Barcelona Days 1 & 2

Trip Start Dec 12, 2009
Trip End Dec 27, 2009

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Canvis Nous 12

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Sunday, December 13, 2009

 They say that all good trips have bumpy beginnings.  (Seriously, I’m pretty sure they say that.)  After a bumpy trans-Atlantic flight and one of the two of us having neglected to print directions to our reserved apartment in Barcelona (doesn’t matter who, but it was Ashley) our trip showed real early promise.  Fortunately, as Barcelona is a mere burgh of 4 million people, we eventually bumped into the apartment’s owner, and by mid morning, we were flipping the proverbial bird at the travel experts by slumbering deeply on a very non-bumpy bed.  It turns out, our instincts were right, because when we awoke four hours later (drum roll . . .), Barcelona was still there! . . . and we felt great.

They also say that all good trips prompt you to learn more about the place you’re from than the place you’re visiting.  (You know they say that.)  And so far we’ve learned that Americans, most definitely including us, aren’t as cool as we like to think.  Northern Spaniards?  Hepcat cool.  Rat Pack cool before Frank turned Republican.  Javier Bardem cool.  Antonio Banderas cool.  Even the elderly ladies smoking their cigarettes in a café are cooler than some of the cooler Americans.  You say, “cooler than George Clooney?!”  Ah, remember that he now resides in Italy, and from what I recall of Italy, the same thing applies.  (Speaking of Italy, Ashley is wowing the cool Spaniards with her command of broken Spanish spoken in a near perfect Italian accent.)

She’ll join me now for some of what follows.

It is true, I’m challenged to actually speak any Spanish here.  At a tapas bar yesterday afternoon I was prepared to say, “quiero uno mas vassa vinto tinto, por favor,” but instead froze and picked up my glass and looked at the waiter.  He asked, “uno mas,”  and all I could muster was, “Si.”  A moment later a fresh glass of red wine arrived.

Sunday evening we explored the Old City and walked La Ramblas which has been called Barcelona’s Champs d’Elysee and then stopped for tapas at a little bar.  The food, so far, has been delicious.  At the tapas bar we had squid-ink croquettes (deep fried squid-ink and mushrooms- Steve liked this more than I did), bombas pulpo (delicious fried calamari with potato topped with some sort of tomato flan,) croquette y jamon (deep fried ham and cheese,) and pan con tomate y aceite de olivio (bread topped with tomatoes and olive oil.)  All very good, very fresh, and very inexpensive.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day touring Gaudi sites across the city.  Gaudi, the head honcho of the Modernista artists and architects of the early 20th century (more or less), had one far out mind.  Frank Lloyd Wright -- a contemporary of Gaudi’s -- is known for incorporating nature into the buildings he designed.  Gaudi, by contrast, made his architecture look like nature.  (see photos)  Straight lines?  Fugghetaboudid!  We started at La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudi that was started in 1882 and is slated to be finished around 2026- the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death (he was struck and killed by a street car while admiring one of his buildings in 1926...)  Upon first glance, some of the towers look like a kid’s sand castle that someone’s dripped sea water on.  The place is gorgeous, but it’s also a super-busy construction site, with some of the world’s most talented craftspeople vying to spend a little time contributing to this masterpiece before it’s set to be finished in 2026.

Next we headed to Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera), another famous Gaudi building.  It is an apartment building that was built in 1916 in the modernisme style, which is hard to imagine in 2009, let alone 1920.  As you’ll see from the pictures the roof terrace is topped with what looks sculptures, but they are actually chimneys for the apartments.  The building was turned into a museum in the early 90’s.

Had a late afternoon tapas at a great place near the Gaudi sites.  Saw Casa Batllo and Casa Amatller.  Headed home, napped, Steve went and grabbed jamon iberico- delicious cured ham from pigs raised on acorns and only available in Spain.  It is a specialty here and luckily, one of the best places to buy it is around the corner from our rental apartment. 

Off to see the Picasso museum and Cathedral de Barcelona today.
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Dawny on

I love the blog! You guys are such good writers, I feel like I'm experiencing what you are. Very cool.

Mark & Carol on

Fantastic!! Please keep this coming
Thanks for the pictures and the blog

Keith & Lisa on

So cool!! Keep em' coming.............

Julie Bandy on

This is great! I love the blog, and the photos are fantastic! More please!!! :)

Kellie on

Glad you enjoyed Barcelona. Can't wait to hear more about the trip.

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