Trip Start Sep 30, 2007
43Trip End Jan 08, 2008
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Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and don't even think about calling them Spanish. People speak Catalan and many distinguish themselves from the rest of Spain. Of course people understand Spanish and there are many similarities between the two, but it's an important distinction for Catalonians when looking back in history. I won't go into too much detail but when Francisco Franco came into power during the Spanish Civil War, Catalonians were suppressed in Franco's desire to unite all of Spain.
Geographically, Barcelona is quite like Los Angeles. It has the mountains and the beach and the weather is warm for the most part. There are big shopping malls, bars, restaurants, as well as ingenious architectures by Antonio Gaudi. Streets are always packed with people and it's busy everywhere at anytime. It's smaller than LA so it's that much easier to get around, especially with metro and buses. The city exudes energy and the people seem to feed off from it. Yet, there's something calm about the city that allows you to relax and take a break from your daily grind.
I stayed at my friend, Jaume's house, whom I met in London along with Xabi. If you remember one of my early posts from London, we stayed in the same hostel and we kept in touch. Jaume is a doctor in Barcelona and had a rough schedule but he went out of his way to do everything he could so that I'd be comfortable during my stay. People say there's nothing like southern hospitality but I beg to differ after spending a week here. Jaume introduced me to Pa Amb Tomaquet which is typical Catalan food and it's dangerously good. It's basically a toasted bread, spread with tomatoes, pinch of salt with olive oil, and top it with Jamon (Spanish Ham), cheese, or whatever your heart desires. So simple, yet, so good.
When weekend came around, it was time to check out the nightlife in Barcelona. Xabi joined us from Tarragona and we headed out to go see Chemical Brothers along with 15 other Catalonians. The show was incredible but the night didn't just stop there. When the concert ended at midnight, we went to a small bar to regroup and got more drinks. Afterwards, we headed to a club around 2am. The place was about 1/3 full when we got there, but by 3am, I was fighting for my spot on the floor. The night went on and the party continued until 6-7am. When we got out, there were people passing out flyers for afterhours which opens at 6am til 2pm. Unbelievable.
That was Friday night and the party carried on to Saturday night. I was exhausted and I had a plane to catch early morning but motivational speech from Xabi got me going and ended up staying out til 7am again. I've been told this is typical lifestyle in Barcelona and when I told them we have last call at 2am in LA, they all gave me this astonishing look and asked how people lived in LA.
I haven't even mentioned the Picasso house, Fundacio Joan Miro, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, the beach, and number of others that I've visited and saw. I now understood why so many people have been raving about the city and it was difficult for me to leave. I'd definitely come back here, perhaps during the summer to enjoy the festivities.
Three weeks and four cities later in Spain, I'm now back to square one and headed to a different country. This time, I'm going to a country where I know nothing about, so it should be very interesting...