I remember the earliest hours of my second day in Barcelona with photographic clarity. Jarred awake by jet lag around 4 a.m., I wandered out into the streets before dawn. The pedestrian boulevard La Rambla, usually thronged with tourists, stretched vast and grand without them. It was too early for an espresso, or for churros y chocolate. So I wandered the mazelike streets of the Gothic Quarter, surreal at morning's first light, as the city began to wake around me. -
By 7 a.m., I'd worked up enough appetite for a life-changing breakfast. I found an empty stool at the Boqueria's Bar Pinotxo, where sunny proprietor Juanito poured me a modest cava before sliding plate after plate across the bar: whole langoustines with roe still attached, razor clams, chickpeas with blood sausage. When I fell deliriously into my hotel bed afterward, I felt like I'd had an entire day. And it was barely 9 a.m.