Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain

Bevingut a Catalunya: Barcelona

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With only 15 days remaining until I leave Spain for America, I’ve been traveling a fair amount. I want to make the most of the weeks I have left. But I’m really fortunate to have travelled pretty extensively within Spain. I’ve been to Madrid, Toledo, Alicante, Valencia, Altea, Granada, Murcia and Santiago de Compostela.

But until today, there was once place I had yet to check off my list. “Go to Barcelona!” urged my Spanish friends. “Go to Barcelona!” urged my fellow students. “Go to Barcelona!” urged the program director. So on Monday, I went ahead with two friends and went to Barcelona. It’s a good week to travel, because this week there were two Spanish national holidays: Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) and Día de la Inmaculada (Day of the Immaculate Conception). I didn’t even have to miss class.

A little about Barcelona: it’s the capital city of Cataluña, one of Spain’s wealthiest autonomous communities. The Catalán people have a long tradition of fierce nationalism; this is not surprising, since their language, culture, and economy have been very different from the rest of the country for centuries. The city is absolutely beautiful, due in large part to the Modernist architectural masterpieces that dot the cityscape.

We stayed at a fantastic hostel — the other guests were very friendly, and the owner showed us how to make paella and sangria! We saw a large part of the city, although we had to hop one of those horribly tacky double-decker tourist buses in order to do so. Some highlights included the city’s cathedral, the Gothic Quarter, and several of Gaudi’s buildings (including, of course, La Sagrada Familia). We cruised past the huge stadium where FC Barcelona (or Barça) plays. We explored Parque Güell, Parque de la Ciutadella, and a bit of the Barcelona nightlife.

Two interesting side notes before I get to the fun stuff (pictures). First, Barcelona is apparently home to legions of very skilled pickpockets. There is very little violent crime, but plenty of people lose their phones and wallets without ever being the wiser. Knowing this, I was very aware of my surroundings while in Barcelona — nonetheless, I actually had a close call. I was walking around in an outdoor market, and as I was passing a small Christmas tree display, one of the trees suddenly fell over. I thought I had somehow kicked it, and I bent over to pick it back up and apologize to the owner, who shrugged. When I stood up, I noticed that my phone was about 90 percent out of my front right pocket. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but I had checked that pocket literally seconds before and the phone was seated securely at the bottom of the pocket. And I don’t think I kicked that tree, so I think I got very lucky.

The other thing is that Barcelona has a weird obsession with figurines of people defecating. Literally every tourist store you go into has little wooden, plastic, or ceramic statues of people squatting down with their pants down. The artistic subjects include the new president, Manuel Rajoy, George Bush, Barack Obama, Spiderman, and even Hello Kitty. I ask a lady selling them what the deal is with the crapping figurines is, and she tells me they bring good luck. I didn’t buy any.

You can click on this one to see a larger version!


Written by Lee

December 8, 2011 at 13:04

Posted in Spain

One Response

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  1. Great photos!

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