|Battló House (with the spire)|
Mike's wanted to go back to Barcelona since we went there seven years ago. For our 30th anniversary, we took on a cruise that ended in Barcelona, and we just happened to be there for Feste de la Mercé. I had chosen that particular cruise because I'd majored in Spanish and, while I lived in Mexico for a summer semester, I had never gone to Spain. Mike really enjoyed Barcelona and the Mercé, and he wanted to experience it again.
When I was planning my summer in Bologna, Mike suggested that instead of coming to Italy, we go to Barcelona.
"You want to see Spain," he said to me.
"I *wanted* to see Spain," I replied. Long story short, we compromised. I went to Bologna, and then we went to Spain. It turned out to be less expensive for him to fly to Bologna first, so that's why he joined me in Italy before we went to Barcelona.
I thought I'd pass along five facts you might not know about Barcelona.
Gaudi, who also designed the renovation of the Batlló house (top photo), died after being hit by a street car.
2. After Spain colonized the Americas in the 17th century, they brought cocoa to Europe. Chocolate as a beverage was so important in most of Spain that Spaniards drank more of it than coffee. One popular breakfast item in Barcelona is churros with chocolate. While churros are not necessarily Spanish (Think 'Mexico.'), dipping them in molten chocolate is popular. Also popular is hot drinking chocolate which is nothing like hot chocolate in the states. Instead of milk flavored with chocolate powder, think of how a melted, dark chocolate bar would be.
"I don't get why people like foam," Mike says way too many times. "It doesn't taste like anything." I always roll my eyes because I'm a cappuccinolier (a sommelier of cappuccino).
"Actually," I always reply, "a good foam is flavorful."
"What does it taste like?" he finally asked me the other day.
"Warm whipped cream," I answered.
"I think they put something extra in your cappuccino," he replied.
|Sign in Catalan|
Three days before we arrived, people held a huge demonstration in Barcelona requesting a referendum on independence from Spain. It was so large that the US State Department sent us a notice that the demonstration was going to happen and that we should stay away if we were in town at that time. (Side note; I always register with the State Department when we go out of the country so that, in a crisis or emergency, they know we are somewhere.)
|Sardana, Catalan folk dance|
"How are you doing with the Spanish and Italian?" Mike asked me last week.
"How do I know?" I snipped. "With the Catalan thrown in, my head is constantly whirling."
If you're interested in seeing a Catalan folk dance, click here and here. The first is the Sardana (photo above). The second is the Bastoner, a dance done with sticks.
"Does this taste right to you?" Mike wanted to know.
"It tastes like brown water." I was glad it was hot, though since that morning was pretty cool. "I might be too used to Italian coffee now, though."
"In a way, maybe," he said, "but I don't think it tastes right."
|Just like home|
Imagine my surprise when I saw that Starbucks was serving AMERICAN pancakes (above). I walked over to the counter to see what they looked like (below).
"Their pancakes are probably worse than their coffee," I told Mike. "They look like toaster pancakes."
One Starbucks is located in a historic building in the Barri Gotic, the old Gothic district of the city. We went to that one two or three times, and Mike waved to passers-by. He finally got a few people to wave back.
"I think they were so annoyed they decided they had to wave back just to get me to stop," he said.
|That guy from Las Vegas is a friendly fellow.|
He is something else, I tell you. People are probably still talking.