It is my last morning in Barcelona, this morning we head to Madrid. Google maps says I am in Spain, so Spanish is the language right? Don’t they speak Spanish in Mexico? Yet the signs and names here are mostly in Catalonian??? And thankfully most all speak English.
Catalonian, at least to my ear sounds a bit like Spanish, with a hint of French thrown in. That fits, since the old Principality of Catalonia spread into the south of France. The Principality is now, after a complicated history (check Wikipedia) an autonomous community of Spain. And there are a large number of folks who would like to see it become an autonomous nation once again, evidenced by the return of the language and the flying of the Catalonian flag.
The Spanish in Spain does not sound like the Spanish in Mexico. It seems to be a bit softer, and I think I hear some different phrases, but since my Spanish is muy pequeño it is hard for me to catch it all.
Barcelona is a big city, second largest in Spain, and like most large cities it is active. People stay up late, and the proliferation of cafés is testament to their love of talking with friends, I like that. And that is what I will remember about this city.
The architecture does live up to its reputation, though I must admit Gaudi is a bit too gaudy for me. Yet there are amazing buildings every time you turn around. The fútbol team is my favorite and it would have been amazing to see them play. The food is so wonderful, hams, sausages, tapas, cava…. But the placas (plazas in Spanish) are what I will remember most.
So my passport stamp says Spain, but I think I will remember Catalonia: independent, life-loving, beautiful people living in a wonderful place. I hope to return again, to dodge bicycles, motorbikes, and cars on narrow streets. Taste cava and anchovies in a small placa, sketch a cathedral, and watch the parade of interesting personalities that call themselves Catalonians.