Viva Barcelona! (Part 2)
Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 8 of 13 › view all entries
Now might be a good time for a quick history of Barcelona â€“ it resides in the Catalonia region of Spain, which was for a long time, not part of the country we now know as Spain. As such, the Catalonia region seems much separate from Spain, and most people speak Catalon as their native language (Barcelona is bilingual, everything is in Spanish and Catalon). (Catalonia is very similar to Quebec in Canada, which has its own identity and speaks a different language than most of the country). Throughout the day, we had noticed many people wearing flags of red and yellow stripes â€“ we had thought this was for the upcoming World Cup game, but they were actually the flag of Catalonia. There was a political rally later that day, and we were witnessing the Catalonians in support of their party and politics.
After tapas, we took a stroll through the Gothic Quarter, which is the old Roman city in Barcelona, and still has some of the Roman city walls.
Our long day adventure continued as we boarded the Metro to catch Gaudiâ€™s grand cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. After exiting the Metro stop and turning around to witness it, the soaring cathedral was a breathtaking sight. Still under construction over 100 years after Gaudi designed it, it contains the same liquid, melting designs that Gaudi is known for. Whatâ€™s most amazing about this marvelous work is that it is at the same time grand (the towers soar above the Barcelona landscape) and miniscule (the detail is painstaking â€“ the depiction of the nativity on one side and the twelve apostles on the other is unbelievable). We returned once more after dark to capture some incredible pictures of this phenomenal landmark.
We awoke fairly late (almost noon) given our late night adventures, so we headed out for lunch right away. (Again, itâ€™s really not that late in Barcelona, where weekend lunches typically go until 3PM). We didnâ€™t realize it at the time, but many establishments shut down on the weekends in Spain, so our choices were somewhat limited. We found a nice small eatery near our hotel, which was a bit corporate (compared to our Italy dining venues), but it turned out to be very good. We had crepes (ham & cheese, and spinach and pine nut with cured duck meat, yum!) and finished with some melon gazpacho (which was meant as an appetizer, but the waitress forgot, but it made a great dessert).
We decided to make a light day with little touristy stops and head directly to the beach in Barcelona â€“the city sits right on the Mediterranean.
The beachfront in Barcelona is very nice, and rather large for an urban beach. We walked a ways down the beach before finding a spot to sit in the still hot Mediterranean sun (even at 4PM). The beach was quite busy, with vendors and street performers on the boardwalk. We also found that public nudity (by both men and women) is extremely common â€“ we saw more than one man standing completely nude, drinking at the chiringuitos (bars on the beachfont).
We left the beach in the late afternoon, just in time to catch the end of tapas at a bar near the Gothic Quarter. This violated one of our dining rules (never eat in a tourist area), but the tapas and sangria turned out to be very good â€“ cured salmon, cured meats, and cheeses served on bread. We both enjoyed the chorizitos (small links of paprika seasoned sausage) the most. Tapas bars in Spain look like sushi restaurants â€“ they have the tapas at the bar behind glass, where you can sit and point to what you want. The food is displayed in artful way. In the more touristy areas, they even have â€śpicture menusâ€ť! Luckily Robâ€™s Spanish was good enough to get us by most of the time.