Stoppa da tapas!

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I hate this – I have had a fabulous time here in Spain – Palafrugell was beautiful, our hosts were great, I am over my stomach illness. When we got to Barcelona, however, internet access became scarce and expensive (and even risky, according to a sign up at the internet cafe near the Subway fastfood…). So, I have not written anything since my last short entry.

What happens is – while I am having a great time, I often don’t have time to capture that. Barcelona has been fabulous – the weather is warmer and sunnier here than it is in Georgia. We have walked up and down the Rambla, seen the port and Columbus pillar, toured the Templo de la Sagrada Familia.

Last night, we went up to the Parc Guell, one of my favorite places. It is exactly as I remember it from 23 years ago, except I forgot that it was up a steep hill (thank God for the escalators they have installed for most of the way). I also forgot that you have to wander through this maze of garden paths to get to the lovely mosaics and sculptures. I had Wheat take close up pictures of many of the mosaics – I saw some postcards like that and they looked awesome.

The only thing I did not appreciate was my tapas experience. After doing some research on the internet about the best places for tapas in Barcelona, I came across two places: El Xampanyet (near the port) and Txapela (near Passeig del Gracia). I then looked at our DK Eyewitness travel guide that said the cava was cheap and the prices were great. I was happy to find it, but of course, the place was packed.

Determined to have our tapas experience, we pushed our way to the back of the bar and were thrilled to find a tiny ledge in a corner against the old wooden refrigerator. Our waiter was busy, but seemed a decent guy. He immediately took the things we had stashed on the second ledge below our ledge. He assured us that he would put them somewhere safe, and asked what we wanted. Well, we asked him to suggest something. He replied that he would bring us a little sampling of items.

So, he arrived pretty quickly with two cream-cheese stuffed cherry peppers, a plate of anchovies, a huge plate of sliced hard sausage, some ham, some tuna in olive oil, and olives, I think. This was accompanied by a plate of pan con tomate (sliced baguette with tomato innards rubbed on them – there must be one person whose job in back is to smear tomato on bread – my husband has dubbed him the “tomatador”).

This was all very well and good – and we received refills of the tomato bread when we asked for it. He then asked if we wanted cheese – sure, why not? But we finally had enough – it was very claustophobic and no one would move from their tables. We asked for the bill, declining the “cookies” offered. That took about 20 minutes to pin down. As we waited, we wondered how much two glasses of cava, two bottled waters and the above assortment would cost us. The euro is about one and 1/2 the worth of the dollar, so we wondered aloud: 15 euros? 20 euros?

The waiter returned to us with a hand-tallied bill on a small pad of paper. THIRTY FIVE EUROS!!!! That’s like, $50!!!! That was a $50 snack – because, in theory, people go from place to place eating these tidbits. We were too much in shock to argue. We did not tip, however.

That is how much it cost for a three course meal with drinks at San Miguelito, a really nice restaurant in Morelia, Mexico. That was unbelievable!!!

We went out again last night to eat seafood paella at La Barceloneta, by the port. Instantly wary, we plotted our game plan. One order of paella to SHARE, a salad to share, and sangria – water for my husband. Our bill was about $80 – we didn’t catch the “we charge for bread” scam there…

Let’s just face it – poor Americans have no business going to Europe right now. We were very fortunate when we were in Palafrugell – we had a free place to stay, and Wheat’s boss generously paid for even my dinner – he cooked half of them himself. I loved it there… And, don’t get me wrong, I love Spain – it’s just too expensive right now.

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