Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Way Tapas Was Meant to Be

Day 390
Barcelona City Tour

If you recall, we had a “tapas incident” way back in Slovakia on day 324. Chris had purchased some cured meat from Spain for the rock bottom price of $2 and we spent the next day resting in close proximity to a bathroom. Today we redeemed ourselves by going to a lively establishment in the heart of Barcelona. With the help of our friend Fernando, we enjoyed a “real” tapas experience.

We’re slowly changing our schedule to match the up late, sleep in culture of Spain. After breakfast at 11:30 we did some laundry and then headed into the city. We had our personal (and very gracious) tour guide driving us toward a very exciting afternoon in Barcelona. We had a few sights we wanted to see and were otherwise open to whatever Fernando could think of.
Barcelona is a city of over 1.5 million and is the second largest city in Spain. It covers just over 100 sq kilometers and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the southeast and the Collserola mountain range on the northwest. It’s the kind of city that looks very overwhelming from the outside. Fortunately, it is more than welcoming once you’re inside.
Aside from it being one of Europe’s principal ports and an important economic center, Barcelona has a rich history in the arts. One of the major attractions we wanted to see today was La Famalia Sagrada, a church that started construction in 1882 and is still not finished today. The structure was designed by the legendary artist, Antonio Gaudi. For forty years he worked on the project, even devoting the last 15 years of his life to it. It’s really hard to describe La Familia. If you know anything about Gaudi you know that his work was…unique.
Anyway, I should back up and describe the rest of the afternoon. Before we got to La Famalia Sagrada we had already seen some of the other highlights of Barcelona. Fernando was a most excellent host and guided us through the historical, cultural, and gastronomical aspects of the city. Memorable moments include the bustling, tree lined Las Ramblas and seafood paella with views of the ocean.
Our tour concluded with grand views from El Castell Montjunic (Castle Montjunic). Overlooking the ocean on one side and the city on the other, we were able to piece together our different stops on our personalized tour. It was a fitting end to a fantastic day.


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