Friday, July 11, 2008

Barcelona, Day 1

Barcelona is Spanish for ALIVE! 

We arrived at about 1:00 p.m. and after getting our hotel rooms, made our way to the Plaça de Catalunya on a 20 minute train ride. We decided to spend most of our time in the Old City.

Our two part focal points were Las Ramblas, the huge people watching pedestrian street that runs from the Plaça de Catalunya down to the harbor and the nearby Barri Gotic or Gothic Quarter.

The love their heroines in Barcelona

This one is in Placa de Catalunya and was the first one we saw as we popped out of the underground train station.

We decided to attack the Barri Gotic first.

This fountain was once a freestanding well that served as the last watering stop before you left Barcelona until the 17th Century.

Camarillo's Hap Rapp Track Meet and the Vietnam War

It is a little known fact that Camarillo's Annual Hap Rapp Track Meet for school kid's up to the 8th grade had to be moved in 1969 to Barcelona for fear of terrorist attack during the frenzy of the Vietnam War protests.

Here, in this 1969 archive photo, we see the FitzGerald brothers toeing the line for the 100 yard dash in Barcelona. Tom, on the left, is in the 5th grade, and Brian is in the 7th grade already experimenting with cutting edge starting techniques.

This St. Pius X in The Catedral de Barcelona for those of you keeping score.

I took his name at my Confirmation and so did our son Michael.

The Catedral's finely carved 15th Century Choir

I have found that they love St. George all over Europe.

Santa Clara on the far left, St. Catherine in the middle and Catania's own St. Agatha on the top right.

Bottom right saint didn't ring a bell.

A close up look of the Choir carvings

The Catedral's Cloister.

The Cloister's Guard Geese

The patron saint of Barcelona is St. Eulalia, who at the age of 13, was tortured 13 times by the Romans for her faith before finally being crucified on an X-shaped cross.

Years later the monks inhabiting the Catedral had 13 geese in St. Eulalia's honor patrol the Cloister. If anyone entered they would start honking thus alerting the monks of impending danger. They still have 13 on patrol to this day and nobody has stolen the Catedral yet!.

The disturbing Placa Sant Felip Neri

This quaint little square now serves as a playground for young children like you see here.

The disturbing part is that all the pock marks you see on the church's walls were caused by bomb damage from the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930's.

As I've traveled throughout Europe I keep being sobered up by the fact that all this beauty has also been the scene of some of mankind's worst moments.
Las Ramblas

This one mile walk is heaven on earth for people watchers and I must admit that there is something about Spanish women that I really like.

Tapas, Tapas, Tapas...

Barcelona is famed for their tapas bars, who were we to argue.

We stepped into the Taverna Basca Irati to try out their menu of over 40 different tapas seen on the bar here.

Here you grab a plate and serve yourself on the honor system. How do they know what you owe?

By the toothpicks

They gave us this one plate for the three of us and we had at it. The honor system part of this bargain was that each tapas was skewered with a toothpick and that we would not throw away a toothpick, instead leaving them on our plate to be counted when we were ready to leave.

Looks like we ate 17 items between us and were they ever delicious!


After the tapas, you just have to try some local desserts don't you?

The Art Noveau Escriba Cafe, opened in 1820, worked for us with a great selection of chocolates and pastries.

La Boqueria

This produce and meat market has everything you could want and then some.

Is this a fruit stand or a work of art?

After another long and exciting day, we made our way back to the hotel via train. Our first day in Barcelona was everything we expected it to be.

Barcelona is a very vibrant city that I would rank right up there with Prague as one of my two favorite cities in Europe to date.

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