Day 15: Seeking Sanctuary in El Corte Inglés

by Eli Hodapp

The weather in Barcelona has been really lackluster this week. It’s either been really cold, really rainy, or my personal favorite, really cold and rainy. This normally wouldn’t be much of an issue, but when I was packing all my clothes and things back in the USA, taking out my rain gear and some sweaters was necessary to stay under the 50lb luggage limit. The shoes I brought basically couldn’t be worse for walking around in the rain as well. I’ve got my dress shoes which I don’t really want to get wet and my Reebok running shoes which have this mesh upper that doesn’t even bother trying to keep any water out. So, this necessitated a trip to Portal de l’Àngel shopping area.

Oh, but first, our downstairs neighbor Morton and I have become lunch buddies. Yesterday we went out to this amazing crepe place called Crêperie Bretonne Anaick. In Barcelona, the big meal of the day is lunch, so this was a multi-course affair with tons of food for €10,90. The first course was this really great salad with all sorts of fruit on it, that was followed by a massive crepe with cheese, mushrooms, and bacon, and finally a dessert crepe that was drowning in chocolate.

The coolest part about the restaurant was how it was decorated. They somehow got a full size double decker bus inside of the building, which was just parked in the dining area and served as the kitchen. All the windows were removed, so you could see in and watch your crepes being made. Also, amusingly enough, where the bus driver would be on this double decker bus is where the cash register is and where the hostess stands. Clever. The rest of the furniture was all outdoor style tables and chairs, which created this really slick feel of just being outside and eating on the street but actually being indoors.

Work was fairly uneventful, and around 10:00 PM I decided I should probably go out and get something for dinner, so I headed down to this pizza place I discovered in Barceloneta a few days before. One of the best things about New York City was the ultra-thin brick oven pizza, and this place serves a very similar pie. Decently cheap, very fast, and staffed by super friendly people. I’ll definitely be back.

I finished the day sharing yet another bottle of Rioja with Samaneh, and fell asleep watching the last episode of Portlandia. I’m debating buying the second season on iTunes. Hmm.

So anyway, today was very cold and very rainy. I’ve had it with only having my Abercrombie hoodie as my single non-coat cold weather item, so I headed out to El Corte Inglés. I did a little looking around online, and it seemed like this store was going to be the Spanish equivalent of a Kohl’s, but with higher-end brands. It was too rainy to walk, so I took the subway to get there and was greeted by the most overwhelming shopping experience imaginable.

El Corte Inglés is what you would get if you took an American shopping mall, reduced the size of all the stores to about ten feet by 5 feet, and removed all the walls. Everything is segregated by specific brands, so while in most American stores you’d simply walk to the sweater section and pick out what you like, here you need to decide if you want a Tommy Hilfiger sweater, a Lacoste sweater, or a million other brands. Then when you find the Lacoste section, they’ve got shoes, polos, jackets, sweaters, and everything Lacoste. Then the next brand setup right next to it will have similar things, and so on. It’s crazy.

What’s crazier yet, is that this building is nine stories tall, absolutely filled with everything you’d ever want organized in a way that couldn’t possibly make less sense. After spending nearly an hour there inside and out of the rain (which was pleasant enough) I decided the whole thing was just too crazy and headed to H&M to do my shopping. They were having a huge sale, and I managed to get a couple thick wool sweaters for €10,00 a piece. Not too shabby.

Wednesdays always seem to be the busiest days on TouchArcade, so as soon as I got back home the rest of my day got totally absorbed by work. We recorded a podcast, and dealing with the onslaught of new game releases always takes way more time than I expect it to.

I was totally freezing by about 11:00 PM, as the night got colder and colder. The concept of central heat basically doesn’t exist in Barcelona, so you heat with these butane space heaters. Usually they keep you nice and toasty, that is, until you run out of butane. Tomorrow I’m going to be on high alert for when the butane tank guys come around.

I suggested to Samaneh we make whatever they call hot spiced wine in Barcelona, and it wasn’t long before I was down at the corner store picking up a cheap bottle of wine and she was prepping her top secret spice mixture to make it all happen. I really need to learn how to make this stuff, as it’s among my favorite things from Europe.

I hope the weather improves soon, as my next stop is going to be the Barcelona baby hole. Yes, such a thing exists, and I can’t wait to check it out.