Monday, January 10, 2011

My New Favorite Place

Since December 28 I have been in Spain.   I started in southern Spain, Seville, then Cordoba, then Granada.  These are very old cities with old churches, mosques (the Moors lived here for 700 years), small, lovely plazas where even in January people are outside drinking the excellent coffee and exquisite chocolate they are famous for.

I spent my days walking around these cities and seeing buildings such as the Mezquita in Cordoba, a mosque that could hold 20,000 worshippers and the most beautiful building I have ever seen.  I also saw the Alhambra in Granada, a lovely 500 year old palace with gardens.   After about 10 days in these 3 cities, I came to Barcelona.

This is my new favorite city.  It has the 13th century neighborhoods of small winding streets and city walls, (where I am now staying), but also a great modern architectural scene, beautiful plazas everywhere to hang out in, interesting shops and better food that southern Spain.  Barcelona hosted the Olympics n 1992 and has fabulous infrastructure, buildings and neighborhoods like I have not see anywhere and is very progressive, still adding subway lines, new parks and maintaining the old things in a lovely condition.

With all the talk of the financial problems in Spain, I thought I would see some evidence of stress.  So far nothing.  People seem very prosperous, there are 800 Euro baby strollers everywhere, people seem to have lots of time and money to hang around cafes and lots of things to buy.  Of course, there is no need for cars in many parts of Spain and people often say they inherited their home, so there is not a lot of basic expenses built in. 

I had never heard of Antoni Gaudi, who is an architect who died in 1926.   But I love his work and have visited some of his buildings here.  There is a cathedral that he designed that has been under construction for over 100 years.  It is a people´s cathedral and is being built with contributions.  It had a couple of recesses when Fascists destroyed the plans and for other reasons, but it is plugging along.

Tomorrow evening I will take the bus to Madrid.  There is a bullet train that takes two hours and a half, but it is expensive.  I am taking the 9 hour bus.  This will I will not only save the bullet train fare, but I will sleep on the bus and not have to pay for a place to stay!

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