here, there, everywhere

Barcelona First Days

In Europe, Spain on July 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

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Mom and Dad have a timeshare that is fairly international and they know if they want us to join them, they need to pick a destination my brother and I are interested in.  This time they picked Spain so on Saturday morning I flew out ahead of everyone else for a two week vacation.  It started well enough on the leg from Vancouver to Toronto, but then took a slight header south due to the Bradley Cooper double header to Barcelona.  I took sleeping pills to knock me out for the 7 hour flight, but each time I woke up to the living nightmare of his blue eyes staring at me either from the A-Team (so very very bad) or Limitless (I can only imagine how awful that one was).  Nevertheless we arrived without further incident and I managed to make my way to our accommodations for the next week.

We are staying in an apartment on Carrer de Valencia and Passeig St. Joan and it is AWESOME.   Wrought iron balconies and a direct view of the spires from La Sagrada Familia which is only about a fifteen minute walk away.  Mom and Dad showed up a few hours later and we went for dinner and then a walk to keep ourselves awake til 9pm.  Because it was Sunday the city was fairly dead and I was looking forward to seeing what happens when everyone goes back to work.  This morning we headed to La Sagrada Familia so the parents could jump on a city bus tour while I´d go in the basilica to check it out.

First impressions of a ´busy´Monday morning – very quiet and relaxed compared to home, and no joke, these are some of the nicest drivers I´ve ever had the pleasure of observing.  Even when you almost get clocked stepping out in front of a moving vehicle, they don´t even honk or yell at you.  They just do that Catalonian wave thing and as soon as you´re safe on the sidewalk they´re on their way.  I´ve heard one horn since being here and have not seen one driver gun for a pedestrian or cyclist.  And speaking of cycling, it is so nice to see parents with young kids riding around the city.  Note to Vancouverites who hate the bike lanes, you´re not very nice.

La Sagrada Familia is wonderful and I didn´t think I´d ever want to spend that much time in a church, even on a Sunday morning.  What they´ve done with the light in there is beautiful and serene, and despite the hoards of tourists it´s all very calming and easy to meditate if that´s what you want to do.  I loved the choir lofts, rooms for 1000 singers, and the 2000 kg bronze statue of Christ outside hovering above the entrance as He ascends to heaven is also magnificent.  I hate using adjectives like awesome, cool, etc., but whatever ones used here are only appropriate for the awe that place inspires.

Then I headed to Parc Guell to see where Gaudi lived and to view some of the architecture in the park.  Once again very lovely, as you step out of the trees colourful mosaic roofs and crosses appear and you can wander down the meandering paths to pass through covered arches where musicians are playing.  My favourite was Yerko who was playing a kora, an instrument from western Africa.  Since I just finished reading ¨The Book of Negroes¨I´m drawn to anything that comes out of the book, and luckily the kora is one of them.

I spent about an hour and a half wandering through the gardens to make the most of the mountainous hike to get up there, and was struck by how many of the street vendors are immigrants from different areas.  Normally in other European places the street hawkers are from one area of Africa but this time there were Afghanis beside Pakistanis beside Ivory Coast beside Korea.  It was a most diverse group of people and I wish I had time to sit down and get all their stories.

It was very warm today which inspired some guys to wander around with their shirts off and I had the (mis)fortune of observing some very odd body hair patterns.  It was all natural as far as I could tell, I´ve never seen hair grow like that on a stomach.  And this was the first time some of them had seen the sun so the white mosaic tiles were not the only things reflecting light in the gardens.  All in all it was a lovely first day in the city and a pleasant way to start the vacation. Barcelona is lovely and I completely get why people decide to stay here forever after arriving.

And now a word about gladiator sandals.  I hate them.

  1. LOL! Gladiators, I didn't like them the first time around, and I still don't like them now. Sounds like a lovely place Alison.

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