Tuesday, September 21, 2010

less psycho thoughts on Barcelona

O Internet, how excellent you are! Yesterday I started researching the upcoming jaunt to Barcelona (unfortunately a surfeit of information probably led to yesterday's outburst of paranoia); this morning I read most of the section in my Lonely Planet (skipping the bits that sounded boring and the beach stuff -- it's too damn cold to go to the beach. Also, what on earth would I do with my stuff while I was there?)

(My big upturn in mood today may have to do with the fact that I felt really overwhelmed by all the not-so-great possibilities when I got home from work yesterday and so went to bed at 8:30 PM. Since I woke up at 6:30, that makes. . . uh. . . ten hours of sleep. Yes, I am refreshed. Also I checked and found that a locker-with-lock is INCLUDED in my hostel in Barcelona, which also makes me more optimistic.)

Wikitravel has the basics on Barcelona, including some on the different districts, such as Ciutat Vella (Ciudad Vieja, OR Old City argh I will never get a hold on one language before another one sneaks up and bites me), the medieval quarter, and the 19th century development L'Eixample. (Catalan is somewhere between French, Italian, and Spanish, as Catalonia is sort of equidistant between all there. I'm going to guess it has more Spanish loanwords than loanwords from the other two, just because it's been dominated by Spanish-speaking governments for 200 years or so.)

The best of the safety information I found is this. I'm always a little worried about being mugged (but I can avoid deserted areas), and I'm still specifically worried about having the strap on my bag cut, the bottom slashed, or my pocket slashed (not the least because I personally doubt that someone could slash the pocket on my close-fitting jeans without slashing me too. I'm not sure whether this means it's less likely to happen or that I should be glad I've had a tetanus shot recently.) But the rest of the precautions on this list are all things I do anyway or things that won't be super difficult to do -- like keeping an extra copy of my passport and remembering to go inside a store or cafe before checking my maps. (Apparently "undercover police" is a common scam, so I looked up what the Barcelona police actually wear -- they look just about like Madrid police.) (Moral of story, in all of the scam/distraction thievery explanations: There is usually not a good reason for someone you don't know to initiate contact with you.)

Also in a preparatory mindset, I think I will go ahead and buy the Barcelona Card. The convenience of included transportation is nice, and I see at least four or five attractions included on the list that I want to visit.

I've determined what sorts of transportation are available from the airport (barring construction like in Paris :P, but then they had replacement shuttle buses), though I still have to check out a map of said airport a little more carefully (I'm okay familiar with the Madrid airport by now, but not so much with others. Ugh Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow. Ugh ugh ugh.) There are a lot of good maps online, including some of the Barcelona metro, though when it's all said and done once I'm somewhat oriented Google Maps is still about the best thing ever.

On a more pleasant note, I'm also organizing what attractions I expect to be able to see. La Pedrera, also known as Casa Mila, by Gaudi. (I accidentally included Casa Amattler on the list of Gaudi-designed houses, but it's actually by someone else.) Casa Batllo, as aforementioned. Museum of the City, which includes some Roman ruins. The reconstruction of the Barcelona Pavilion (on the edge of the big park Montjuic or "Jewish Mountain." Apparently people think there used to be a Jewish cemetery there?) And maybe, perchance, if I have time, a vintage store. Sadly, I would like to go to Montserrat and the Dali museum, but I don't think I will have time.

Total aside: Why does it seem like I'm the only touristy person I know who goes to the grocery store for food? Guidebooks talk about cheap places to eat, but they almost never tell you to just go to the grocery store and buy a pastry or a sandwich. I do not understand this.

Other total aside: Someone told me I should eat doner kebab while in Barcelona. I am really looking forward to this, actually. The most delicious thing I ate in Granada was from a kebab place -- a big pita full of yogurt, chicken, and random veggies. Mmmmmmm yummy. Also it was 5 euros for that and a drink and some (admittedly mediocre) fries, so pretty cheap. (It makes me sad that the tastiest ice cream I have had in Europe so far was from the Haagen-Dazs (sp?) down the street from where I work.)

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