extra 10 € you got to a tasting at the end that included a glass of red or white wine or cava (dry sparkling wine). That was a no brainer. The tour was interesting but was mostly the process of how they make pigs into jamón with a little jamón-is-good-for-you propaganda. It may not be as full of antioxidants as they claim, but it is good for your soul.
The Jamón Experience also has a museum devoted to Spanish wine where you can taste and purchase many varieties. Before going to Spain, all I knew of were cava and Rioja. I got schooled by the helpful bartender and was able to bring back a great bottle of Rioja at an insane price along with a bottle produced in a very small region in Catalonia. Iberian ham and wine after an antique market is just about the perfect day, but I still had one last thing to try and get done this Saturday.
Since I was close enough I decided to stroll back to the Xmas market I went to the other day to see if it would be less crowded. I was in luck again, despite the narrow lanes of the Gothic Quarter being much more crowded on a Saturday evening; people seemed to have more places to go to than the Xmas market. I was able to look a little bit better and chat with some merchants. I also bought a few things as gifts for some people back home. Since some of then read this blog, I won’t go into too much detail on post any pictures yet. I’ll hopefully get more into that after Christmas.
I took the subway back to the hotel with a quick stop at the corner grocery store to get some snacks for the night. I also purchased and consumed, after a few days of internal debate, a bottle of wine there that cost 0.99 €. Yes, that’s right, a 750ml bottle of wine for less than one euro. I’m not proud I did it, but I feel less shame having done so than I would have felt had I passed on the chance. How was it? I’ve spent one euro on worse things!