Tuesday May 3rd, 2011
It might be part of Spain, but Barcelona has a character all its own. The people there talk their own language and call themselves Catalonians. Barcelona is a big, cosmopolitan city. The architecture is simply magnificent and you can feel the vibrancy of the place as you walk among the people. Once they were part of the Roman Empire and then they were ruled by the Moors for 700 years. The Moors were finally defeated and Spain was united by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. This unified Spain tried for years to suppress their language and culture and make them all Spaniards. But, somehow through all that they have kept their separate identity intact. This pride was quite evident in the commentary of our guide as we took in all the highlights of Barcelona on an organized bus tour. We made several stops as we drove all over town and were able to bypass the long lines at the major attractions since we had reservations. In the center of this large metropolis stands the ultimate construction project. They have been building the Cathedral of the Holy Family since 1882 and it is
still not completed. Construction is funded by the entrance fees and donations. Eight of the future 18 towers are done and the interior is 90% complete. It is really something to behold and almost hard to believe that the project has been going for this long. Not much happened during the Franco Regime as religion was suppressed, but other than that it has been a continuous effort for over 129 years. They say they think they can be finished in only another 20 years! It was wonderful to see and the added excitement was that it is one of the most notorious locations for pickpockets. As everyone is wandering around looking up at the immense structure they squeeze thru the dense crowd and ply their trade. Jane carried no purse that day and we wore only money belts under our clothes for passports and credit cards. We ran the gauntlet unscathed, but others not so prudent made an unwanted donation in the church. I was constantly scanning the crowd and saw one very sharply dressed local several times. He seemed to be just continuously walking thru the throng. He was dressed very upscale in a fancy leather jacket, carried a
briefcase and was not looking at anything in the Cathedral. He was so smooth I never saw him take anything; he just seemed to rub up against people quite a bit as he constantly walked amongst the spectators. He moved away when he noticed I was staring at him. The day was quite enjoyable and I was glad we took an organized tour. In a big city like Barcelona it is really the best way to see a lot in a short amount of time.
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