Barcelona is to Spain as Montreal is to Canada

Trip Start Aug 13, 2006
Trip End Jan 2007

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Back in the travel business, baby!! It took long enough but boy, was it worth it. So I headed off to Barcelona the day after classes finished. The flight over was odd. The kid in front of me was one of those puberty kids still coming to grips with the concept of "b.o." so he had no deodorant on and totally made my trip hella smelly. Then the barcelona (bcn) airport for some reason smelled like sulfur too. Really gross. Also, which was kind of funny, was on the way into bcn, I was sitting in a window seat so I was obviously looking out at all the sights and at 1 point towards the end of the trip we flew over a huge city so I was thinking it must have been valencia since I knew we were over spain and barcelona is not very far west into the country. However, after flying over this city, we started to turn around, ended up over the mediterraniean for several minutes and then I saw again what I thought was valencia. I started to think "ummm I'm no pilot but are we lost or something??" It turned out that what we flew over WAS bcn but the rich people in town thought flights were too noisy over their neighbourhood so pilots have to now take this massive detour to arrive at the airport instead of flying right in.
Anyways, so Barcelona is a really nice city. It was my favorite I've ever been to (until I got to Madrid ;-). With the Expo coming to town in the late 1800s, I think, and the olympics here in the early 90s, the whole city was beutified for those purposes so a lot of the monumnets in town are fairly new and are very, very cool. It was also awesome to see palm trees again, even though it was only like 15 degrees (celsius) outside.
Normally the case with huge cathedrals is that they are like 500 years old, if not more. However, bcn's most famous, the sacra familia, was actually only starting to be built at like the turn of the 20th century!! The church has had a shitload of problems being built and it in fact still isn't even finished. The church is still lacking a roof!! I think it will be cool that in like 300 years people will be looking back and saying it was in our generation that one of these crazy catholic monuments was built when most others have been completed many, many years prior.
For my jewish readers out there, here's some cool trivia for you: the oldest synagogue in europe is in bcn!! (about 600 yrs old) Bcn used to have one of the biggest jewish populations in the world as well (before the inquisition, obviously). It's this tiny building in this really tiny street in one of the oldest neighbourhoods in town. In true jewish fashion, it was 3 fucking euros to go inside even though the place is no bigger than like 2 kingsize bedrooms. However, I paid, to show support to my fellow jews. Also, the main park of the city, Montjuic, gets its name from either the fact that the romans built a temple for jupiter on it (bcn used to be a roman port during the empire) or it gets its name from the fact that the jewish cemetary was on top of the mountain, thus the name (apparently this explanation is the favoured one as well). Cool, eh??
Another interesting thing about bcn is its similarities to montreal. Bcn is in the region of spain called Catalonia. This region never fully assimiliated into the Castillian Spain (the popular Spain we all know) and as such, Catalonia has retained its own language and culture. As such, Catalonia thinks of itself as its own country within spain, all signs have catalan in REALLY big writing and spanish in MUCH smaller, secondary writing (if at all), much of the city's infrastructure and culture exists thanks to the city hosting the olympics and the city's major park is on a huge mountain. Very montreal-esque, n'est-ce pas?
On my last day in bcn I was going to take the train to madrid but at the train station I was told "sorry! All the trains to madrid are cancelled today." Whaaaaaaaat I was so pissed. It took me 4 hrs of running around to figure something out but when all was said and done, on the 23rd I was off, by plane, to madrid.
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