Monday, June 25, 2018

European Vacation - not the movie - Spain

We successfully visited and drove in four countries speaking three foreign languages well enough to get what we wanted without insulting anyone or triggering any international incidents.  I’d say that was a successful trip.  The first country we went to was Spain.  We stayed in a centrally located apartment in Barcelona that one of us found on either Air B&B or Trip Advisor.  I don’t know which.

The weather was very warm but not too hot during the day and pleasantly cool in the evenings, or otherwise perfect.  We had some rain and a downpour the day we went to Italy, but intermittent enough where it didn’t interfere with our visit.

Barcelona, from what we were told by a tour guide, has about 3 million people in Barcelona and the surrounding area.  I don’t know if that number is accurate but it was definitely a very large city and very crowded with people.  I lost track of the number of languages I heard spoken while there.

So besides the size and number of people, I noticed that Barclonans love their public art.  Wherever we went there were statues and/or art installations throughout the city.  There were also numerous art museums scattered throughout the city.  We didn’t go in any of the museums because we were more focused on seeing the city itself, its architecture, and eating as much food as we could.  🤣. I don’t drink, but my traveling companions did, and they said all the Spanish wine they had while there was very tasty and very inexpensive.  Of all the countries we went to, and all the food we had, I enjoyed the Spanish tapas the most.  I enjoyed it so much, that within a week of returning back to the States, I was craving patatas bravas and garlic aioli so much that I found an excellent recipe on-line and made some myself.

Other things I noticed about Barcelona was the graffiti.  Every available surface was tagged or outright painted with words, symbols, cartoons, or murals.  Garage doors, utility boxes, street signs, etc. were covered, but noticeably the actual stone buildings weren’t painted. I like to believe they cherished the historical value of the buildings, or maybe there were severe penalties for graffiti on historic structures. Who knows? We had a traveling companion who had some minor mobility issues, so at one point we took one of those hop on, hop off buses to go around the entire city, get a lay of the land, then go back to see places we were particularly interested in. That turned our to be really helpful for our mental maps of how the city was laid out. We visited the Gothic Quarter, the Gaudy, La Boqueria open air market, had paella, croquettes, and foods we’d never heard of before, toured the beach area, and did a tapas tour/pub crawl with a group while we were there. That night was one of our best experiences. We had people from the US, India, Australia, and Hong Kong in our group. They were great people and so much fun to hang out with. They were so much fun that we hung out together after the tapas event, got kicked out of a crowded bar (a first for me), and found a bar on the beach and hung out talking and drinking until very late. We spent a few days in Barcelona before heading on to Nice, France next. That will be my next post.

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So this happened this weekend while my son and his girlfriend were visiting

I’m so happy for my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  They are well suited for each other.