We'd read the leaflets and checked the hours and had two museums to visit before we left the city. The first was the Catalan museum, in the Castellet Tower which we've seen illuminated each night.
But when we reached the door a little sticky note said "sonnez" so we rang the bell and waited. After awhile we heard what might have been a voice calling from a vast distance. Finally we figured out that the voice was really coming from the speaker by the bell. "11 o'clock" it said. It was then 9:45.
So off we went to the other museum. This, in an old home, was supposed to be an art museum but it, too, was buttoned up tightly. Winter hours again. We cursed Michelins and local tourist offices. We decided to just take an amble.
The weather report had shown a mix of light clouds and dark clouds; as it turned out the dark clouds came first, along with rain, which made the rosy marble sidewalks of the shopping district slippery. But we skidded around and finally found an early lunch. Or rather, it found us -- we were standing right in front of a little cafe advertising Catalan specialties.
Next to us a man had settled in with his crossword puzzle and aperitif; on his table sat a full bottle of wine. At another nearby table a man munched his salad while waiting for his friend, who joined him enthusiastically. This was clearly a restaurant patronized by regulars. The walls were decorated with posters for local mineral waters and tonic waters.
We tasted the local anchovies and herring as entrees, and decided (a goal we've not managed to achieve yet) that entrees and desserts are the best parts, and we should skip the main courses. We find we are just as satisfied watching our fellow diners as we are tasting the dishes. We've learned that you begin your lunch as close to noon as possible, because the restaurant fills then, and everybody settles down to the serious business of chatting, eating and drinking, for the next hour and a half, after which the restaurant will close.
When we finished lunch, the man sitting at the next table doing crossword puzzles was still there. He had managed to linger over one dish and a cup of coffee. The bottle of wine was empty, and the waitress had brought the check. Just then he gestured to her and asked for another half-glass of wine. She suppressed her frown and brought it to him. Of course it was too late to add it to the bill. Well, we thought, he's had one aperitif, one full bottle of wine, plus a free half glass of wine, so he should be ready to go back to work!
After lunch we decided to give the Catalan museum one more try. As it happened, this is not much of a museum. While there are quite a few displays of interesting clothing, dishes and tools of Catalan origin, there aren't any captions at all. Not in any language. Even Catalan.
Instead there are steps. Winding up through the tower of the Castellet is a very old stone staircase. You can stop at each level to see various objects, and then renew your climb. At the very top, you can walk out to a dizzying view of the city below.
Tonight the Chase-Bird truck was back in business. When we left the hotel we remarked to the clerk that we hadn't heard the noisemakers over the weekend. "Well, no, msieu-dame, those are municipal workers and don't work on the weekend." "But the birds were here," we responded. "Oh yes", our informant smiled. "The birds are not municipal workers."