06 Jun2006

Barcelona Shopping…

by Marketman


My posts on Europe sound like we put on a kilo a day in weight due to the food… Actually, we didn’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. shopping2Although 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 couldn’t resist… 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 Panama…). 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 shopping3vaunted 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 don’t ever get them wet as they are difficult to dry and get rather pungent smelling. shopping4Oh, 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 pricing… Let’s just say at Euro 4.50 for a child’s t-shirt or roughly PHP300, that’s even cheaper than the supposed “overruns” 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-shirts…

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 shopping5 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 didn’t have nearly enough stuff to put in the box to fill it up…

With just a day left and half a balikbayan box to fill, Marketman and family went into massive food acquisition mode… several kilos of Bomba rice for paella shopping6was 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!



  1. Kid says:

    MM goes crazy!!! =D

    Jun 6, 2006 | 2:17 pm


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  3. millet says:

    kid, i love the orange and lime green and yellow and the striped ones, and the blue ones…. i think Kid went crazy as well…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 4:23 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    millet, boy are you on target. The color of the season was ORANGE in a big way…of course the Kid and I got orange shoes…heeheehee. Now, let’s see if I work up the nerve to wear them in the Philippines…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 4:37 pm

  5. cs says:

    ooooh, funky shoes *drool*

    Jun 6, 2006 | 5:59 pm

  6. Apicio says:

    I have always been shocked to see boys and grown men not wearing any headgear under the sun in the tropics. MM you are a sensible man and I can picture that topped with that jipi-japa, a debonair one too.

    Btw did you know that the crude footwear that Filipino farmers fashion out of cast-off rubber tires are also called paragatas?

    Jun 6, 2006 | 6:32 pm

  7. Katrina says:

    One of my frustrations in Manila is that people don’t wear hats, therefore there are no hat stores. I’m a huge fan of hats; they’re just so much fun! I have dozens of hats, but most were bought elsewhere. What’s particularly annoying is that I don’t have classic hat styles like fedoras or top hats because, even if they’re available abroad, they’re not exactly easy to pack in a suitcase. :-/

    Jun 6, 2006 | 8:55 pm

  8. Zita says:


    Did you try to pop in at any local cigar stores? Nice pix!

    Jun 6, 2006 | 9:11 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Apicio, as usual, I have learned a new “connection” with the paragatas…another “aha!” moment…thanks. Katrina, I only broke down and acquired the hat when it was clear I could send it home in a balikbayan box! I once bought a terrific Panama hat in Paris at the start of Winter (on sale, too good a bargain to pass on) and ended up wearing it home on the plane with a heavy winter coat. I looked like a moron but I got the hat home! Zita, I saw a coouple of cigar stores but didn’t enter…I don’t smoke but if I did, I am sure I would have checked them out!

    Jun 7, 2006 | 7:00 am

  10. ivan the streetwalker says:


    Yes, I see youre very much a hat person. I can still see you walking in front of Malate church with your oversized purple-colored magicians(?) hat!!! ;o) hee hee…


    I so wanted to get myself a Spanish Senor’s hat , you know what they sell in those souvenir shops cos I thought they were so classy (not sure how it comes out if I wear them though!)but again, the problem was transporting them…

    Hmm…I guess marketman will again be sniffing at the balikbayan box’s scent in a few weeks time…!

    Jun 7, 2006 | 8:53 am

  11. ivan the streetwalker says:


    I wonder how our trusty bayong compares with the market baskets that you got in Europe….

    Jun 7, 2006 | 9:06 am

  12. Marketman says:

    I like our bayongs, they are sturdy and cheap. But I find they are less malleable and are best used for heavy wet or icky items…but that’s just me. There are newer shapes and sizes of bayongs such as the wider mouthed ones that are better for marketing the way i like to do it. I like the ones from Europe because they are lightweight, malleable, wide mouthed and have leather straps… The fit well underarm if empty. They get more supple with time. I do use lots of local baskets for other uses, however. Regardless of origin, baskets are far better than all the plastic bags…

    Jun 7, 2006 | 9:23 am

  13. Choy says:

    i’ve been very curious why hat-wearing has become passe in the philippines. i remember my lolo wearing leather or buntal hats back in the early 60’s. there were some that were left in our ancestral house upon his demise and i would have used them but they were too small for me.

    we really should encourage wearing hats again. it’s very sensible in our neck of the woods. go, MM!

