Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunshine and Sangria

I should be spending this post writing at length about my cultural experience in Barcelona, all the beautiful Gaudi buildings I saw, the quaint Gothic quarter we were staying in, all the wonderful food I ate (and I will come to that), but in truth, my overwhelming highlight in Barcelona was this:

I haven't been to the beach since I left Australia, so its been 10 long months. My travelling companion and fellow temporary Londoner Emmalene and I went into throes of excitement at this sight, and spent most of a very lazy day lounging at one of the beach bars eating olives and drinking sangria.

It was inexpressibly good to be out in the sun and at the beach again. Especially since it is freezing in London right now and dark by 4.30 pm.... but I'm getting off topic.

Back to Barcelona.

I think that the best thing to ever happen to Barcelona was an architect, Antoni Gaudi. It isn't really possible to explain his architecture, you have to see it for yourself:

Gaudi's masterpiece is the Sagrada Familia, which construction began on in 1882 and it is nowhere near finished. The inside will be just incredible when it is finally completed - the columns of the church are all like tree trunks and the vaulted ceilings are made of leaves. What amazed me about all Gaudi's architecture was how functional it was. Everything had a practical as well as an aesthetic purpose, and a lot of things he designed were so innovative. I could go on about him all day.

Here is me, on top of La Pedrera, one of Gaudi's apartment blocks, with the Sagrada Familia in the background (I'm suffering a major case of squinty eye, but I was so thankful to have sun, I didn't care):

I've had a request from mtk to provide detail as regards the food. Well, I'm a born snacker, (unfortunately), so the Spanish diet of tapas suits me dangerously well. Despite tapas not really being traditional Catalan cuisine, there was an awful lot of it in Barcelona, which you could buy for a few Euro a plate. Amongst other dishes I tried some delicious fried sardines, but what I was determined to sample was a plate of jamon from one of the Grandpa bars that had legs of cured ham strung up from the ceiling. So I did just that. Here's me proudly sitting with my plate of meat:

Well, I got my comeuppance for that little culinary adventure. I felt nauseous for the next three days, which I attributed initially to the jamon, then to too much cava (champagne, entirely self inflicted), then to anxiety about the outcome of a job interview, and then the cursed jamon again.

We also managed to get to the main drag, La Rambla, which had some of the most impressive statue people I've ever seen. Normally statue performers annoy the bejesus out of me, but they seemed to go the extra mile in Barcelona:

All in all, it was a lovely little break, and it meant a lot to me to travel to a city that my family had once had to cancel a trip to when I was kid. I felt like I had finally conquered the last part of that long lost holiday (now Tori and Jeremy - you have to do it too!) Muchos gracias must also go to Emmalene, who was a great travelling partner and was very patient with having to do all the ordering and such for both of us, even if all of our travelling 'mug shots' had squinty eye and ended up getting cut off on at least one angle: