Satisfied with our tapas, we headed across the street to check out Mercado de La Boqueria. Being directly on the Las Ramblas, it was mostly (disappointingly) touristy, but it we still enjoyed wandering through and admiring all the fascinating seafood and cuts of meat, vibrant fruits and vegetables, and delightful baked and cured goods. I felt like a kid in a candy shop; everything was so colorful and beautifully displayed and I wanted to buy one of everything. We ended up purchasing a few cherries and half of a red dragonfruit to share. It was fun trying to communicate with the vendors and calculate how much many grams we wanted or how much everything would cost. I had a brain deficit (I blame it on jetlag) and idiotically pondered how to communicate that I wanted 1/4 or .2 kgs of cherries (everything was listed as €/kg). I panicked, as I’d never learned how to communicate mathematical terms in my Spanish classes. You can imagine the humiliation and awe that came over me when I realized the beauty of the metric system; doscientos gramos is much simpler to communicate than 1/4 or 1/3 of a kilogram (or even a pound). By the end of our trip, I had fallen in love with the metric system. Why does the USA not utilize this simple but efficient system?
One fun moment at La Boqueria was when another tourist (German, I think) asked me if I knew what fruit was in her smoothie. Combining the little Spanish I knew with the body language of the vendor, we were able to figure out that it was made of blueberries (nabiu or arándano). On a side note, because Barcelona has the dual Castilian (Spanish) and Catalonian culture/language, there is an added level of difficulty in communication as many of the older locals speak mostly Catalan and just a little Spanish (though the younger generation seemed to be at least trilingual). I also found it interesting that Catalan is listed and utilized before Castilian (what we know as Spanish), and there are signs all around Barcelona that proudly remind us that “this is not España, this is Catalunya!” Much like in Quebec and Scotland, there have been talks of secession.
After purchasing the fruit, we headed off to see the nearby Roman Necropolis in the Plaça Vila de Madrid. I was stunned at just how saturated Barcelona was with history and culture. Everywhere we turned, we saw incredible old and beautiful or new and colorful sites; the entire city is a jaw-dropping work of art, a lovely mosaic. We found a seat in the grassy plaza and sat in awe, absorbing the view of the 2000 year old road and cemetery that had, until recently, been buried under about 10 feet of earth. It was both humbling and inspiring to witness something so old and see a piece of the culture that continues to live today, as the brilliant ideas and language of the successful Roman people still permeate throughout the “Western” world. It definitely made me reflect upon my own life and the legacy I want to leave. With so much to process, we sat quietly in the park, eating our fruit and trying to absorb everything we had seen and experienced.