Last weekend was my birthday and for the first time ever there was actually sunshine on my birthday and it was abnormally warm. As someone with a February birthday I am very used to the weather being abysmal, attractions being closed for the winter/doing maintainance etc. and also around exams but this was year was completely different! On the first weekend of every month the Palo Alto market in Barcelona is open and this just happened to coincide with my birthday!
I didn’t know much about the market before we went except that it involves bringing together a lot of small, independent businesses and entry is 4€ on the door (unless you buy your ticket early on the app then it is 1€ less). The market is a little out of the city centre but that gave us the opportunity to wander around a new part of Barcelona that was so new and built up it made me think it would be a good setting for an apocalypse film – there was hardly any signs of life except market goers it was a bit creepy.
We arrived at 1pm and only had to queue for about 10 minutes before we got to peak inside, on first impression the market looked deceptively small and having been disappointed by ventures similar to this in the past I was prepared for it to be a bit of a flop but there was no need for my skepticism in the end. If Borough Market was just as sunny in February then it might beat Palo Alto but the weather swayed me and I think everyone else because the atmosphere was one of relaxation and contentedness with great food and plenty to drink. Meg and I promptly managed to lose everyone we came with except each other and decided to do a quick lap of the place to scope out what was on offer before deciding on a food truck to buy lunch from. I was easily swayed by Daly’s selection of patatas with eggs on top (I drowned mine in mayonnaise, of course) and Meg got this very tasty patata bird’s nest bowl with veggies and chicken, I took a bit of the bowl because the idea of edible crockery gets me more excited than it should.
With our appetites satiated and still suffering mildly from the sangria and cava we had drunk the night before when celebrating Meg’s birthday, I looked for some hair of the dog in the form of a Moritz beer whilst Meg took a gamble on some mystery fresh juice that was brown in colour. The juice turned out to be a concoction of raw sugar cane and lemon that I ended up drinking (not complaining though) and then we headed off to the shopping area of the market. Now, as reasonably priced the food was for the quality of it, I have to say that if you expecting to go to Palo Alto to buy clothes, homeware and such you’re going to need a fair bit of money on you. Of course, all the products available are unique and well-made and I did collect a lot of business cards from stalls in case I decided to buy something from them before I go back to the UK (there were some cat planters that I had my eye on) nothing was really a bargain, even the sale sections. Regardless, it was fun to browse the individual stands and all of the stall owners were exceedingly friendly!
We headed back towards the food area to look at what goods were on sale, Meg was particular taken by some olive spread whilst I tried some Californian whisky that I was sorely tempted to buy to the point that I tried to convince myself it would be a present for my Dad when he visits. I managed to resist. I did treat myself to some sakura mochi however, at the Niji stand and Meg was kind enough to give me a bite of her tiramisu one. Then we met up the rest of the group whom we had lost upon entering the market and headed over to the “Funk Room”, which had been occupied by your standard hipster playing soul/funk music for most of the afternoon but now the place was packed! A band was now playing on the stage called aupaQUARTET who began to play jazz covers of Michael Jackson songs that had everyone dancing. The performers were so talented that I ignored how much my back was aching from standing up for so long to listen to their entire set. By then, we had been at the market for near 4 hours and decided it was time to head back home. Seems that we came at the right time though, as we left we saw the queue of people snaking down the street and noticed that the entrance was now working on a one-in-one-out system making us wonder what we were missing during the evening. I guess I’ll find out next time I go!