April 29, 2011, Barcelona
ENJOYING A SECOND beer at an outdoor cafe. My first beer was accompanied by a jamón sandwich, which has become my favorite food in this country. That and paella, although paella is a distant second. This place is in the Dreta De part of the city, an upscale area filled with expensive shops, office buildings and apartment buildings. Sort of what Houston’s Galleria area would be if the Galleria had any character. Or pedestrian traffic. The wide tree-lined streets remind me of Paris.
The weather is perfect although it looked a bit iffy this morning. Rain.
I didn’t do much today except into a new hotel (I only had enough Starwood Hotel points for two nights at the glorious Le Meridien) and walk over to see Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia. I won’t even attempt to describe it for you. I’ll just echo the words of a tour guide to his group, “Its incredible with a capital I.”
Sitting here, I noticed that I’m half a block away from. Another Gaudí masterpiece, the Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera (the rock quarry), so I’ll go see it when I finish my beer and head back to the hotel for a rest.
Because I had to check out of the first hotel around noon, I couldn’t go very far, so I just moved around along the side streets of La Rambla, the main tourist drag. When it started raining, I picked up a sandwich (jamón, of course) and headed back to the hotel to watch the wedding. Yeah, that one. It was not bad. Too many damn hymns. Too many prayers and readings and sermons. The royals did OK, but I was disappointed that not a single one of them took out a cell phone to take a picture. The hats were a hoot. The bride was beautiful but not stunningly so. Her dress was OK andI’m glad she didn’t try to compete with Diana’s gaudy circus tent of a dress. Her hair and veil didn’t do her any favors. Loved Anderson Cooper for insisting that some of the royals were riding on a bus to the big church after one of the CNN Brits proclaimed haughtily that they weren’t buses but rather, “motor coaches.”
I LOVE BARCELONA. After Granada, it’s my favorite Spanish city so far. Unfortunately, it’s overrun by tourists. They’re everywhere, damn them.
The old sections of the city are much more intriguing, with a lot more opportunities for good photos than any of the other places I’ve visited in Spain. If I don’t leave here with some very good photos, I’ll have no one but myself to blame. The Boqueria food market, which my guidebook tells me is Europe’s largest, is a feast for all the senses. And La Sagrada Familia is the most beautiful church anywhere, even in its unfinished state. I almost talked myself out of standing in line to buy a ticket to go in. What a mistake that would have been. I won’t even attempt to describe what I saw or felt in there because I couldn’t do it justice. I just don’t have the words to describe the experience. It’s that good.
There’s a lot to see here and I’ve only seen a tiny bit. Fortunately I have two more full days to explore.