Barcelona is way too big and too crammed full of interesting stuff to spend just a day and a half there. Still, the long train trip from Valencia to Montpellier, France (my next home base) meant either getting up way too early in the morning for my taste or arriving too late in the evening for my landlady’s convenience. So, I broke the trip with a short stop along the Mediterranean coast in Barcelona. I had dinner with friends visiting from the U.S., toured Antoni Gaudi’s as-yet unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, walked for miles and took a sightseeing tour bus for an overview.
Forthwith: Some random observations, which I’m looking forward to confirming or refuting in a future visit.
1). Motorcycles are to Barcelona what bicycles are to Amsterdam. Well, there may not be quite as many, but it sure feels like it!. They run the gamut from big powerful hogs to cute little Vespas, with a smattering of those speedy and colorful Japanese bikes that look like they should be ridden by mutant Ninja turtles or some kind of spiky-haired anime character with a bandana around his or her head. Oh, and skateboarders abound, too!
2) The food is great. Terrific tapas. Fabulous fish and fresh fruit. And wonderful wines, of course. And sometimes, it’s very colorful, too!
3) It’s a truly lovely city, with the high green spaces of Mont Juic, the wide streets of Eixample, the yachts and sailboats at the port and gorgeous architecture everywhere. One small thing I noticed: in much of the city, the corners where streets intersect are clipped off, creating wider, diamond-shaped spaces, and buildings located there usually have a diagonal face looking out on to the intersection. It makes for much lighter living spaces and wider vistas, I’m sure, and it gives the city a more open lighter feel than the density of the population would suggest.
4.) As for Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia? I’m not usually a fan of more outré architecture, preferring the quiet grace of Gothic arches and classical columns. . (Yes, I know, they were all probably originally painted, but I love the natural stone.) In the case of Gaudi, however, all I can say is OMG. Just OMG.
Barcelona, I’ll be back!