Sunday, 6 February 2011

Vintage & Vespas Barcelona Style...

One of my funniest and fondest memories of London is of the early Sunday morning market that stretches down Brick Lane and Cheshire Street. There was a summer quite a few years back when we used to find ourselves walking through this market many more times than we intended. We had some friends who shared an amazing flat on Cheshire Street which was the scene of many an unscheduled party, all really good fun but the one drawback was that we would have to make our way home on Sunday morning in an unhealthy hung-over state and negotiate our way through the most random selection of stalls and produce that I’ve ever seen. There were some great things on sale, but if I tell you that I once saw someone selling sets of dentures (used!) from a suitcase you’ll get an idea of how bizarre it could sometimes be.

The whole area has changed a lot now, of course, and many of the things you’ll buy there will be much trendier and therefore far more expensive. I’ll always remember how unique and inspiring it was. To get a flavour of it please have a look at this blog from photographer Phil Maxwell which is full of poignant images from this area and beyond.

You can imagine that I was pretty intrigued when I saw that a vintage sale called Brick Lane BCN was being held today. The venue was a vintage Vespa hire shop called Via Vespa on c/ Princesa at the top of Born by the park. If you want to hire a Vespa when you’re here in BCN, you could do worse than check them out, they also run organised Vespa tours around the city, which look like a lot of fun. Sadly I don’t have a driving license, so I’ll just have to be content with admiring the vintage Vespas for their looks. 

When we arrived, I was a little bit confused, I’ll confess. There were only a few rails of stock (not sure if there had been more that had already been sold) and there didn’t seem to be anyone trying too hard to sell what there was. This may have been because there were more people outside smoking and drinking wine than there were inside looking at the bags and shoes. I may be being picky but I like a lot of things to rummage through and there really wasn’t any rummaging to be had. I thought that the prices may have been set a tad high; in this eBay driven age we can all find this stuff a lot cheaper if we really try.

I’m going to investigate the charity shop culture here in BCN over the coming weeks to see how it compares to the vintage scene.  I’ll let you know what I discover, as well as bringing you more information on boutiques, specialist shops and any quirky stores that I may find. Let me know if you have any recommendations for me to check out. Please feel free to say hello anyway, my comment box is feeling unloved. To find out what we did with the rest of our day you can read His Nibs blog.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Your Name's Not Down, You're Not Coming In...

First of all, I have to apologise for my failure to update this blog over the last week or so. (The last fortnight, I know. Ssshh!) One of the great things about blogging is that it can make you get out and about and find things to write about. Well, that was my thinking when I began this little blog of mine. Unfortunately I failed to account for the facts that not only do a lot of businesses here in BCN close to take their holiday in January, but it’s also one of the wettest months of the year here. So, excuses maybe, but it has meant I haven’t been able to explore and hunt down as many places as I’d have liked to in January.

However, I woke up today to glorious sun streaming in the windows and a noticeably warmer temperature too. I had heard that the tent that was used for the Barcelona World Race in Port Vell was hosting a fashion event over three days called 080 Barcelona Fashion (the 080 refers to the BCN postcode) so I thought I’d amble down there and try to find out a bit more. I probably should have done a bit of homework first, as when I got down there it appeared that the men on the door weren’t letting anyone in without a wristband. I skulked about for a while to see if there would be any opportunities to sneak in but no joy. I was left cursing my basic Spanish skills as they left me unable to try any blagging with the very polite but very firm doormen. Even more frustrating as today was the last day and there were events earlier in the day that were open to all. I’ll do better next year!

As it was such a lovely day I thought I’d see if I could redeem anything useful from it by visiting one of the shops I've been planning to profile. Work commitments meant I only had an hour to get to one, gather some info and photos and get back to our flat/office. This wasn’t such a problem (or shouldn’t have been) as I had just the place in mind and knew I could walk there in 20 minutes.

The shop I had in mind, Cereria Subirà at Baixada Llibreteria 7, is a candle shop and is one of the oldest in Barcelona. The premises have actually been a shop since 1761. Anyone who knows me can confirm that I’m a history fanatic so I’ve been dying to get a chance to check it out properly. I’ve heard so much about the interior of this shop, I was really looking forward to getting inside and seeing it for myself. You can imagine how deflated I felt when I got there to be greeted by a shuttered doorway and no clue anywhere as to whether it was closed for lunch, the day or even longer. It was only 13.30 so a bit early for lunch (most close here between 14.00 and 16.00) and a few other people turned up and looked confused while I was standing there, so who knows?

I have found a good video of an interview with the owner Jordi Subirà, which will give you an idea of what I missed out on today. I’m determined to go back and see it for myself and buy a few scented candles (well, it would be rude not to) so I’ll write an update when I do that.

My day was a bit of a non-starter and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and a total billy-no-mates when I couldn’t blag into the 080 Fashion event, but it’s hard to feel too frustrated when the sun is shining and I’m typing this listening to the niños playing and the birds singing in the square outside. It’s been warm enough to leave the balcony windows open today so all’s well that ends well. Thanks for reading and if anyone has any comments, please don’t be shy!