My host Dalila and I had several excursions that were marvelous and gave me a taste of daily life in this city of 5 million people.
|At Sta. Catarina market, a large area excavated|
and exposed for public viewing.
One night, in search of tapas (you really don't have to search far!!) and some wine, we wandered all over Dalila's "hood". On one side of Mercat Born, there is a wine school, shop, and warehouse. In a very large two-story room with wine cellars below, you can sample 16 different wines from a machine, the likes of which I'd never seen. It takes a prepaid card and deducts each glass of wine that it serves. The bottles are lined up with a hose and fittings in each bottle, the labels clearly displayed. You can select the amount you want and the price varies from 1 to 3 Euros per glass. There were no customers and the young man running the store was bored. Dalila is a striking woman, so the sommelier, smitten with her, gave us free samples, a tour of the store, and pointed out such things as a wine bottle with a round bottom that won't stand up by itself, a mere $155 Euros, and a bottle of WATER, for $250 Euros. It was a beautiful bottle, but still....
Around the corner, Dalila's artist friend has a studio with big glass doors that let in light and the occasional customer. He's quite good with his own impressionistic style. We stopped to visit with him and see his most recent paintings that will be featured shortly in a gallery opening. There were two I would have bought in a heartbeat, one was of the Mercat Born which is a beautiful building. In his painting, it was framed with trees and flowers, not the scaffolding it currently wears.
|Dog, Duck, Man|
Others engage in less than legal activities, selling knock-offs of Louis Vuitton handbags for instance, displayed on a sheet with ropes attached on all four corners for easy "lift off and run" scenarios. I saw five of them posted across a large sidewalk from one another. In addition to selling, they each had a direction they watched, on the lookout for the police. They were not too happy with me taking a photo of them.
In front of the cathedral, on weekends, a large antiques fair is held. People sell religious icons, hardware, books, dishes, and just about anything else you can imagine that's old. It's a popular destination for the locals looking to replace a door hinge in their three hundred year old apartment, or just looking for decorations.
|Religious icons, nothing like covering all the bases!|
Pedicabs and pedivans are a popular way to make ends meet. Several companies hire young men to peddle people around in futuristic versions of the rickshaw. For quick delivery of pizza or supplies, there are pedalvans, a bicycle fitted with a large rolling box behind, looking for all the world like a mini mini-van.
|Christopher Columbus, in the flesh!|