September through November is what we like to call "conference season" with nearly every major scientific discipline holding a meeting of some sort during these months. That meant 3 conferences in 3 countries in 11 days for me, starting in Spain (which in my opinion is never a bad place to start).
The first conference was held in northern Spain and travel was surprisingly difficult to arrange. The closest airport was 90 minutes away by car and only four airlines serve it, none of which have connections to the US. In the end I had to choose a major city to fly into, book a connection on a commuter airline, then take a bus. I chose Barcelona, partly because it had the most logical connection, and partly because in 1995 I had a really great day in Barcelona and I have been in love ever since.
This left me with an 8.5 hour layover in Barcelona. While my first instinct was to find a nice lounge where I could sleep the day away, I decided instead to stow my luggage in an airport locker and go explore a small quadrant of the city. I will admit I also had a secret motive; I do an international sock swap on Ravelry, and in the last round there was a new member from Spain who posted about some really cool yarn she picked up in a shop called "All You Knit is Love" in Barcelona. As long as I was coming that far, I figured I had to stop by, right?
So I hailed a cab and had him drop me near the main cathedral in what is known as the Barri Goti, or Gothic quarter. I was immediately greeted with two of my favorite things about Spain
yes, Gaudi and Picasso. I found myself really noticing a lot of the motifs in the stonework and in the wrought iron in the cathedral and surrounding neighborhood. I keep thinking someday I will translate these into lace or twisted stitchwork.
Can't you just imagine these as lace edgings or motifs in a shawl or sweater? I spent a couple of hours wandering through the cathedral and down La Rambla. Most interesting find: a Boqueria--quite literally a meat market--and yes, people were eating what I can only describe as meat-sicles on sticks made from chorizo, jamon serrano and other cured meats.
|A real meat market, European style|
|Walking down La Rambla|
I finally found the yarn store after several twists and turns (cursed Google maps!) and met Jennifer, the owner of "All You Knit is Love". I had wondered why a LYS in the middle of Spain had such an American name and sure enough it is because Jennifer is an American. Her parents actually live in Cape Cod, only a couple of hours from where I reside, and Jennifer promised she makes it to the states at least once a year and could hook me up if I decided later I needed more yarn. I ogled the big basket of the locally produced "Greta and the Fibers" sock yarn I had come in for, and after promising to limit myself to 2, and deliberating for over an hour on which two, I eventually left the shop with four. I know. I have no impulse control whatsoever when it comes to yarn.
|Jennifer, the owner of "Knit"|
|Wall of Malabrigo and Greta and the Fibers. I spent a long time here...|
After my late lunch, I decided I had better get back to the airport, and my wonderful day in Barcelona was at an end. I claimed my bags and headed off to Santiago de Compostela and some well-deserved sleep, but that is a post for another day.
|Spoils from my day of shopping in Barcelona--a scarf, a Gaudi t-shirt, and four skeins of Greta!|