We arrived in Barcelona the center of Catalonia, about a third of the size of Los Angeles, and made our way to our hotel. There is a rich history here in this town right on the Mediterranean. Myth has it that Hercules himself founded the city. It was occupied by the Romans in 15 BC and you can still see the ruins of the great wall that surrounded the city today.
After a little back and forth the Counts of Barcelona ruled the town in 800 AD and become increasingly independent from mother Spain (which really wasn’t Spain just yet.) There actually was a “Crown of Aragon” which I thought a very cool surname. The Aragon’s conquered a lot of stuff and ruled the western Mediterranean Sea in 1100’s. They became part of Spain and the marriage of the two crowns Aragon and Castile brought the decline of Barcelona in the 1400’s.
In 1640 there was a revolt against Spain (remember that they speak an entirely different language here… or rather did… they lost). The city had a huge rebirth with the 1992 Olympics and its both good and bad as it has become a haven for travelers and has become a tad crowded during the summer months.
The people moving around seem to never stop.
Mike and I walk from our hotel to the the Boqueria market of Barcelona which dates back from 1217, it was just a short distance from our hotel. It was overwhelming the color and smells and the people, both tourist and native Barcelonés.
But the color!!!!
Next we went to Picasso’s museum but it was very crowded. So instead we went to Els 4 Gats… this is a restaurant owned by famous artist Ramon Casas (here is a sefl portrait which hangs on the wall from 1890)
The place helped start the modernist movement. Picasso used to hang out there when he was very young. He got his first commercial gig doing the menu cover (still used) and his sketches are all over the walls. We had a glass of the house red and a few olives and made our way to the famous Casa Batilió architected by the genius Gaudi. We took a tour inside and I was incredibly surprised how awesome it was. He designed everything from doors to hinges. There is not one straight line inside the house (except for one room that looks like it could have been a theater.)
By this time we were ready for a nap so we made it to our hotel, slept, and then had a martini and watched the people go by and waited for our friend Martin.
Martin is one of our team leaders and while a decade older in years he is light years ahead of us in physical ability, at least on a bike. He took us into town along the subway to a small place to have the best crêpes I have ever had for dinner. I had the smoked duck and dates and a suzette for desert along with some great wine and later coffee.
We have 3 more days until our journey begins. Enough time to eat and drink and walk some more… as Bourdain would say, as travelers, not tourists. I hope to find the best suckling pig in Catalonia tonight. I will let you know tomorrow how it goes.