I am on a high speed train heading from Barcelona to Madrid. My first week back in Spain was fantastic. Barcelona is enchanting. I learned a lot of Spanish in a week of intensive study and look forward to this coming week of study in Madrid.
I never had a chance to study abroad in college and 30 years later I am making up for it. It is an incredible learning experience on many levels. Barcelona is 2,000 years old, unlike Madrid, which was somewhat of an undistinguished city until the King Philip II moved the government from Toledo to Madrid in 1561.
There is so much to see and do in Barcelona. The city is rich in museums and buildings designed by Gaudi, parks, bars, cages, restaurants, cathedrals and magical little alleyways. Barcelona is also one of the world’s most densely populated cities. It is expensive, and the people of Cantaluna are very proud of their culture.
In addition to studying like mad, highlights of the week included touring Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece, which is only 60 percent completed. They expect to complete it by 2026 in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. I visited El Parc Guel and three houses that Gaudi designed. He was simply a genius. I am reading a biography of him in Spanish, which is a great way of learning the language and culture.
I found an outlet store named after Zabriskie Point and had the taxi stop and let me out so that I could photograph it. The museum of Cataluna was fascinating. The Museo Historio de La Ciutat is built over the largest underground Roman ruins in the world. I enjoyed walking through them.
I love art. It feeds my soul. Walking through the Picasso Museum and the Joan Miro Museum as well as the Museo National de Cataluna was like drinking from a fountain of culture. Listening to the audio guides in Spanish was also a great way to learn new worlds and attune my ear to Spanish sounds.
I am a foodie and ate the best flatbread style Catalan piazza on the planet. Crema Catalan rivals creme brule as a fantastic dessert. I enjoyed a flaming drink called Calmada, which is made with coffee beans and liquor.
Last night I watched in a bar as the world’s two best soccer teams – Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off in El Clasico, the great rivalry between these incredible teams. The country shuts down to watch it. We will post more photos from Barcelona on my blog this week, if you care to see them.
With love and prayers,