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04 May 2006

Barcelona in words and links

I got back from Barcelona yesterday at noon. The trip was a success, in that I have always really wanted to go there, and I did not have a bad time. Having read Alain de Botton's excellent book The Art of Travel, I was primed for disappointment, or rather not to have absurd expectations so as to avoid disappointment. Also I went there determined not to do what Aimee used to call "tweaking" and which I am prone to anyway by temperament, and of course it is expected of me, as a middle-aged upper-middle-class woman travelling alone. I took only two changes of clothes and my toothbrush and of course my credit card (I'm not crazy) and I stayed in a hostel in the dead centre of the city. I flew EasyJet and I did not rent a car; it was a break on the cheap. Much Gaudi architecture was seen and inexpertly photographed (see next post) and I did a lot of walking, including the 92 stairsteps up to and down from the hostel. Also Sangria and both red and white Spanish wine were drunk. The wine was great, though very pricey in restaurants. Sangria - hmm. I guess it's OK as a mild tipple in the hot weather. The one paella I had was almost inedible, one of the worst things I ever had. Tapas on the other hand, was a great success. I had one posh (ish) seafood meal down by the harbourfront and felt massively ripped off. At least the seafood was fresh, but my God, you expect at least that as you sit right in front of fishing boats and pay a small fortune for a late lunch. But then there were no side dishes, no garnish, measly portions and they even charge you for the basket of plain french bread like from the supermarket, with butter or olive oil or anything. But I won't go on about it.
Barcelona is lovely, like a sort of older, wiser New Orleans. I had the Paul Simon line about "angels in the architecture" playing through my mind as I rambled around, planless, clueless, slightly intoxicated by the sunshine and wishing I could speak and understand Catalan. I tried but failed to pierce the veil of time and see it as it might have been in the Civil War with George Orwell mooching about in his curious mix of nerd and action hero (a little like me in my own head.)

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