A walk through Barcelona is like a waltz with art and the most eye-catching architecture. You’ll get lost in the city’s arms as it whisks you around, steering your head away from the road. In the first few days of our arrival, we visited Fit Bar near the port. But as we walked there, we derailed, taking longer than we should have to let our eyes wander because the architecture and artwork in this city are hard to dismiss. Though some buildings engaged us, below are a couple of the attention-grabbers.
Palau de la Música
We only learned about Palau de la Música this time around through our host, Alfred. This music hall where we plan on attending a Spanish guitar concert, later on, is magnificent inside. The outside is just as impressive.
In front of the music hall is the sculpture Carmela, created by Jaume Plensa. His work is distinct, and you may recognize some of his other popular sculptures in Chicago, Nice, Houston, Sweden, Singapore, and others in Spain. Carmela is particularly interesting because the face is actually flat.
Fit Bar and the People
“Dónde está el baño?” Nick asked when we entered Fit Bar, a tiny place with only a bar and few stools to sit on. Two girls stood at the counter eating ice cream giggled because they probably sensed the urgency.
“You have to come to the back,” said the guy behind the counter wearing a baseball cap backward. He seemed unphased by our request, and we were grateful because as two very hydrated people, it is also hard to find bathrooms while sightseeing in Europe. You can’t just pop in to use the bathroom anywhere you desire like in the States.
“I understand,” the guy said with a little chuckle.
The kind guy who worked there told us he’s from Brazil and later introduced himself when he knew we’d be visiting again. I didn’t have to look at Nick to know he was as surprised by his name. “Wagner,” I said, repeating it as if it wasn’t really his name. In my mind, I was expecting his name to be something like Carlos or Hugo!
At some point, an old man entered the Fit Bar and ordered a smoothie. This man wore a small scarf around his neck. When I learned he was French, I thought it made sense. And when he spoke, I suspected him a smoker.
“I’m French Catalan,” he said in a raspy little voice. His scarf sucked inwards as he spoke. Then the blender roared to life as Wagner blended our acais. The old man rolled his eyes and sighed, waiting for the motor to stop running. I’m glad he waited because my ears strained to hear him. The funny thing is, with my soft voice, he struggled to hear me too. This was the first time I spoke so closely to a stranger.
Sipping his orange-mango smoothie, he said, “You can’t hear me because my vocal cord was cut out.”
We gave him blank stares because we both didn’t know what to say to that. Yes, we were curious. But we weren’t blunt enough to ask. He broke the awkward silence with a little shake of his head. “That is life. Things happen. You move on.”
On cue, our conversation moved on. We learned the man, a former journalist, comes to Barcelona every winter and leaves in the summer to go back to his French Catalan coast town. And before he left, he taught us how to say, “If God wills it, see you later” in both French and Spanish.
Afterward, we spoke with Wagner for a while before a woman with orange wavy hair came in and gave us all a dirty look. She held her head high like she owned the place. In the middle of asking Wagner a question, the lady’s sharp words sliced through our conversation. Before we knew it, she took control of the situation and interrogated Nick and me, tapping her fingers on the counter while Wagner scooped her ice cream.
“Where’re you from?”
“Ah, Seattle,” Nick said.
“My boyfriend is from Palm Springs,” she said in a show-off kind of way.
“You. Where’re you from?” She looked me up and down.
“Seattle,” I said.
Her brows furrowed. “Where’re your parents from?”
I thought to myself, why didn’t you just ask me what ethnicity I am? Because that’s the real answer, you’re looking for.
“From Laos,” I said. She raised her eyebrows this time and gave a quick nod, and that was the end of our conversation as she turned to Wagner and raised her voice.
When she left, Wagner told us in his Brazilian accent, “I don’t know what was wrong with her. She was just bossing me around…like telling me to hurry up. Hurry up, she kept telling me. ‘Hurry up. Scoop my ice cream!'”
“I was going as fast as I could.”
Nick chuckled. “I thought she was just being like that with us. I didn’t realize she was being like that with you too.”
“Noooo…” Wagner said, wide eyes. His amused face told me he didn’t take it personally.
We all laughed. Wagner is a gentle-looking fellow who kind of resembles Yogi Bear. He is kind to everyone and is just the type of guy that listens to his mother, who gets bossed around easily, especially by a high-maintenance woman.
Tapioca is no stranger to me. My mom uses it in desserts, but I never had it morphed into a wrap before. We learned Brazilians like to do this with tapioca. All you have to do is pour the tapioca onto a pan and heat it up dry. This enables the little white beads to stick together, creating a Styrofoam-like wrap. The wrap was both interesting and yummy, and we look forward to having it again.
The Fit Bar is a cool little vegetarian/vegan joint run by two Brazilian guys. We did not meet the owner that day, but we sure enjoyed talking with Wagner. Their small bar is a health-promoting one with smoothies, shakes, acais, vegan ice cream, yogurt, and tapioca-wrap options. I forgot to take a picture of the mango acai bowls we enjoyed, but if you’ve been following me and know what they are, you’ll know it pretty much all looks the same. The taste is what sets them apart.
As we left, we caught this beautiful sunset before heading into City Center. If you’re in Barcelona, visit Fit Bar for the best acai bowls in the city, as well as some Brazilian-style wraps made from tapioca. Perhaps you’ll meet some interesting characters as well!