The other side of Barcelona

Flaming Palm Tree

Flaming Palm Tree

If you listen to Kim, you might think that the world over here in Spain is Gaudi-shaped. I admit freely that Gaudi’s stuff is certainly cool, almost as cool as Dali, but if you look around, there were penty of other things to enjoy about Barcelona as well.

Starting at the Roanoke airport, they have a flaming palm tree sculpture. Even though Barcelona is at about the same latitude as Roanoke, Barcelona has real palm trees, and Roanoke only has the flaming metal variety.

Another thing you might notice is that you never see Kim in any of these pictures. Of course there is a great reason for that. That reason is that I’m a terrible picture taker for whatever reason. I bought

Wanna bite 'o burrito?

Wanna bite?

her a nice camera for her birthday, and so she uses it. Here she got me trying to share my burrito in the Atlanta airport. That burrito turns out to be a cherished moment. While the food here in Barcelona has been good, it has not been very substantial. I was telling Kim tonight that it seems like I spend a fair amount of money on food here, but it’s a bit like eating air. It seems to have no substance.

We tried to prepare for the food situation here by practicing on a tapas restaurant in Charlottesville. Tapas turns out to be an expensive way to approach meals, but once we figured out that “pulpo” means “octopus”, our tapas adventures became somewhat more satisfying. Of course we learned that at the aquarium rather than before we ordered the “pulpo”. “Pulp of what?” I asked. “Pescado?” “Si, si!!” So the waiter agreed, and I thought we had pulp of fish coming, not that I knew what that was either. We thought maybe ground fish, but no. It was octopus. With a lot of paprika. Somewhere inbetween spicy mushrooms and chewy bicycle tube rubber.

Me and Devon

Me and Devon

Here I am with Devon, another SolidWorks addict from California. Since we’re kind of on the food theme here, Devon and I are at the table in the hotel’s restaurant. Barcelona, and maybe all of Spain and Europe, seems to not believe in three things to the same extent that Americans believe in them: Water. Ice. and Air Conditioning. Water is always purchased here, and it is always bottled. The tap water is really an awful cocktail of who knows what. When you do get water, it is generally room temperature or very close to room tempurature, and it never comes with ice. Air conditioning as we know it in the US does not exist here. To some extent it’s a nice thing not to be blasted with frigid air when you come in from the heat and you’re a little sweaty, but there might be an inbetween kind of thing. I sweat a lot anyway, but here I find myself sweating even inside. We found several situations where it was cooler outside than inside. The halls of the hotel here are more than a little warm, and the rooms only cool down to a certain point. So when Devon and I are eating breakfast, I don’t have water, and I won’t drink the milk, which at room temperature, just doesn’t taste right to me.

Again on the food topic, as we went around downtown Barcelona on the tour bus, we saw an inordinate number of Pizza Huts. Of all of the possible food to export from the US, why this? We saw a few McDonalds, several Pizza Huts and I think one Burger King. Just about anywhere you went you could get a “hamburgesa y papas fritas”, but it just doesn’t seem right to get something like that here. It seemed common to have fried eggs on top of french fries. At least one small restaurant we ate at called this combination an “American” dish, which surprised us Americans.

Who needs turkey legs, who wants a pig leg?

Who needs turkey legs, anybody want a pig leg?

It’s easy to see that a chain like Outback or Applebees wouldn’t make it here. Spain seems to focus on ham products more than beef or chicken. Here is something we saw in a city trash can just along the street. You could find the whole pig leg in any deli, but we didn’t expect to see the hoof and all just sticking out of a trash can. I half expected to see people walking down the street gnawing on pig legs the way you might buy a turkey leg at a fair in the US.

As for the Gaudi architecture, in particular the Sagrada Familia, I only have two things to say:
staring up, mouth open

staring up, mouth open

staring up, mouth open

staring up, mouth open

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