When I look at my list of things I like in a city, Barcelona has it all:
- Public transit -- an extensive Metro system, trams, and buses galore. There are also a lot of taxis which are not super expensive.
- Active arts community -- It helps that so many artists made their home here at some point and that Gaudí has made a major stamp on the architecture here (you'll hear more about him in a future post). Public art appears in even the most unlikely of places. And there seems to be exhibits and productions continually.
- Fantastic cafés and restaurants -- Hello tapas and sangria!
- Great public park spaces, which happen to include urban beaches on the Mediterranean.
- Good sports facilities -- It was host to the 1992 Olympics and good a boost to its sporting infrastructure. Plus it has Camp Nuo, home of one of the best soccer teams in the world and some of the best soccer players in the world including Lionel Messi.
|Not the best photo, but when you're close enough to get even a blurry photo of Messi you show it off with pride.|
And to top it off, Barcelona is safe. During the day, there wasn't one area we were told to avoid. Yes, there are pickpockets everywhere, especially in the tourist areas. But the pickpockets are only cunning and sneaky and just take what they can off of you without you knowing. I totally prefer that to being held up at knife point, or physically mugged. I almost feel that if the pickpocket is so good that he can succeed unnoticed, he almost deserves his prize. Clearly that is spoken from the mouth of someone who didn't actually get pick pocketed. Undoubtedly, I'd have a different view if I'd fallen victim to a sly and cunning opportunist.
There is also this fantastic nationalist pride of the Catalans who would like to separate from Spain. Of course, the Catalan flag is everywhere, but so too is the Catalan separatist flag. It hangs from a lot of windows. And this is an admission of one of our photo fails. We have hundreds of photos from Barcelona, and I have a lot of the streets, people on the streets, the kids and Kerry walking down the street, and yet not one of these photos includes a separatist flag hanging from window. Not one. Proof that even away from the comforts of home things quickly become normal and all too easy to overlook.
There is so much more to be found and seen in Barcelona. Expect further posts soon....