Sunday, June 29, 2008


My first impression of Barcelona was clouded by the fact that I stumbled into it at 8 am on a Sunday, after having slept very little in my train sleeping compartment. I don´t know if it was the motion that kept me awake, or simply the old man who stumbled in about 2 am and insisted on talking to everyone, only to fall out of a compartment about 5 feet off the ground in the middle of the night. Whatever it was, I didn´t sleep well. My hostel is right on the Las Ramblas strip, which empties into the harbor after about 8 blocks. The location couldn´t be better, but the problem is that this place is a swimming sea of tourists.

I got coffee at a cafe for breakfast (I couldn´t check in until 1 PM) and the next thing I knew, ever seat around me was filled with snickering tourists from the midwest, speaking in accents that make them sound as if education was as foreign to them as the idea of attempting to speak to someone, anyone, in Spanish. I know it´s hard to jump into a language, but the menu is printed in English AND Spanish, so you pretty much have it spelled out for you. I know you can read the Spanish part, because when the waiter is gone you whisper to your husband "eggs...huevos, toast....tostada..." and then giggle like a child as if to say "Isn´t their language just so cute?". This probably played a large part in my waiter stiffing me for my dollar change, assuming that I was unaware of the tipping practices in Spain. It also probably explains why my coffee and toast was eight Euros.

But I must say, despite the tourist vibe, the city is beautiful, with wonderful Gothic architecture everywhere. I hit the port and strolled down the boardwalk that leads to a floating shopping mall, huge movie theater and a large aquarium. I looked into the water to see fish, about a foot and a half long, swimming in large schools and a tennis ball sized jellyfish (Medusa in Spanish).

Tonight, despite being dead tired, I want to try and go out to a restaurant and watch the game. Spain is in the finals of the Eurocup against Germany. Germany is favored to win, but Spain beat them just a week or so ago, and if they win tonight, I expect all hell will break loose. It has been such an exciting spectacle to watch Spain advance this far in the Cup, as every resident of the country celebrates each victory.

Tomorrow it is the open vegetable and fish market, then I will dive into the Mediterranean Sea, and finish the day with a fine meal. Tuesday I plan to go to the aquarium as I cannot resist it´s treasures of the sea, and I have not really splurged on much this trip (minus piglett), and aquariums are sort of my thing. Speaking of, I am still fascinated by "20,000 Leagues", which it turns about, is basically documenting the adventures of a naturalist of the sea. The whole motivation for the Dr. staying with his captor for life on board the Nautilus, is because he has a chance to see so much underwater wildlife in it´s native habitat, something unknown to people in the 19th century. It´s absolutely fascinating as this is the bulk of the ficionalized diary entries in the novel. A truly beautiful book.

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