Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hola, Barcelona!

My sister and I got back from Barcelona two weeks ago on Wednesday. On a second visit it loved up to my impression of being one of my favourite holiday destinations of last Summer.

We had a magnificent time, and took rather a few photos. The things I love about Barcelona boil down to the pace of things, the locals, the food, the shopping, the variety of local districts and architecture …

What impresses me about the locals, compared to England, is how relaxed the people are. People dress in a way that is distinctively European, yet very relaxed and summery: a kind of smart casual Australians have yet to quite master. Everyone’s also terribly good natured and charming towards bungling English speakers with phrase-book Spanish (the local language is actually Catalan, anyway).

And the food! The sister and I had lunch somewhere different every day, always trying (even if it involved ordering at random) the menu del dia. Our best score was the only place I deliberately went back to from last year: a little restaurant called Barcelonia behind the closed markets near the city park. Three excellent courses, including the best home-made strawberry ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, wine and coffee for 11 euro a head.

Other than eating, drinking a lot of beer, taking in a bit of local culture and lazing on the beach, I got some shopping in. I think my summer-wardrobe top-up is probably done after the acquisition of a couple of short-sleeved tops, a stripey shirt, some chocolate brown linen slacks with a white pin-stripe and some cheap Converse knock-offs.

I also developed a hankering to learn Spanish in the new academic year. Yes, yes, I know Catalan is rather different – but I made some progress in “menu Spanish” this year, and even once or twice got presented with the Spanish language guide for museums just by trying to say “Hello, one please” in Spanish. Encouraging.

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