On our first day in Barcelona, we checked out the popular food market, La Boqueria. Today, we went to see another bustling market, the Encants Market. The Encants Market is a flea market that takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 7AM to 5PM. This is perfectly fitting of its official name, Mercat del Encants Vells, which means the Market of Old Charms in Catalan. Vendors selling second-hand goods will call out to you and advertise their wares. The spirit of haggling is palpable in the air, and everywhere there is the lively banter between customers questioning the quality of goods and sellers pushing for a sale.
The charm of the Encants Market lies in random odds and ends that can be found at each vendor’s stall. Some vendors will specialize solely in one item, whether it is books or wooden objects; however, the vast majority of the stalls will lay everything out in the open, and allow their potential customers to take their time to scan over all their objects or sift through piles of records. It’s not uncommon to see an old toaster on top of a pile of black and white photographs situated next to a box full of nail polish.
We wandered throughout the market for a good two hours or so. My friend bought a Marlboro lighter, most likely from the 80s, and I bought a few postcards. I noticed, though, that the vendors were more willing to lower their prices earlier in the day when there were fewer tourists. As the market began to fill up more, the vendors were less likely to concede because the number of potential customers increased. To be honest, I actually felt that I overpaid for my postcards by at least €2. It also helps your bargaining power if you speak Spanish and even more if you look Spanish, as in my friend’s case.
Leaving the Encants Market shortly before noon, we walked down to see the Arc de Triomf. Surrounded by palm trees and made out of red stone, the arc seemed more like something I would expect to see in Southern California, not Barcelona.
Going through the Arc de Triomf, we walked down the Passeig de Luís Companys and straight to our next stop: Cuitadella Park. Since the sun was bright overhead, there were lots of people in the park, lounging, riding on bikes, and soaking up the warmth. The park is home to what was listed on my map as the Gaudí Fountain. In reality, though, Antoni Gaudí did not design the fountain. He was actually the assistant at the time to the actual architect, Josep Fontsère. Fontsère is also responsible for the creation of Cuitadella Park. The fountain was inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome, so its stone sculptures are pretty amazing.
We ventured further into the park to find more lush greenery. After deciding not to visit the zoo or any of the museums, though, we realized the true size of the park. The map makes the park look quite big, but in reality the zoo takes up a large portion of the area. Even the lake was not as large as we had thought, although the people boating seemed to be having a great time.
For lunch, we went to Elisabets because we had heard that it had a good menú del día. The three-course lunch set costs €10.95. For starters, my friend got the Crema de Calabaza, pumpkin soup. The soup was smooth, and the pumpkin flavor not too intense; a great start to the meal.
I had the Tortilla Española. Unlike the flour tortillas one would use to make wraps, Spanish tortillas are made with eggs and potatoes. At the end of our trip, my friend thought that Elisabet’s had the best tortilla. This was because the eggs in the tortilla were still slightly runny, making the dish more reminiscent of an omelet. This tortilla was also not as thick because it did not have as many thick potato chunks.
For the main course, my friend had the Brocheta de Pollo a la Brasa, grilled chicken skewer. She thought that the chicken was pretty basic, but it was still tasty. The sauce on top was great for dipping with the fried potatoes.
For my main course, I ordered the Calamares a la Plancha con Ajo y Perejil, gilled squid with garlic and parsley. The calamari was tender, but there was too much rock salt on top. I scraped some off in the end because it was too salty. As with the chicken, the sauce for the dish served as a great condiment for the side of potatoes.
My friend ordered Mousse de Limón, lemon mousse, for dessert. It had a strong lemon flavor but wasn’t sour. It came in a plastic cup, and we guessed that it was not homemade.
Continuing with the citrus trend, I ordered the Pastel Fresco de Limón, fresh lemon cake. This dessert was disappointing. The cake was not very lemony at all, and the sauce did not pair well with the cake. The sauce was actually more on the savory side, and a bit off-putting.
For after the meal, my friend got a cappuccino (€1.80). She said it was just average, and didn’t have anything bad or good to say. It was, simply put, just a regular cappuccino.
In my quest to try more varieties, I ordered the hot chocolate (€1.90) and was greeted with yet another letdown. The drink was not as good as the one at Valor. It resembled and had the consistency of pudding. We surmised that it came from a package.
The service at Elisabets was questionable. The waitress was slow overall, even in giving us menus, and we were skipped over a couple of times. Tables that arrived later than us even got their dishes before us. Elisabets seems like a great place to have a relaxed lunch, but consistency is lacking. There were dishes that shined, but some of the dishes which showed potential ultimately missed the mark.
Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, 8
08018 Barcelona, Spain
Carrer d’Elisabets, 2
08001 Barcelona, Spain
Monday-Thursday, Saturday 7:00 – 23:00
Friday 7:00 – 2:00