Sunday, August 26, 2012
My brother, Garry, had arranged a short break in the Catalan capital along with his wife and sons. He suggested that we meet him there. It was all a bit fraught partly because we were just back from Egypt but moreso because it was an 1100km journey along toll motorways operated by bandits. We did it though and I'm glad we did.
We haven't been to Barcelona for maybe 10 years, certainly before we lived in Spain. The last time we were there we were made to feel very unwelcome by people determined to give us a bad time for trying to speak Castillian. The rivalry between Catalans and Spain is legendary. This time that wasn't so much of a problem. Written informatin was generally in Catalan but we were foreign so we were spoken to in English. It seems to me that English is becoming omnipresent.
We didn't see a lot of town. My family was staying on the Ramblas and we were in a basic hotel in Ciutat Vella. The only time we left that bit of the city was for a jolly up to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Notice the claim to nationhood even in the name of a museum). What we did see didn't wow us though. The town smelled of piss, the prices were high, service was indifferent, food was moderate, the streets were dirty, waiters warned us about possible thefts and it all felt a bit squalid. It compared badly with Madrid where we were a couple of days ago, with the peace of Culebrón and the compact friendliness of Cartagena. I suppose it's just us - getting older, more set in our ways - or maybe we were just a bit tired.