Nothing against the Picasso Museum, but the shoe museum is one of those Odd Little Museums that make you feel at home in a strange city. In its honor, here is the first in a series of brief reports on my favorite Odd Little Museums. I hope other Consumer Traveler writers will share some from their own corners of the world.
Some of you (especially readers around age two) may have felt drawn to the little guy peeking out from behind the pile of mantecados I wrote about last week. He’s my favorite caganer, a traditional rendition of the Catalan shitting man. He takes his place in all Catalan nativity scenes (even the ones in churches) to remind you of your humanity. Here’s what it’s all about: no matter what kind of miracles may be going on around you, the arrival of kings and gods and so on, there you are, you and the call of nature, somewhere behind the manger.
I take back all those unflattering things I’ve said in the past about Bilbao. That stuff about how it’s the “the Pittsburgh of Spain.” Yes, it’s an iron city. Yes, the Ría that runs through it is brown. And yes, it’s annoying, if not panic-inducing, that the Guggenheim Bilbao is now listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die. But the city that inspired a planning cliché, “the Bilbao effect” (build a Big-Name-Architect museum and you’ll soon be polishing up your rusting economy with wads of tourist dollars), is more than all that.
If you think the harried shop shopkeepers of Barcelona are ignoring you just because you’re a tourist, you would be wrong (oh, alright, you might be wrong). Maybe it’s just that you don’t know the seemingly disorganized, fabulously efficient, time-honored rules for waiting your turn in Spain.
A few years ago I convinced my husband Ed that spending a week as guests in a country farmhouse in Spain would be the perfect vacation. We’d be surrounded by history, eat some real home cooking, and get to know the people – and more important now than it was then: it would be cheap.
Teresa Parker who runs Spanish Journeys, a specialty tour operator for gourmet tours to Spain, posted this delightful article about Spanish coffee in her blog. Everyone who loves Spain will savor this.