We were in Barcelona for six days, and it probably deserves at least two posts. When I was in Spain, I saw so much that was blog-worthy, but at this point, I’m ready to start talking about fiber again! So, grab a cup or glass of something, sit back, and wander through the Barcelona with me…
The bus from Bilbao had signs all over that we shouldn’t eat on the bus, in contrast to the other buses we were on. I think it was this bus that had 3 university students sitting just in front of us, and they kept me pretty well entertained. It was a young couple and a guy friend. And who ended up sitting together? The two guys, who never stopped talking. She slept for a bit.
We were in the next to last back seat, and at some point I moved to the very back, because it was very hot in the sun. Not long after, we took on three younger riders, whose seats (assigned) were in the back. They were actually pretty entertaining too. Clearly a very different accent, more local, less “educated”. But the youngest (maybe 13) was so curious about where he was, and the oldest (maybe 16) was giving him quite the geography and cultural education.
After many hours (at which point we were very hungry and thirsty), we pulled into a truck stop off the highway, in Zaragoza (lisp the z’s!)
It was a very busy place, and at the bar we had the most fabulous chicken and roasted red pepper sandwich, along with a cheap but tasty glass of wine. I think there was a full-service restaurant, as well as indoor sitting for the bar, and outside picnic tables, and I’m not sure what else. Car parking was under a metal shade. And, like in most places we visited, there were large school groups there.
Parts of the scenery between Bilbao and Zaragoza reminded me of the Badlands in North Dakota. And the hills right outside the truck stop were also fabulous.
We arrived late in the day, and tired, to a much smaller room than we had expected. It was, without doubt, the worst of our accommodations, and the second priciest (100 euros; the parador was only 40 euros more a night, and we got an incredible breakfast buffet with that). There was not room to walk on either side of the beds. My pillow looked like a sanitary pad. There wasn’t room to put both suitcases on something. And it was 75 steps from the street to our room.
We managed to use the ipad to call my friend Alba who was over at Llanarium‘s Stitch and Bitch. We were too tired to figure out how to get there before they closed, so she came and met us! And we went out for a lovely Indian dinner. I must’ve been sleep deprived, because I have no photos of this! She gave me the most lovely gift, yarn dyed by her friend Marga (you can also find her on etsy).
lace-weight baby alpaca and silk! yowza!
Honestly, I don’t remember the sequence of what we did in Barcelona. We were staying in the Raval neighborhood, which we learned (after we got there) is also known as Barcelonastan due to the many Pakistani immigrants living there. I think there were 10 halal butchers in the two or three blocks of Carrer Hospital (Hospital Street), as well as 5 vegetable/fruit markets and two pastry shops.
It was extremely noisy there. Our windows looked over about 5 dumpsters, and they got emptied twice during the night. The first night we thought the neighborhood was primarily Arabic (but it’s primarily Pakistani, with a large dose of Arabic), and so in the morning we exclaimed “and that was without alcohol???!!!!” There was lots of loud talking and arguing all night long, and about 5:30 am the women came out and yelled at the men, and the kids started yelling too. But the next night was worse, some guy yelling “help help” and the sounds of things crashing into dumpsters and “doctor doctor” (in English, though much of the rest was presumably in Urdu or who knows what). A morning or two later, I heard loud noises (8 am or so) on the street, and peeked out from the balcony. I think what was happening was pressure from outside the neighborhood, harassing the people who lived there. We got one hour sleep one night. And then I started wearing the earplugs. And life improved dramatically!
The first day was rainy and we took the funicular up to Montjuïc. We visited the Fundació Joan Miró and just wandered our way back down into the city. Miro’s art amuses me… it is playful and colorful (no photos allowed, check out the link). We had a great lunch at Le Font del Gat, where I learned the waiter was from Peru, and the diners next to us were from from Italy.
On the way back down into town, we stopped at the Caixa Forum, where they had a Goya and Delacroix (and others) exhibition. We saw Goya’s Clothed Maja/La Maja Vestida, which was fabulous, because at the Prado we saw the Nude Maja/La Maja Desnuda. In Madrid, I thought I liked the nude better, because she has such a lovely glow to her skin, but in Barcelona, I decided I like the clothed maja (gypsy) better… maybe it’s the glint of gold in the fabric, maybe it’s the suggestive tease.
We managed to visit La Bouqueria, but it was closing as we arrived and we never managed to get there when it was fully open (we arrived on Good Friday, I think). I was shocked at a stall that was selling dried mushrooms… yikes they are expensive! We must have some serious wealth stocked in jars at our house (dried porcini, reishi, chagga, black trumpets, bluets, hen of the woods, chicken of the woods, and more)… I recognized some of what we have in the market, most of it around 80 euros or more a kilo.
We walked over to La Barceloneta and I put my feet into a new body of water, the Mediterranean Sea!
The natural gas building was a lovely surprise, it was gorgeous. Hmmm… for some reason I thought Spain had banned hydrofracking , but I may be wrong. It’s a huge problem in NY and PA, and if you live there and don’t know about it, let me know, I’ll hook you up with a friend who can tell you a lot about this (and why it is a very bad idea).
View of Montjuïc in the photo with boats in the foreground. There’s a cable car that goes from Barceloneta to there, but we didn’t take it. The last photo is public art, La Cara de Barcelona, Face of Barcelona, by Roy Lichtenstein.
I think my favorite part of Barcelona was the Barri Gotic/Gothic Quarter. Here are a bunch of photos of this area from somebody else.
There are walls built by the Romans that are about 2000 years old!. The walls still stand and have been repaired in places.
We found a stone in Hebrew in an alley near the Ancient Synagogue. Here’s a link to the synagogue’s page. It is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe, and I thought I read that since the synagogue in Jerusalem was destroyed, it may be the oldest in the world. Apparently that is up for some debate. It was closed when we were there, and we didn’t get back to go for a service or a visit. I saw a great website while I was in Spain that showed images of the place as it was “rediscovered” (I think in the 1970′s) and as it has been restored (of course I can’t find them now).
Giant coat hanger art at Plaça de Sant Miquel
The Barcelona Franca Train Station, a lovely old-fashioned iron and glass rail station,
I think I have to save the rest for another post…
I am going to VT this weekend to hug baby goats! (and hang out with friends…)
The snow pile at work is still there.