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Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Barcelona March 2007

This bar had trees and ponds in it! Definately a different experience. (3.5s exposure to take this one... got everyone holding real still :o) )

We spent a lovely few days last week in the sunny region of Catalunya in Northern Spain. It was nice to be able to relax after a few months of non-stop work with placement and essays….   Catalunya is a region that is perhaps similar to Quebec in Canada or Arequipa in Peru, in which they view themselves as separate from the rest of the country. They have their own language, Catalan, which is a mix of Spanish and French, however everyone speaks Spanish which was handy as our highschool French is quite rusty.

 

We met up with Tony’s sister, Frances, and her boyfriend, Tom, in Barcelona. It was wonderful seeing Frances again as we hadn’t seen her since the end of August. Spent a couple days wandering around Barcelona. We walked down the main street, Las Ramblas, which stretches from Plaza Catalunya’s fountains and statues, all the way down to the marina. A nice walk along a tree lined street with many restaurants and many stalls selling flowers, artwork, and animals including pigeons (yup, pigeons, no idea why someone would want to buy a pigeon), parrots, fish, mice, hamsters, ferrets, snakes, chameleons, lizards. The street also had many human statues/mimes along it which were great fun to watch and see how people interacted with them. V got caught talking to a mime who was trying to get her to come over to him, but she was too shy to go up there, but at the same time couldn’t move away heheh… It was pretty amusing to watch as he blew her kisses and asked for her number in mime :)  Along Las Ramblas was a group of people our age, one holding a sign that V noticed and told me it read, “free hugs” in Spanish.  I didn’t even look at the sign before giving the sign-holder a big hug.  I’m glad it really did say free hugs or who knows how that would have turned out :)  I have no idea why they were doing that but I left with a big smile on my face… I love random things like that!

 

We explored the big market just off Las Ramblas, which sold pretty much everything you can imagine from fruit, eggs (including a big black emu egg), meat, fish, bread, veggies, peppers, candy, chocolate, icecream, nuts, passionfruit (aka ‘snotballs’ mmm) … so you can imagine we had a great time in there. We sampled different exotic fruit, one which was called a Kiwana which was orange and spikey on the outside and greenish on the inside but kinda tasted like water, but the semi-gelly balls that were inside it were fun to move around in your mouth hehehe  Also got a hold of some Chirimoya’s (a fruit which we fell in love with while in Peru) and feasted on those which ended up being quite messy as we had no utensils but it was worth it! Messy is an understatement.  We had people staring at us like we were barbarians, digging our faces into the ripped-apart fruit pieces; good times!

 

We wandered around the Gothic Quarter, getting lost in its twisting streets but enjoyed looking at the architecture, complete with gargoyles! Hehe Saw some people tangoing in the middle of the street by Barcelona’s Cathedral. And enjoyed listening to a street performer playing some really nice music on what looked to be a giant bowl. It’s hard to describe but it was really pretty. Enjoyed a couple drinks in a bar which was unlike any bar we’ve ever been to before, this bar had trees, ponds, fairy’s, and a little walkway inside it! Very nice!

 

We also visited some of Antoni Gaudi’s works throughout the city. Something I read described his work as resembling Dr. Seuss, which I think is a pretty accurate description, at least for some of it. We saw the two houses he had built in Barcelona and the park which he had originally designed to be a community with houses, schools and shops but didn’t achieve. There was a big hill leading up to the park and to make climbing this easier they have installed escalators in the middle of the street to help people up the hill, which we thought was hilarious but also very handy, especially in the heat. Spent some time walking along the various paths in the park and while sitting in the courtyard noticed there were quite a few parrots flying in the palm trees across the ways! Our favourite Gaudi work was La Sagrada Familia, a giant cathedral which is still not finished as Gaudi passed away before this project could be completed. It is huge, you feel very small standing next to it. They are currently trying to finish it to Gaudi’s plans (ETA: 100 years or so) but it was still amazing to see, go inside of and wander around the towers of it. We think it’s probably one of the most impressive cathedrals we’ve seen in Europe. A must see if in Barcelona!  Taking the elevator to the top and then exploring the towers on the way down is a treat as well, the path down flows from one tower to the next with places where you can look out over the city next to statues and designs carved into the building.

 

We spent a day travelling up the coast (Costa Brava or “The rugged coast” in english) stopping off at various beaches and towns. It’s quite a rugged shoreline at points, so the roads are horribly windey. Stopped off at Girona, a medieval city about an hour north of Barcelona to explore its cobbled streets inside the city walls. It had a nice feel to it and the food was amazing! 

 

We came to a street that had several well-armed militia/police looking types looking serious guarding nothing at all that we could see.  We asked one of them if something was going on; “Nothing is going on. … … That man over there is in charge.”  So we left before the “nothing” went down.  We passed close by later to hear screaming and took a peak to find it was a rally as I suspected it might be. I’ve been a bit more aware of demonstrations like this after Veronica and I accidentally walked right into a few hundred people watching the American flag burn in Bolivia years ago, and earlier in the day we saw a large sign painted on someone’s roof that read “If it’s called tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” and under that “<catalan-word-i-don’t-know> AND RESIST” in massive block letters.  Anyways, the rally consisted of catalan separatists Vs. people who prefer peace above all else basically.  Lots of screaming and such, but the armed guards kept them at bay without much effort.

 

Now back in Glasgow, well rested and eagerly awaiting our next trip! :)

 

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