Barcelona: Like Chocolate, but with Raspberries

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Harpist busker. Ahhh, Barcelona.

My sister told me I would love Barcelona. She said it's like Paris, but in Spain. Which is like saying it's like chocolate, but with raspberries. The one can only be improved by the other. I had arrived prepared to barricade myself in our rented flat and refuse to leave the city, ever. 

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Our street in Las Ramblas

And I did love Barcelona, though I will say that by the end of our week's stay I was ready to leave it. But it's not fair to judge such a complicated and lovely city while staying in its most touristy neighborhood in high summer. I want to go back again and stay in a place that feels more like a real neighborhood. I want to go in spring or fall, when people who actually live in Barcelona are on the streets, going about their everyday business.

Come on up, I'll show you our flat.

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The stairs!

We rented a top floor apartment, which in our case was the 5th floor. This being Europe, the 5th floor is actually the 6th floor, since the 1st floor is 0. And in this building, there was half a flight up from the street level to get to 0 level, so ... you get the idea. It was a long haul! But it was worth it.

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The view from the bedroom window

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The benevolent robot skyscraper down the block

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Chimney tower of a nearby Gaudi building, seen from our bedroom window.

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The terrace, where we ate, drank, read, wrote, relaxed.

While in Barcelona, we wanted to relax, cook and eat well, read, drink great wine, and just decompress. There were some tourist things we wanted to do, but mostly, after several uninterrupted months in the Magic Kingdom, we just needed a sanity break. This was perfect.

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La Boqueria

Boca is the Spanish word for mouth, and La Boqueria is a food market that dates back to the 1200s. It was just a few blocks from our place, so this is where we did all of our food shopping.

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Seafood at La Boqueria

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Donut peaches and cherries, home from La Boqueria and ready to be washed ... then devoured.

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Tiny, sweet tomatoes

We sat around in our flat and ate a lot. We also sat around other places and ate a lot.

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Lunch spot next to MACBA

We stopped eating long enough to tour the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA). This was interesting mostly for the exhibit about a groovy "Instant City" in Ibiza that was handmade by stapling together panels of vinyl or canvas and inflating them into giant wormlike passages and central domes. Museum visitors could sit in bean bag chairs at low tables and learn more about the project, as Jimi Hendrix and The Doors blasted through the sound system. 

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Giant chess match

We walked through a courtyard on the way back from the museum and came upon a big chess game in progress.

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La Seu, began in the 13th century; finished in the 20th.

On another outing, we went to the Barrio Gotic to see the cathedral and fragments of the aqueduct that used to bring water to the old city.

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Cheerful unicorn gargoyle at La Seu

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Cow gargoyle, looking like a Holstein thanks to the bird droppings.

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Aqueduct fragment

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Picasso facade and Le Seu

On the facing side of the plaza in front of La Seu sits Barcelona's School of Architecture, with a facade designed by Picasso. On the same block as the School of Architecture there was a great shoe store. Gothic cathedral, aqueduct, Picasso frieze, SHOES! A friend told me I had to get some La Natura Lista shoes, one of several great Spanish brands. This store had 'em, but none in my size. Life is cruel. However, they did have a pair of excellent La Natura Lista shoes in my husband's size, and he got a pair. We celebrated by going to a cafe. Of course.