Flashback Friday: market, market BCN style

The Mercat de la Boqueria was one of the highlights of my Barcelona trip in 2010. It was on my to-go list as it was recommended to me by the Bag Hag on Twitter.

Located along the busy pedestrian area La Rambla, it was easy for me to miss it at first. If I remember correctly, the fastest way to get there is to take the L3 and get off Liceu. The market is right above the station, near Dunkin’ Coffee.

I got there at around noon, so I was a little hungry. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy because it was really hot, I just wanted something light and refreshing. I ended up buying fresh juice from a fruit stall and ensaymada from a bakery. That ensaymada was hands-down the best piece of bread I have ever eaten!

The Boqueria market has a fresh, colorful, sweet, savory and exotic assortment of food – just looking at everything is an experience itself.


Mercat de la Boqueria

Mercat de la BoqueriaThe dress code: no swimwear allowed! That sign was absolutely necessary as there actually were lots of tourists walking around in the city dressed as if they were at the beach.


Mercat de la Boqueria

Fresh fruits! For the health junkies, there were pre-mixed fresh fruit salads available. I got myself fresh fruit juice.

Mercat de la BoqueriaCandies!

Mercat de la BoqueriaDried fruits and nuts!


Mercat de la Boqueria

Not really sure what these were, but they were moving!
There were other things not for the faint of heart like bull testicles and goat heads (very Fear Factor!)

Mercat de la BoqueriaOrganic/orgasmic lasaña!

Mercat de la Boqueria

Taipei: visiting Longshan Temple & Snake Alley

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

The heavy, non-stop rains in Taipei in mid-December limited to my itinerary to two sites, preferably indoors, per day, plus any more I had time and energy for. I also didn’t force myself to see all major tourist attractions. This might have been a very lazy approach to experience the city, but with a huge umbrella (nicely provided by the hotel. The small, cute umbrellas wouldn’t help), wet boots, dampened spirits, I really didn’t want to stress out too much about having to see everything. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have been too relaxed because I ended up shopping quite a few times. Oh well.

Of course I had to visit a temple. Longshan Temple is not the biggest temple, but it apparently is one of the most beautiful in the city. I went at around 6 PM so I could witness the offerings. I expected people meditating and doing tai chi. When I arrived, the crowd was just starting to gather. With the smell of incense, the sight of the colorful offerings of flowers and fruits, the jam-packed people in close quarters, it was sensory overload. There were a lot of people and a lot of sounds, yet it was very peaceful. I walked around taking it all in, wondering what they were praying for, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. It was, after all, their sacred space and I was a just a visitor.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Outside the temple, I met a monk named Yuan Hong (not sure if I spelled it correctly). He was standing near one of the exits. Not wanting to impose, I asked him if I may give him a donation – a strange question, I know. He said yes, and when I asked if I could take a photo of him, he agreed.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Walking a little further, I reached the Hua Xi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, as some stalls cook and serve snake meat. It was still a bit early and some stalls weren’t even open yet, so I decided to get a foot and back massage at one of the massage parlors at the market. For 50 minutes, I paid only around €5! They made me change into shorts so I could put my feet into a tub with hot water and some kind of salt. While my feet were soaking, I was given a back massage; I could feel a lot of tension on my back. After the back massage, my feet were next. The masseuse couldn’t understand English, so whenever it hurt, I just made gestures and winced in pain, and she’d understand.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

After a relaxing 50 minutes, I decided to look around the market to see all my food options. I stopped at a stall that had what I was looking for, but didn’t know what it was called. There were tables but I sat in front of the cook and pointed at my order. When I asked him what it was, he took out his cellphone. Because I thought he was going to get his calculator to show me how much it was (as happened quite often), I tried to gesture, “no, not yet” but it turned out to be his smartphone and the Google Translate app. Ha! With it, he told me it was a Taiwanese Hamburger. I heard another woman order the same, calling it Gua Pao. I loved the combination of the soft bun, the salty meat and the cilantro, but the sweet sauce was a bit too sweet for me.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

To wash the taste of the sauce off, I bought bubble tea. Before this trip, I didn’t know it was invented in Taiwan! I ordered taro-flavored milk tea. We have a few bubble tea stands in Vienna, but aside from the chewy tapioca, I didn’t really like the flavors they were serving. The bubble tea in Taipei was different, a little tastier, creamier, sweeter. It made me really happy. Really – I was walking around sipping the cup with a grin on my face.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Happy and satisfied with my food choices, I just walked around to see the other food stalls. A lot of them sold grilled sausages. There were colorful sweet things, like jelly balls.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi

I stopped in front of a stall with terraria of huge snakes in front, a dining area at the back. Just as I got there, a man sitting on a high chair looked at me sternly, shook his head, and wiggled his index finger. I think he was forbidding me to take pictures. Although I wasn’t planning to anyway, the man scared me and I walked on.

Taipei: Longshan & Hua Xi