My posts on Europe sound like we put on a kilo a day in weight due to the foodâ€¦ Actually, we didnâ€™t do too badly. It must have been all that walking and lifting those bloody maletas up narrow staircases and through airports and train stations that helped on the calorie consumption side. Although we vowed that this would mostly be a food, eating, touring trip and NOT a shopping trip, I have to admit there were serious distractions in Barcelona, shopping wise. So here is one post on some of the great stuff we couldnâ€™t resistâ€¦ First up, Marketman acquired an incredibly supple Panama hat. So few people wear nice hats these days, which is really a shame as I find them so civilized, so useful and so good-looking. Most folks are more likely to sport baseball caps (I have several) or worse, those knitted hoods on their head that I can only imagine makes their hair stink! We walked past Obach, this great Sombrereria (hat shop) several times, and I finally entered it and tried on several hats. I settled on this Monte Christi Panama manufactured in Italy (not Panamaâ€¦). Ever wonder why all those leading men in the old movies removed their hats and their hair still looked impeccable? It’s because their hair had so much pomade, it would have stayed in place no matter what they put on their heads…
We also figured we had to visit La Manual Alpargatera, the vaunted shoe store which specializes in alpargatas or espadrilles and reportedly counts the previous Pope, Michael Douglas and other celebrities amongst their clientele. This store was a few meters from the hat store and both were a five minute walk from our apartment. At the store, this incredibly nice older lady helped us out and we tried on lots of pairs of shoes. At Euro 7 or PHP 400 or so for a pair of canvas espadrilles, I was in shock at how reasonably priced they were. I got several pairs in some pretty wild colors. My daughter went into frenzied mode and she got a few pairs as well. Ditto for the wife. I have always liked espadrilles and used to have several pairs when I was much younger. Apparently, espadrilles are especially good for walking on cobblestone streets as they absorb so much of the strain that uneven pavements seem to cause. Just donâ€™t ever get them wet as they are difficult to dry and get rather pungent smelling. Oh, and a few sentences for those who have been shopping at ZARA lately. We figured out that the prices of clothing at ZARA in Barcelona were about 30-40% less than Manila, including VAT savings. So much for global pricingâ€¦ Letâ€™s just say at Euro 4.50 for a childâ€™s t-shirt or roughly PHP300, thatâ€™s even cheaper than the supposed â€œoverrunsâ€ you find at Manila bazaars. My daughter thought this was the best thing ever and the shops were MASSIVE compared to the ones in Asia. They were stocked to the gills and filled with shoppers day after day…on a good Friday in one of their bigger Barcelona shops, they probably sold more than the ZARA at Rockwell Mall sells in a month! Obviously, we ended up with a healthy supply of cheap t-shirtsâ€¦
At a basket store also in our neighborhood, I was thrilled to find several market baskets for my market forays. They claim these were made in Southern Spain though I suspect they came from across the waters in Morocco or other parts of Africa. My older market baskets that I purchased in Paris several years ago (and which were the inspiration for the Market Manila logo) are starting to get worn and grotty and their straps are giving way so I definitely needed new ones. At about euro 10 per basket, these were pricier than I remember but still a good deal. We got a couple of baskets and at this point realized we had better find the local balikbayan box outlet so we could send this stuff straight home. Turns out the LBC office was about 400 meters from our apartment and a large box home was Euro 65 and it would take 45 days, door to door, so all was looking well indeed. The problem was, we didnâ€™t have nearly enough stuff to put in the box to fill it upâ€¦
With just a day left and half a balikbayan box to fill, Marketman and family went into massive food acquisition modeâ€¦ several kilos of Bomba rice for paella was acquired, local noodles, olive oils from the grocery (not enough time to find the artisanal kind), anchovies, tunas, Asturian beans, saffron, dates, pimientos, etc. were all added to the goods that would be shipped home. We also jettisoned all of our winter type jackets hoping that the weather would warm up as the trip continued. We filled up our box, taped it up and sent it on its way…hopefully it will be here in a few weeks time!