One of the things that I miss most from Spain and Italy, now that I live in Germany, is probably not what you would guess — small, quirky, independent bookstores like this one, housed in an old church building. Come to think of it, I don’t believe it even has any sign bearing its name. Here in Frankfurt they have the big chain mega-bookstores, and even a British Bookshop, but none of the kinds of places where you want to spend your whole afternoon browsing, reading, even getting a cup of coffee and settling in.
This was my favorite bookstore in Barcelona, centrally located on a skinny little street with Las Ramblas at one end and the contemporary art museum (MACBA) at the other — Carrer Elisabets. The rest of the narrow street is filled with cafes and granjas (the odd name for a kind of coffee/snack place in Barcelona), fashion boutiques as well as a cheap 1-euro store, and even a trendy Casa Camper hotel.
Inside the bookstore, you can find everything from Spanish classics and contemporary literature, alternative publications at the front, small sections for foreign language books (English, French, Italian), in the back a large art section, then cooking and travel. Readings and discussions are held in a room underneath the back of the bookstore, which you can spot through a glass skylight through the floor (so look out if you’re wearing a skirt!) and in the very back of the shop is even a cafe where you can get some coffee, cava or something to eat. What more could you want?
And of course I love, as you walk down Carrer Elisabets or any of the old streets in the Barrio Gotico or El Raval, all the little details, like this iron fence with vines growing and woven through it.