5 on the job in Barcelona
I left you last night with us about to go out and have a meal. We wandered around a bit (intentionally this time) and decided on the restaurant 2 doors down. They do an exceptionally good range of set menus so we headed in. The restaurant was celebrating 30 years and was owned by a married couple. The lady was lovely, the menu wasn’t. We are a bit off the beaten track here and so an alternative menu in English isn’t always forthcoming. No probs. Nik’s Spanish is good enough. The problem is that this menu was mainly in Catalan.
The full arsenal of kindle dictionaries, iPhone apps, gestures, knowing looks and good old memory were used to try and make sense of this menu. Eventually we had recognised enough things on the menu for us all to make a choice. When our lady came back, Nik ordered and explained about our lack of knowledge of Catalan. The lady told Nik that her Spanish was much better than her English. (Well that’s what Nik told us she said anyway). She said that she was just learning English (after 30 years in business, bit late luv, but top marks for giving it a go).
The food was fantastic. I came up trumps (no pun intended) with a bean and sausage casserole as a starter. However when she bought us our main courses she also bought us her English text books to show us and by the time we were on the coffees Nik was marking her homework for her. We left, full, content and happy knowing that if one more Spanish person has learned English, that’s one more Spanish person we don’t have to attempt to speak to in their native tongue. I guessed this was how the Victorians felt as they colonised the world with the Empire.
This morning we started our day with a Bucks Fizz breakfast (the drink, not, the band). I also discovered that mum and dad had bought with them a rather large jar of Tesco jam (that’s at least one kilo of the kitty case accounted for. Luckily, the quantity of it that dad eats it will be gone before we go home). We headed out for an explore. We had planned on doing a Gaudi house, but with the weather being so lovely and rain forecast for the rest of the weekend we opted just to roam around. We did of course stop off at C&A (poor tie selection though. Not a patch on the Munich branch. I wasn’t kidding when I said we bought him a tie everywhere we went!).
Later we had a coffee and toilet break. Now I should mention that Fenner males take their toilet breaks very seriously (alas as we both get older we are also taking them more often). The cafe had a ladies and a gents with a communal wash area. As I went into the gents I noticed the handle just span around, but thought nothing of it. I then discovered (too late) that there was no toilet paper, so improvised with the list of local restaurants that the perky girl had given us yesterday. Well it was either that or the map and I thought it might be a bit difficult explaining to the rest of the family why we only had a map for the east of the city, and it would have been like Izal.
It was only when I tried to leave the cubicle that I released that the door handle was no use at all. It span and span. Now my childhood nightmares were of always being locked in a toilet or having the toilet door opened on me (just as an aside for people who work for the BBC at MediaCity; that’s one reason I don’t use the disabled toilets on the 5th floor in Quay House by the edit suites. That, and the fact that I’m convinced that if you fart too loudly it will reverberate around the atrium). Luckily I recognised the voice in the wash area as my mum’s (her voice can pierce most solid objects; wood, metal, titanium. A poxy toilet door was no contest). I called and she shoved it open.
I returned to the table and prayed that no one asked me to recommend a restaurant. Dad took his turn. The 4 of us chatted about the idea of getting some sandwiches from a lovely little artisan bakery that we had passed. I took a photo of an old cinema, and we chatted a bit more. Then I suddenly realised that dad hadn’t returned from the loo. Ah, better go and check. Yes, he was stuck in the lav. Unlike me though, who panics that I will never be discovered, he just muttered “well I knew you would miss me eventually”. Anyway, at least he got a seat, which seems to be the theme of the day.
When we got down the harbour with our artisan butties (via various jewellery stalls and shops) we looked for a bench to sit on. There was a great one overlooking the harbour with a young French couple and a lady with a pram sat on it. 4 of us could fit on it, but Nik had to sit on the floor. The lady with the pram got up left, so we thought, ah, the French couple will move along so Nik can have a seat. They didn’t. I looked over towards them. They avoided eye contact. I stared a bit harder. They ignored me a bit harder. Eventually I did what any self respecting English person would do. I tutted, said nothing and left my sister sat on the floor. Well, I didn’t want to cause a scene.
The one thing I will say for the Barcelonians is that they have good metro etiquette. The first thing that we do when we get on the metro is get mum sat down (she only had her knee replaced in April). Then we try and get dad sat down. The locals are very good at giving their seats up for, errr, people who are old enough to be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. However this afternoon there was a delicate situation. Dad was sat down and a VERY pregnant lady got on. Does a pregnant woman trump (no pun…oh no it doesn’t work on this occasion) a man in his 80th year? It didn’t matter as dad being dad, got up anyway. A lady sat near him immediately got up and offered him her seat. A bit confused as to what was going on, he stood there. Nik, Karen and myself were stood further down the carriage and so saw what was going on. We all gestured for him to sit down. Which he did. Just in time for us to pull into our station. Still it was the thought that mattered.
Tonight we are off out for an anniversary meal. We are walking, and I’m going to the toilet before we head out. Just a shame I don’t have the address anymore.