Day 1: Barcelona

Well, here we are in Spain, arriving after a short-feeling flight on Iberia from Chicago to Madrid (where our plane of 218 only had 100 people on board).  We hopped another flight from Madrid to Barcelona and caught our breath.  Upon arrival we decided that our first order of business was not to get pickpocketed in the airport, which we were successful at doing.  Our next stop was to purchase our 10 ride for the Metro (cost €7.70), hopped on the train and off again at the stop closest to our hotel.  I was a little tired and cranky.  And hot.  We found our hotel (ok, Jim did), the Evenia Rossello, where we dropped our stuff, called our expat friend Tommy who lives in Barcelona with his family, took a quick shower, and were out the door again in about 20 minutes.  That’s how we roll.

We met Tommy downstairs in the lobby and he proceeded to take us on a mini-tour of the surrounding Eixample neighborhood, as he lives just around the corner.  In serious need of coffee to inject a little liquid stimulation, we stopped on a nearby main drag for a sit and a visit.  Tommy left us after a while and we decided we should get going, too, as unfortunately Barcelona wasn’t coming to us, we had to go to her.  We sat there politely for about 30 minutes waiting for the waiter to bring our bill, but it turns out that was a sucker move.  As was to be the case in many instances down the Spanish road, Jim had to engage in the little game of hide-n-seek the waiter played.  Although there was no clear winner, we felt concurrently satisfied to have figured out the drill and stupid for not doing so sooner.  Nevertheless, we were soon on our way to get our sightsee on.

Jim about to enter the madness known as Las Ramblas

Jim about to enter the madness known as Las Ramblas

We started by going down Rambla de Catalunya, a street that eventually turns into Las Ramblas, which is supposed to be the Crown Jewel of Barcelona.  In a word, it’s a shitshow.  Mobbed with people (many of whom are pickpockets, we are told), people randomly wander up and down this road that is lined with KFC, McD´s, Dunkin Donuts, stands selling pets (horrible!), flowers, and kiosks of crap.  It didn´t take us but a few blocks to realize we really wanted no part of it.  So we veered off into the Barri Gotic  neighborhood, which was more tranquil and cool.  Well, except for the throngs of riot police all over in full riot gear.  Turns out we had just missed a lively demonstration by the teacher´s union.  Hmmm..  didn´t know teachers had it in ém.  We made our way to the Picasso Museum, checked our bag, and wandered through it.  Took about 30 minutes and we can´t really say it was worth it if you aren’t a huge Picasso fan..

Typical street in Barri Gotic neighborhood

Typical street in Barri Gotic neighborhood

After the museum, we wandered the Barri Gotic a bit more (very Venice feeling neighborhood that has narrow streets shooting off this way and that), and wound up along the marina for a coffee accompanied by a sliver of a water view.  We watched the people and world go by for a while, then made our way back to our hotel via the Las Ramblas.  Once again, it was an awful mess and I don’t think our jet-lagged brains were able to compute that, naturally, nothing would have changed in the few hours since we’d last been there.

We made our way back to the hotel, freshened up, and met Tommy downstairs at 19:30 to go for drinks and a little dinner.  He drove us up to a bar on the “mountain.”  A sidenote:  Spaniards play fast and loose with the term mountain.  In most other parts of the world, these would be hills, or even foothills.  But in Spain, everything is a mountain.  At any rate, the bar was super cool with a fabulous view of, well lights.  We can only assume it was Barcelona.  After we had a couple of beers (Estrellas), we went back down the “mountain”, dropped off Tommy´s car in the smallest parking spot known to man, and went out to dinner.  At dinner we had our very first introduction to Spanish ham.  Ham, it soon became apparent, is the national food of Spain.  Everything comes with ham or has ham on the side.  Even the bacon comes wrapped in ham.  Ok, I made that last part up.  But the Spanish are silly for ham.  I also had a risotto of some sort, Jim had some fish thing, and we were all stuffed to the gills.  It was about midnight when we finished, another thing we soon learned:  no one eats at a normal hour in this country.

After dinner and feeling uncomfortably full, we waddled back to the hotel, took a nap, and were up again at the crack of dawn.

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1 Comment

  1. Jim

     /  August 11, 2009

    This blog rocks!


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