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Best of Barcelona Shopping

David Cicconi Lobby, El Born's answer to Paris's Colette.

Photo: David Cicconi

Momentarily tired of clothes, we descend upon Vinçon, a gigantic, sometimes surprisingly kooky design store, where you can purchase a miniature Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair, along with far larger pieces. Witty interpretations of classic rattan porch furniture, shaped like 1930's club chairs and sofas, are a must-have but for two small problems—they will have to be shipped home by container, and I don't have a veranda. Better to confine myself to Vinçon's many clever lamps, which appear to have been inspired by everything from life rafts to salt rocks.

Saturday begins with a surprise. We've been so busy running all over town that we missed Corium, the superb shop connected to the Omm itself. The shrewdly edited stock—stone necklaces from Italy, Paul Smith satchels from England—proves that we have only scratched the city's retail surface , despite our nonstop shopping. Nonetheless, it's our last day in Barcelona (no point including Sunday in a Spanish shopping weekend), and we spend it in Gràcia, a low-key quarter that is experiencing, in common with so many other traditional Barcelona neighborhoods, an explosion of innovative shops. The anchor of the neighborhood is a huge covered food market, the Mercat de la Llibertat. We are equally taken by the glorious produce and the fact that Barcelona's matrons still do their grocery shopping in gabardine suits and polished pumps.

Traffic in the quarter has been barred from many of the smaller streets, and quirky businesses are nestled next to more conventional venues. And so we do what has become our habit every day since we arrived—we wander, we share a boule of ice cream, we poke our heads into small shops, and, of course, we buy: ridiculously cheap woven palm bangle bracelets at Sare: Artesanías de Africa, whose owner arrived five years ago from Cameroon, and toile cushions at Atram, which feels like an Iberian Shabby Chic.

But it is at La Cova del Col.leccionis-me, a rigorously curated ephemera shop, that we realize the city's credentials as a stylish metropolis are anything but new: a collection of issues of a 1920's magazine called La Doña Catalana offers breathtaking Art Deco fashions on every page. We stock up on vintage postcards depicting scenes of early-20th-century Barcelona, perfect souvenirs for friends who aren't getting espadrilles, palm bracelets, or salt-rock lamps. Then we repair for the last time to the Hotel Omm, drop our packages at the desk, order a couple of well-earned cocktails at Moo Restaurant, and try to figure out how we are going to get everything home.


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