I’ve spent all of this week exploring the Gothic Quarter here in Barcelona. It’s a district that I fell in love with when I was last here over fifteen years ago.

Even though La Rambla has changed a little bit, the Gothic Quarter still seems to be as its always been. On Monday, I found an amazing little tapas bar which barely seats twenty people.

Casa Lolea does a variety of speciality sangrias and an awesome selection of food. The atmosphere is chilled and welcoming. Got talking to a young Irish couple who are here for a long weekend. They’re from Dublin and, when I told them about what I’m doing, my project and, my interest in politics they broke the news to me that Sinn Fein has just won the election in Northern Ireland. God knows what that will mean to the UK. To me, it’s just another sign that the political madness is spreading. The political arm of a terrorist group which fought against the Union with the UK and oversaw the maiming and murder of Protestants, both locally and abroad, is now in office. SMFH!

Tuesday, I ended up at the café where I was enjoying a cup of coffee (or was it a beer) some fifteen odd years ago when Charmaine phoned me.

“Hi sweetheart.”

“Dad, where are you? Your flight landed over an hour ago.”

“What do you mean? I’m in Barcelona. My flight is tomorrow.”

“No Dad! You’re joking right? This isn’t funny Dad. WHERE ARE YOU?”

“Sweetheart, I’m not winding you up. I’m in Barcelona at a street café. My flight is tomorrow.”

“OMG! You’re serious!”

“Of course I’m serious.”

“Dad, your flight was today! You’ve missed your flight Dad!”

“Oh shit!!!!”

Also went to an overly trendy tapas restaurant called El Chigre. It was nice but nothing to rave about. A tad too pretentious for my tastes.

Continued to walk through the Gothic Quarter to the Picasso Museum. Outside, I met a fellow photographer who was selling prints of the photos that he had taken in the foothills of the Himalayas. They were printed on rough, unprocessed paper which, along with the washed out colour palette, made them look more like watercolour paintings than photos.

Federico Frangi proudly showed me the little Rollie and Rollieflex badges that adorned his cap. That’s the equipment that he uses.

My journey into the photography of the past continued when I stumbled onto an old school dev&print shop. Lomography Embassy is part shop, part gallery and full-on promoter of analogue photography. Awesome place.

On Wednesday I went to the harbour. Before that however, I went to one of the many cafes and restaurants which are literally on my doorstep, the weirdly named Satan’s. The sign by the bar says it all.

Met Florian at his office at 5:00pm. We went to a couple of bars, starting with his neighbours, Chica Boom. Had way too many beers on an empty stomach. Staggering back home was a feat of determination. How he drove his Harley all the way back to Gava Mar, I’ll never know.

Friday I went to University Square where I photographed some of the skateboarders. As it got dark, I went Tapa Tapa on Passieg de Gracia. Had egg, bacon and chips Catalan style.

Saturday, I again tried to stay in the apartment (I’d done that on Thursday) to work but, by the afternoon I was climbing the walls. It’s an amazing apartment and Florian has got it for me for a ridiculously cheap price. However, the only daylight is at the back of the flat where the view often feels really claustrophobic because all you see are the neighbouring buildings. As does the flat itself. It’s odd how even the largest of spaces can often feel like prisons when you’re on your own. And then there’s the weird noises coming from somewhere in the building. Noises which often continue through the night. There are times when I feel like I’m living next door to something out of an old Hammer House of Horror film. It’s probably a very old person who is being cared for by relatives or whatever but, the grunting and groaning and retching noises that emanate from the ventilation shafts would make anybody with a nervous disposition want to get the fuck out of there.

So, by the afternoon, I’d had enough and got the fuck out of there.

Went to Ternel, yet another neighbouring bar/restaurant. Had a coffee and was just about to order some kind of cake (I was craving sugar) when Eli turned up. She took me to lunch at an “all you can eat buffet” type place. I doubt if I’ll ever be able to find it again because, not only were we chatting the whole way there which meant that I wasn’t fully paying attention to where we were going, it also seemed as though Eli herself wasn’t taking the most direct route. It felt as though she wasn’t completely sure of how to get there. Anyway, it was OK.

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