    Jun 7, 2006 | 11:59 am

  14. lee says:

    “the crude footwear that Filipino farmers fashion out of cast-off rubber tires” i recall seeing those crude sandals in a sidewalk somewhere alongside the “tadyaw” (fat bellied rubber water containers?) which is also made from truck tires.

    so the spanish paragatas and our farmer’s paragatas really do differ a lot.

    i would love to wear a hat.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 3:23 pm

  15. MGR says:

    Crude footwear ($1 each) becomes…..”Havaianas” of Brazil for $15 apiece!

    Jun 9, 2006 | 7:28 am

  16. Mila says:

    Reading the post brought me back to middle school when several of us, all espradrille fans, were caught in a summer storm, and yes, they are impossible to dry out. The stink, oooh…

    Some marketing genius should come up with the concept that wearing hats keeps one’s face from getting brown, it could be the inexpensive option to skin whiteners.

    Katrina, set up a hat party, it could be your EB theme.

    Jun 13, 2006 | 10:11 am

  17. shane says:

    hi, Marketman…just curious about the location of the Sombreria in Barcelona… I am flying out to Barcelona this March and will be staying at a time share in the Barcelonata area–it would be a great pasalubong for my Dad especailly with our Texas weather. Do you happen to have an address or phone number? thanks much!

    Feb 25, 2007 | 1:21 pm

  18. Marketman says:


    Sombreria Obach
    in the old Jewish district, near or in Barrio Gothic
    Carrer de Call 2
    +34 93 318 40 94
    Nearest Metro Station: Jaume I and Liceu

    There are lots of other nice shops nearby and it is interesting to walk around that area. Expadrilles store is nearby too. Panama hats range from about USD60-150 for the nicest ones. Have a great trip!!!

    Feb 25, 2007 | 2:35 pm

  19. shane says:

    Thank you for this info. I was in BCN many years ago but only for a couple of days. There was not enough time to really go around and enjoy the city. I must admit your posts are the reason why I am going back. I was quite intrigued reading your entries back in June thinking, “Wow, I missed this and that. Perhaps it is time to go back”. Here I am, jet set and ready to go. Even practiced some karate moves just in case of some gypsies with an MO!

    Feb 27, 2007 | 3:10 pm

  20. nicole says:

    Hi marketman,

    My mom is in Barcelona right now and wants to bring home a balikbayan box… Whats the address of the LBC office around there? Is there one in Madrid too? Thanks!!!

    Apr 21, 2007 | 6:39 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    nicole, the LBC office we used was one flight of stairs up from the street. I don’t recall the street name but it was off the Las Ramblas and perpendicular to El corte Ingles, the main one. But I do have a phone number for you, look for Malou Gonzales, +34606707434, I think she manages the office. I have no idea if Madrid has an office. You also may want to check out the web…

    Apr 21, 2007 | 6:48 pm

  22. Mary Lou Cordovez says:

    To whom it may concern,> We have been hat processors and distributors of the finest toquilla> straw hats since 1980 (Montecristi and Azuay). Our offices are located in> Quito Ecuador.> We would like to know if you would be interested in our products and> send you a catalog.> Thank you for your time,> Mary Lou Cordovez> Maqui-Kinchay Cia. Ltda.> Muros N27-193 Y Gonzalez Suarez> telef: 593-2-2503158> miriamgonzalez@ninacuro.com> maryloucordovez@ninacuro.com

    Jan 22, 2008 | 8:26 am

  23. Vicente Andrade says:

    Estoy tratando de localizar a la empresa Maqui Kinchay Cia. Ltda. de la ciudad de Quito (no estoy seguro de la ciudad)

    Podrían ayudarme con una dirección o teléfono ?

    Vicente Andrasde

    Mar 4, 2008 | 1:37 am

  24. Margot subiaga says:

    Where can i buy bomba rice in manila?

    Sep 22, 2008 | 1:46 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Margot, you might try Terry’s Selection on Pasong Tamo Extension or their branch Segundo Piso at the Podium Mall in Mandaluyong…

    Sep 22, 2008 | 1:51 pm

  26. luzvie cunanan says:

    where can i buy espadrille shoes here in manila?

    Jun 11, 2009 | 10:18 pm


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