November 2, 2010

I am REALLY enjoying Barcelona!  What a GREAT city!  I had originally “booked” two and a half weeks here, but I think I may stay another week.  There is SO much to see and do and I see no reason to rush through it.  I still have almost a whole month left to enjoy Spain!  My hotel room is a third floor walk up, but in a really good location.  It also lacks a WiFi internet connection, so I am having to frequent the closest Starbucks.  I think there are about 15 Starbucks in Barcelona… I’ve found a short-cut to the nearest. 

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is AMAZING!  I’ve visited a couple of times already and plan to go back frequently.  I became a “Friend” of the Sagrada Familia… which means I can enter as many times as I want.  I still haven’t made it up to the top of the towers, but the lift has either been out of order or too crowded every time I have gone so far.  I’ve got plenty of time!  The POPE is coming to consecrate the building in a few days.  Up to now, it has just been an interesting building.  As of Sunday, it will be a “church”.  I asked, but I wasn’t “invited” to see the Pope… I can’t imagine why! 

Anyway… the place IS amazing!  It has been under construction for the past 130 years… and still has at least 20 years to go!  I WOULD like to see it completed! 

I took a walking tour of the oldest “Gothic” district of Barcelona today.  Very interesting.  The city starts as a Roman colony in the year 15 BC and gets taken over by Visigoths a couple of centuries later.  There are Roman ruins and walls… and later Visigoth and Christian buildings.  The area also includes the Jewish district, but I have yet to take the self-guided walking tour of it.  I plan to do that! 

I live close to the “Rambla”… THE street in the city where people walk up and down for no reason other than to see and be seen.  The street is lined with open air restaurants, tourist art and “human statues”.  The last is people who dress up outrageously in some fashion or another and hope that you will take your picture with them for a tip.  Some are much better than others, but it is always fun to see what people are willing to do for some loose change (which I’m sure adds up!). 

Otherwise, Barcelona is a Modernisme paradise.  Modernisme is Catalonia’s answer to the Art Nouveau movement.  It’s “Patron Saint” is Antoni Gaudi, who took inspiration from nature to form outrageously shaped and colored buildings.  The Sagrada Familia is probably his best known work (and largest) but there are several other really interesting parks and buildings designed by him in the city.  Picasso and Dali are also well represented with museums of their own… neither of which I have gotten to yet. 

Speaking of Catalonia… Barcelona is the capitol of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, which is essentially what we would call a “state”, but one that often feels strongly that it should be independent from Spain.  Catalonian is spoken here as the FIRST language… and all the signs are in Catalonian.  Now, almost everyone ALSO speaks Spanish as well… and a large proportion also speak English.  So, my very poor Spanish is usually answered with very good English… I’m not fooling ANYONE!  LOL!

My father died a few days ago.  He was nearly ninety.  We are not a terribly sentimental… or guilt-laden family.  I will not be returning early.  My brother and sister are taking care of things.  I will visit my mother when I return. 

Life’s a TRIP!