Rachel felt way better today, hooray!
We got up and went out for breakfast again. There doesn’t seem to be much variance between the cafes and restaurants here. Most of them seem to offer the same pastries and bocadillas (submarine sandwiches) and a lot of them literally have the same menus; paella, pasta, pizza and breakfast.
We tried to hit up the comic book shop, but almost everything is closed on Sundays. There was no indication of that on the door, it said they open at 10:30.
Rachel had a nap so I went out for a run and it was awesome! I love exercise! In New Zealand, when I arrived at a new town, I’d often go for a run through all the streets and make a mental map of places to walk by later and actually check out.
I ran over to the building that looks like a giant torpedo. Apparently, it even lights up the evening. I stopped at a music centre on the way that had interactive booths set up outside about the sounds of the mediterranean. There was one screen that showed a video of someone’s vocal chords moving as they sang. It looked like a creature from Alien, just waiting for something gross to crawl out of the opening.
Many of the parks here have public ping pong tables!
I woke Rachel and we wandered over to the Primavera Hostel for a Couchsurfing meetup. It was a photography tour hosted by Michel, a local Barcelonian. There was a good mix of people, folks from Iran, Sri Lanka, Serbia, the US, England, Germany, Japan, Austria, Mexico, and two other locals. It was so fun! I just brought my GoPro to take pictures with in the blind, since I didn’t have it connected to my phone.
I really enjoyed chatting with Carlota, who is from Barcelona. She said it was interesting seeing her city through the eyes of a tourist. She was curious to know Michel’s secret spots in the city worth visiting. She spoke very good English, and of course is fluent in Catalan and Spanish, with some French and is learning German. She’s going to school for aeronautical engineering and business administration. She seemed well educated and was very attentive and genuinely interested when we chatted.
She gave me some background information about the political vote that was occurring that day. It had to do with two political parties that were uniting to move forward in their goal of independencia, or independence from Spain. A take on the Cuban flag, there many independencia flags around the city, from local shops to hanging from apartment windows and balconies, or even on T-shirts. It has the four red stripes on the yellow background, which is Catalonia’s flag, with a blue triangle and white star.
Carlota had voted for yes, not necessarily because she wants Catalonia to separate from Spain, but more as political leverage to force the Spanish government to negotiate. Catalonia is currently the economic engine in Spain and a lot of the money they bring in is sent to Madrid with not much in return (we looked online when we got home and “junt pel si,” meaning together for yes, did get voted in). I found it interesting as it is similar to Quebec wanting to separate from Canada, which I hope never happens.
Cynthia, who was the short feisty Mexican woman, is here on an internship. She was telling Rachel that they do not hire foreign workers, so it was extremely unlikely that her internship would lead her to a job in Barcelona. She did not realize before she came that Catalan was the primary language here and had a hard time when she first arrived.
I had never heard of Catalan until I got a book out of the library on Spain in preparation for this trip. Knowing a miniscule amount of Spanish hasn’t helped very much in being here, I can’t tell the difference between Catalan and Spanish. On the Aerobus, a recorded woman welcomes you first in Catalan, then in Spanish, and finally in English. Many things at tourist spots have those three translations. Someone was telling me that grammatically, Catalans is quite different from Spanish.
I chatted with Kathrin from Germany quite a bit. I tried to pronounce her name with the German accent but I failed miserably. It just sounded like I had a hairball in my throat, ha! She had lived in New Zealand for 6 months, so I was very happy to chat with her about that.
I told the Austrian that I knew next to nothing about her country, except that that’s where Vienna is. I usually feel like quite an ignorant person when I go traveling and talk to people from all over the world. I don’t know where a lot of countries even are on the map, let alone anything about their culture or way of life. It doesn’t seem warranted for them to be offended, but that’s sometimes the response I interpret. I need history lessons! Then again, I don’t even remember much of Canada’s story, I learned that shit in grade 5. I should probably start with that.
Anyhow, the photography tour was great. We finished on the top of a hill that overlooks the city, in a park called El Turó de la Rovira. It is more of a local hang out than a tourist destination.
Afterwards, we had planned to go see a flamenco show, but the photography tour went a bit later than expected, and we were starving. So we went for paella at the same pasta place we’d been to yesterday. Sergio, our waiter, was happy to see us again. He didn’t speak much English, but asked me if I was writing about him in my book. We were the last table and he was packing up around us, saying “tranquilo, tranquilo,” and bringing his arms down as if to slow us. We ended up slamming the last of our sangria and heading to Plaça Espanya.
Font Màgica de Montjuïc, or the magic fountains of Montjuic, play music as the fountains spur into life, lit up with many different colours. It was designed in 1929 for the International Exhibition. It is situated in front of the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
Our plan beyond this was to go back and nap for a bit before heading out to the full moon party and lunar eclipse. Rachel’s stomach was in a horrible knot, and then she started retching. It was awful. Finally feeling better from being sick all week, only to get food poisoning. We didn’t eat paella again.