Barcelona is a town of a certain size in Spain, situated along some large body of water shared with other countries. Barcelona is known for many things. Its chief exports are goods and non goods. Its weather is mild in some parts. One of its neighboring towns is not Stockholm. Many historical events shaped the culture of the city in exciting and colorful ways. Some number of visitors from around the world go to Barcelona and comment the excitingness and colorfulness of the city. The local people appear to be of all races. They enjoy speaking spanish, eating, walking into your view, and smoking. Most of them would not be described as attractive, though at least 4 are very much the opposite of what was just said. Many can be spotted “Barcelona Kissing”, which involves using thin slices of ham as fake tongues during passionate lip-lock. Additionally, Barcelona is a city of contrasts. For more information about THE BARCELONA WAY OF LIFE, please contact your local Spanish embassy for an informative pamphlet.
Day 8: February 27th
Full bore on a full flu, the day began by wandering around the neighborhood near the hotel to find something for breakfast.
I first passed by this third world looking construction site along the narrow road perpendicular to the hotel. I walked along the construction wall down an alley and stumbled upon a popular and vibrant market selling any kind of fresh food a person would want.
One of many fruit vendors.
Row of serrano ham legs hanging by the hooves.
Goat heads, cow hearts, guts, and testicles.
I don’t know what these animals were, but they had their organs spread like a Viking sacrifice.
C. and I bought a lot of fruit and no cow dongs from the market. While everything looked great, the strawberries and cherries were lacking flavor. The oranges and mango were excellent, however. Also, the cheap cold coconut and fruit juices were delicious. It would be wonderful to live next to such a full featured market.
Next, we took the subway to Gaudi’s still in progress Sangrada de Familia cathedral. Pretty crazy architecture combined with large crowds and construction crews and equipment. This side is the crazy looking side with sculptures set into swirling, dripping dabs of rock. It feels like a wasp’s nest.
The main interior space, artfully cropped to avoid showing all the construction equipment and crew on the ground.
A 2£ lift took us near the top of the completed building. From there, we were left on our own to crisscross the interconnected vertiginous towers, walkways, and spiraling interior stairs. This photo is from and open area between two towers.
Facing the other way is construction on the remaining towers. Somehow they got a full size crane to the top of the cathedral.
Spiral stars leading hundreds of feet down from the top of the tower. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the spiral in the middle appeared to go on forever. Another tower’s staircase was more open and offered terrifying views of the city during descent. I was glad to touch ground again.
After the cathedral, we took the subway to a large park overlooking the ocean. Or it would had it not been so foggy. The centerpiece of the walk was the remains of an extensive brick and stone fortress overgrown with a weird variety of plants. Somehow Barcelona can support cacti, ferns, moss, desert shrubs, pine trees, and grass in the same hillside.
This cat, named Todd, and his brothers lived at the fortress. One was missing an eye.
After going back to the hotel for a nap, we headed over to the stadium for a 10PM game between the Barcelona and Valencia soccer teams. Our seats were primo. We sat between two middle age fans screaming Spanish obscenities and 4 teenage smokestacks in front of us. I bought a serrano baguette sandwich from a vendor. It was fatty.
The game ended with a tie. And the exodus began. All of the subway stops had closed by then, so we walked most of the way home.
Day 9: February 28th
After sitting at a nearby cafe and enjoying refreshingly cheap coffee and pastries, we took the subway to the Gaudi Park on the hillside of a wealthier part of town. It was a little overcast, but the view was still decent. Ships could just barely be seen in the water. The walk from the subway to the entrance along sloped, densely packed streets felt very much like a walk in San Francisco.
The main entrance to the park, facing out.
The park is beautiful, and Gaudi’s structures blend into like the palace walls of a ancient psychopath. Various overhangs and walkways are made from swirling mosaics of large stones. This gallery has a pathway on top of it.
High and low walkways.
A jumbled assortment of buildings on the mains street on the way back from the park.
A full gown tree on abandoned steps near the subway stop.
Before retiring, we took a quick walk along the water’s edge. This photo is from a small jetty. The beach must be a very different feeling place in the summer, but on a spring night it feels like an abandoned urban beach.
Day 10: February 29th
On our last full day in Spain, C. and I woke early, took the subway, and another train to outside of town. Our destination was Monserrat, a magical mountainous area that started as a monastic retreat. The train ride took about an hour and passed through lots of dry, ugly industrial development and slums. Oddly, a lot of the industrial property also had farms on it. Either the workers were allowed garden space, or the produce was very far from organic. There were a lot of sad, soapy rivers along the way. Once we arrived at a town at the bottom of the hill, we took another train up the mountain. It followed a windy, narrow track up the shear walls of the mountain. The ride took about twenty minutes before dropping us off at a large complex near the top.
View near the landing platform on Monserrat.
Some of tall stone peaks behind hotels and church.
Without nary a bottle of water of food, C. and I began a hike of unknown length up the mountain. It ended up taking about 5 hours. The trails were well maintained and paved in a lot of places to avoid falling apart during the rainy season. The first two hours of the hike was virtually a stair climb. This little nativity scene was hidden in a mossy crevice.
Someway up the trail, we looked back to see where we started. To the right is the church complex. Behind and to the left of the large column in the foreground is another church building.
The tallest point of the hike was a lookout over the valley and mountains. The scale is hard to tell from the photo, but we were really high up there and the view was vast.
View of the altar behind locked doors in one of the churches on the mountain.
Another view of the valley. If you look closely, on the right side a church building is perched on the mountainside. A windy gated walkway led up to it. The weather for the hike was perfect. Not to hot and the sun seemed to appear based on our whims. After hours of exercise and not having eaten anything that day we were quite hungry. Luckily, we had gotten the recommendation of a restaurant back in town.
The best part of the meal was a steaming pile of seafood and sausage paella. The rest of the meal included bread, spinach with pine nuts and raisins, a potato pancake with fried egg, and some red wine. Very good but very expensive. It was an thankful way to end the Barcelona trip after a lot of lackluster meals.
Day 11: March 1
Flew back to Paris.
Day 12: March 2
Luckily, I was able to meet up with an old friend from work for coffee and an omelet in the city. She’s been here for three years since San Francisco. It was good to catch up, considering it didn’t know here before.
I leave for Portland tomorrow, really early. The cab hopefully picks me up at 4AM. Some closing thoughts for the road:
Paris reminds me of Hanoi: scooters, small cars, busy streets, dirty rivers, old buildings with shops on bottom and living up top. It’s just an older, cleaner, and more civilized version with white people in it.
Barcelona feels similar to San Francisco, only a more chaotic and less picturesque version. It felt a lot dirtier too. Less pee smell, but more dust.
If I had to live in either place for the rest of my life, it would be any easy choice.