Sunday, January 22, 2006

Things were much better the rest of this week. Once I rested up my friends started taking me beyond the apartment to see some sights. Thursday we started with downtown Barcelona which is very much set up for pedestrians. A train will take you into the city from nearby towns like Sant Cougat where Philippe and Sandra live but it is always crowded so we don't expect to get seats. Once in the city I was very glad to have Sandra with me because she has learned quite a bit about the history so it was like having my own personal your guide. I was overloaded that day with historic building after historic building as well as all the shops, the market, the people, the language (Catalan not Spanish) and all the tiny little things that were pointed out to me like the gargoyles on the walls and the remains of an old Roman aqueduct.

Friday was the Catalan art gallery which is in a building that was built for the 1929 worlds fair. It is also the same area where they had the Olympic games. Near by is a little village that was also put together for the worlds fair. It was built to show all kinds of buildings from around Spain and now is used for artists shops and restaurants.

Yesterday we took a drive north into the mountains. The first stop was the ruins of an Iberian town that was dug up by archaeologists over the last few decades. They figure it was built around 500 BC. I really enjoyed it but I have noticed that almost none of the signs here are in English so I need a lot of translation.

After that we drove to a little town by the sea just below the French border where we had lunch. I am trying to be adventurous and eating new things and it was in this town that I was introduced to a dish called paella (I think). It is rice cooked with meat and seafood so I tried muscle, squid and crayfish for the first time. It's a good thing I am no longer a vegetarian.

Above that town is a mountain with a little road winding up to the top. When the Christians were hiding from the Arabs back in the 900's the built a monastery up there called Sant Pere de Rodes. It is no longer in use but they have restored it for the public to visit so we spent the rest of the day there. This was definitely not the sort of thing I would see back home! It was huge and may as well have been a fortress with the thick stone walls. The inside of the church walls used to be painted with pictures of saints and Bible figures but they were getting ruined there so they have been removed but I had already seen what was left of them when I went to the art gallery.

This, being Sunday in a good Catholic country, was a day of rest. I think it would have been anyway. We needed a break.

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