Barcelona

 
Expedia put me in a hotel called GBH 4, so new that the cab driver denied its existance. Showed him the reservation. When we got to the address, the hotel wasn't there.  He freaked. (It's set way back from the road.) Modernist cubist place, very nice, four blocks walk through a cemetary to the beach. This is my first glimpse of the Mediterranean. I've now seen 85.7% of the seven seas.

 
There are a few tables-under-a-tent seafood restaurants along the beach. Somehow didn't get a pic of the restaurants; here's dinner.

 
I allocated way to little time to Barcelona (3 days). I'd thought it would be a bunch of condos like Miami Beach, and wouldn't have gone there at all but for Gaudi. Among the things I missed: the largest electronic music festival in Europe (by 1 day); the Russian National Ballet performing Swan Lake; the Picasso museum; the tram that goes from a mountaintop over the bay; and the naval museum (shown).

 
I bought this guy's CD because his songs only use words that I know. Maybe he dropped out after the third grade. He also sang Blowin in the Wind in Spanish, which I found passing strange. Good thing it wasn't in Catalan. People are bilingual in Catalan and Spanish. In some cases it's a matter of spelling (Horchata -> Orxata). In other cases it's radical (con -> amb). Got the impression that 25% of the words came from medieval French. It's pronounced in a blur like English rather than the sewing-machine taka-taka-taka of Spanish. Airport signs are trilingual.
 
About 1/3 of the traffic is bikes. Many of the side streets are dedicated to bike parking. Maybe it's green, but I never did get used to seeing suits on mopeds. Or maybe it's seeing suits being green. (I have enough of the 60s left in me that wearing a suit makes you an automatic asshole.)
 
View from my hotel room.  Could that be...could that possibly be the Telstra tower? Yes, actually. The original may be in Canberra, but Barcelona also has a telephone relay tower with space-needlish observation desks.  Another thing I didn't make it to. There's enough left to see that I'm thinking of making next year's international trip to Malaga (beach, Picasso's hometown) with daytrips to Seville and Gibralter, then up to Barcelona, then on to Rome.

Recommended: a charming movie about Barcelona called Tapas. In the opening scene we see Granny tottering along the street.  Aw, what a cute little dog in that car! So she smashes the window and lets him out. The whole movie's like that. In the kitchen of a tapas joint, we see the owner Gilberto yelling at his wife "We're out of octopus! We're out of milk!" She's rolling her eyes and heads out.  Cut to her leaving their apartment with a wheelie, never to reappear the rest of the movie. Back to the front of the restaurant where we see Granny dealing coke under the table. The owner spends the rest of the movie trying to cover for his wife's absence--he hires a Chinese martial artist to work in the back and answer to Rosalita when he bellows. We see him in a bar confiding to a woman that he'd like to say she's gone, but doesn't want to lose face. "I'm a whore, Gilberto", she points out. "You're asking a whore about honor." I could keep going...you get the idea. Its the character-driven quirky fluff that the French do so well.

Tapas along the harbor: seriously overate at this place. The waiter had immigrated from Colombia and learned a new language--Catalan. When he found out I spoke Spanish he kept giving me little extras to try. He asked if pretty much everyone in the US spoke Spanish these days. He was off by a generation.
 
  Antoni Gaudi (1952-1926) spent 40 years on La Sagrada Familia. He figured God was in no hurry. It wasn't finished at his death. The city is now finishing it off, in a style that's much more conventional than Gaudi's own. Like most Spanish architecture, this defies photography because it's on such a large scale. You can shoot bits and pieces, but it would take VR to give the whole. In fact, it was so large and various that it was hard to take it all in while walking around it.
 
 
 
 


Granada