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Barcelona 11 May 2016

1067 : 992

All’s Well That Ends Well

After a wee hour freak out and a few hours of sleep, we connected with our host's agent Viviana this morning, and arranged to meet her at our apartment, five floors up in a stately old pile on the edge of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Our hotel shuttled us to the foot of Las Ramblas, and we dragged our bags a mile across the Quarter's bumpy pavement  to meet her.

Viviana showed us how to open the giant barred door, the double doors of the ancient art nouveau elevator, warned us always to close them or "the neighbors get mad." In a six story building with 10 foot ceilings, you appreciate the elevator, especially if you're lugging your belongings.

Our plan is to spend a day taking root, probably going out to find dinner, but otherwise breathing deep and settling into the routines of life away from home.

<p>the view out our apartment window</p>

the view out our apartment window

1068 : 987
<p>a typical Barri Gotíc Street</p>

a typical Barri Gotíc Street

The Barri Gotíc is mostly pedestrianized. It doesn't much matter, because the streets are too narrow for cars. Las Ramblas is a windy wide street that used to be the city's western wall back in gothic times. We are situated next to the eastern wall of the city, visible in the image above on the right. The spire in the background belongs to Barcelona's cathedral.

After a nap and tea, in the late afternoon, we ventured back out across the Barri Gotíc to Las Ramblas, where we plunged into La Boqueria, Barcelona's wonderful market. Many of the stalls offering ready-to-eat foods were still open, and the whole area was mobbed with people.

We are getting more into the traveling spirit, relaxing into the unique pace and texture of Europe and, particularly, Catalunya. I guess it doesn't take us long, once the place comes into focus. Perhaps that's why travel is so hard: no sooner have you begun to feel the rhythm, than it changes.

1069 : 976

At this time of day, Las Ramblas is awash in people. So many of them are tourists, from all over, even from Spain, and the babble of languages is amazing. A very British voice remarks, "this place is really busy!" Of course this attracts the touristic marketers selling everything from little plastic monkeys from Taiwan that make a silly noise to crêpes and goufres (waffles). People walk slowly, partly because its crowded, and partly because they're absorbing the sights. 

Here, as everywhere touristic, the smart?phones are a plague, making their owners even stupider than cars do. Someone will be walking along in a crowd, and then stop suddenly, arm out-thrust, to take a selfie. The people behind them swerve, clump up, bump into each other ...the western idea of personal space is much reduced here.

<p>Las Ramblas during the paseo</p>

Las Ramblas during the paseo

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Back on a side street, a pinxos restaurant beckoned to us, and we were seated in a corner with a convenient mirror so we could see everyone. Along one wall, a triple layer spread of tapas, called pinxos (pinch-os) in Catalan is arrayed. "Take what you like, but save the sticks. Each one is 1.95€."

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