Gaudi, Ciutadella & Cardiac Arrest

Trip Start Nov 16, 2008
Trip End Nov 29, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Saturday, November 22, 2008

We decided that this was the day we would go see Sagrada Familia by Gaudi. It was one of the main sites I wanted to see while in Barcelona. We've seen a lot of cathedrals in Europe, but this is something so totally different.

We took the metro, but they were working on the connecting stop, so we decided to just walk from there. It was a longish walk, but quite nice. We saw some nice buildings along the way, including the apartment building designed by Gaudi, La Pedrera. It's rather ugly, gray, undulating, but interesting nonetheless. Casa de les Punxes was quite pretty though and is known as the "House of Spines."

As we continued our walk to Sagrada Familia, the kids were just ahead of us, and DH was next to me on my right. A local man was walking toward us, coming straight in front of me. Since my husband was on my right, I had nowhere to go, but this man clearly expected *me* to move. I had to turn myself into a hockey stick in order to not get hit by the guy, even though *he* could have scooted over. I am still dumbstruck by the rudeness of many of the Spanish people.

We finally got to Sagrada Familia, and what a zoo! There were several tour buses stopped there, little tents of crap being sold across the street, and hords and hords of people. There were a zillion people getting tickets which were not cheap. DH and I looked at each other and came to the mutual conclusion that we had seen enough of the great work by Gaudi. I took some pictures and was then quite happy to vacate the area. What a disappointment.

We were hungry for lunch by then, so we started looking for a restaurant. We tried to find something away from the cathedral, knowing that anything nearby would most definitely be a tourist trap. It seemed that there were not many cafes around though, so we finally decided on one that was just going to have to do; we were hungry. The food was weird, but filled our stomachs.

From there, we decided to go to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It was a beautiful day for it. We walked through the Arc de Triomf, a grand entrance to the park that was built for the 1888 Exhibition. There were a lot of people on bicycles, walking their dogs or just taking a promenade.

The first building we got to houses the Museu de Zoologia, which is basically a room full of dead, stuffed animals. The kids loved it of course. I had to go around and take picture after picture for DS because he wanted to show his class some of the animals they had been learning about. My favorite was the European Beaver. DH just sat on a bench the whole time.

After that, we walked around the park some more. The kids played at a playground a little bit where we watched a birthday party, and one of the moms picked up her little girl and held her while she peed on the sand. Ewwwwww!

We went by the Cascade Fountain which was beautiful--what we could see of it. The main part of it was being refurbished. We talked to some Australian guy there for awhile. He was very interesting. He does bike tours through the park.

We went by the Llac (lake) but it was empty. I'm sure that *would* have been pretty. Normally you can rent a boat there. We continued our way around the park to the parliment buildings (Parlament de Catalunya). Then we tried to find the Antic Mercat del Born, which sounded really cool, but was nothing but some rotting old building.

We stopped at the Barcelona Cathedral and toured that; it was really gorgeous, although the facade was being refurbished so I didn't get to take a picture of the outside. I loved the Cloister with its palm trees, fountain, and flock of geese. The cathedral dates back to 1298, and it is a gothic wonder. It's definitely worth seeing.

We stopped for refreshments at a huge place called "Cappucino." There were a lot of people there, but plenty of open tables. We sat down towards the back at a little corner table and ordered our drinks. The server was not very friendly (something we had gotten used to by now). Before we had even finished our drinks he came by and wanted payment. No, demanded payment. My husband was like, "We haven't even finished yet." The server was insistent and rude, and DH got pissed off (and had gotten quite tired of the rude servers everywhere we'd been), so he told the guy to go away. We finished up, paid our bill and left, exasperated once more.

I never expected such behavior from the Spanish. I remember the first time I went to France, and how everyone says they are rude. I found the complete opposite. I love the French people and have found them to be very helpful and nice with only a couple of exceptions. However, the idea that Americans have of the French seems to fit quite well with the majority of the Spanish. I did come across some very nice, friendly people, but those were the exceptions. It just baffles me. I'll chalk it up to cultural differences I guess, cultural differences I don't understand AT ALL.

Anyway, we headed back to the apartment to freshen up, pack, and get ready for the big event tonight. The Gala Dinner was held at the Hilton Diagonal Mar by the conference center. We were all dressed up, but none of us really wanted to go. It was our last night in Barcelona, and we were tired. Plus, we just wanted to get to France.

We got there a little early, so we sat in the lobby for a bit, then went in. We got to our table and put our smiley faces on. Next to me, on my left, was an older gentleman who was very interesting to talk to, or, well, listen to. He couldn't hear very well, but I just had to ask him about his time he spends doing research in Nepal and that got him talking.

We all got through the first two courses: (1) Autumn vegetable salad with parmasan shavings and French dressing, and (2) seared supreme of hake with grilled scallions, confit tomatoes and garlic cream. And then it happened. I was listening to the man next to me, but I sensed something. I looked around. The man continued to talk. I continued to look, until I saw by the wall, behind the table to our left a bunch of people hovering over someone on the ground.

Everyone had become quiet by then with the exception of hushed voices whispering what had happened. The man had had a cardiac arrest. His wife was standing by the wall in tears. I remembered seeing her earlier in the evening, admiring her pretty red coat. She's young, maybe mid to late 30s.

One miracle of the night is that the room had several cardiologists in attendence. They were giving him CPR. It's not like on T.V.; it's practically violent when you see it in real life. The body convulses under the pressure. Meanwhile, the servers were STILL coming out with the entrees. It was surreal. Did they not know what was going on? Was some idiotic manager telling them, "Get the food out any way!"? Believe me, no one was eating. We were all in shock.

Someone finally found some defibrillators, and watching that is not like on television either. Oh my gosh, I don't know how anyone could survive that, much less come back to life. I'm glad my kids couldn't see it from where they were sitting; it was disturbing, all of it.

It seemed like forever before the paramedics arrived. And when they came in the door, you'd think they were taking a walk in the park. La-la la. We were like, "Hurry up"! Everyone went out of the room at that point, and we all waited to see what would happen. We aren't terribly religious in the traditional sense, but my family and I prayed that the man would be ok. The paramedics were able to stabilize him, and they wheeled him out. Thank God!

We said our goodbyes to friends and colleagues since this was our last night. Everyone, including us, was in a daze. When we went outside to get a taxi, the ambulance was still there! OMG... One of the cardiologists that had done CPR was there, so we asked him if the guy was ok. Of course, here in America, he would have been at the hospital by now. He said he thought that he was still stable, but they were waiting to transport him. Strange.

It was a horrible night. But everyone just wished that the man survived and would be ok. We never have heard what happened after we left the hotel that night...
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Marc on

It's a pity you found people in Barcelona to be rude, but you're being unfair when you generalize to Spaniards in general. Do you realize a high proportion of the people living in Barcelona are immigrants? For instance, most staff at hotels, bars and restaurants come from Eastern Europe or Latin America. If you truly want to get to know Catalans or Spaniards, you should get away from the center of big cities. Besides, do you honestly think people in big American cities like New York or Los Angeles are any more friendly than in Barcelona?

As for you comment:
"Of course, here in America, he would have been at the hospital by now", Spain, like most Western European countries, is known for having an excellent free health-care system. We all saw how good the relief and emergency services are in the USA when Katrina hit New Orleans.

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