Woke up pretty early, can’t wait to explore and re-discover Barcelona. Seeing Eli last night and spending time chatting with her felt amazing. I’ve finally got people, familiar people, that I can hang out with and talk to.

Yesterday, Florian suggested that we meet up today and go to Sitges. He sent me a WhatsApp message at about 12:00pm to arrange where we should meet. I had gone for a walk to La Rambla. It’s changed a lot since I was last here. Gone are all of the quaint stalls which sold plants (OK a few of the flower stalls are still here), pets and birds (yeah, they really had to go), books and, all sorts of art. All replaced by fake tapas gazebos run by Pakistanis. I was having a coffee (I refuse to eat at these shoddy imitations) at one of these places, when Florian called. I was at the bottom end of La Rambla, near the harbour. We met at the roundabout at the Columbus Monument.

One thing that I forgot to mention. I walked to La Rambla through the back streets near Gran Via and ended up at Placa de Catalunya. In terms of pigeons, Trafalgar Square ain’t got nothin’ on this place! Anyway, just as I got to La Rambla itself, I could hear loud drumming. There was a procession going on! Adults and children, most of them dressed in weird and wonderful costumes. All interspersed with groups of drummers. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people. I asked one of the “marchers” what the procession was about.

“It’s for Barcelona. The local schools join in and we celebrate Barcelona.”

How refreshing. After all of the demonstrations and protests in France, how awesomely refreshing.

And no police to speak of. The only police I saw were at the very back of the procession. They were traffic cops, three of them on mopeds, following the clean-up crews who were sweeping the street. Not that the procession left any rubbish in its wake. It looked to me like it was the tourists who were messing the place up.

It took about an hour to drive to Sitges, which was cool because it gave me a chance to get to know Marga, Florian’s wife.

Sitges is a beautiful little town. Built on a small hill by the beach, it’s all winding little roads and cute buildings. At the top of the hill is Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu y Santa Tecla. Down one of the little winding streets, we went to a restaurant that Florian and Marga go to regularly. Lizarran is basically a small tapas bar in the Basque tradition. All along the bar are plates of various dishes, each delicious offering being stuck through with a cocktail stick. When you’ve finished eating, your cocktail sticks are counted and that’s how your bill is calculated. This type of bar/restaurant is called a “restaurante de pinchos” and can usually be identified by the word “Euskadi” (i.e. Basque) displayed somewhere on their signage or menus etc. My Greek family have often called me a “mezegi” i.e. someone who likes mezedes. This was right up there with the best of them.

We continued our walk through Sitges to a very trendy beach bar and restaurant called El Vivero. We had great conversations and got slowly sloshed. Me on Jack Daniels and coke, Florian and Marga on gin and tonics.

From there, it was to a tiny little bar in the marina. Florian and Marga had been invited to a birthday party, it would have been rude not to go. Yet more JD&cokes were imbibed by yours truly.

As the night wore on, the party was getting more and more rowdy (we’d already had a run-in with a drunk English idiot when we arrived) and Isa, Marga’s closest friend, was having problems with her boyfriend. He’s in his early 70’s, she’s in her early 50’s. So, we decided to leave. We went to a restaurant in Castelldefels (where Florian used to live and where I stayed more than 15 years ago) called Olave. Yet again, the food was amazing.

We finished off the night by going back to Florian and Marga’s flat in Gava Mar. It’s a gorgeous place with a massive balcony which looks out onto the beach. Yet more drinks were consumed and a cheeky joint. Seems I’m not too old for weed after all. Isa crashed on the sofa and I got the guest bedroom. Not particularly gentlemanly, I know. But, she was too far gone to move.

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