Barcelona

We drove from Bilbao to Barcelona in a day, stopping in Zarragosa after numerous hours of driving to stretch our legs.   The country changed from rolling green hills dotted with flocks of sheep in the northern Basque country to flatter and dryer land, dotted with wind turbines and solar panels.  It’s not very picturesque, including the wine country closer to Barcelona.  Perhaps that’s a reflection of the time of year, as the vineyards are all dormant and cut way back, and everything is brown.  The weather has warmed considerably, though, and our hotel in Barcelona is up near where the Barcelona Olympic Park is located.

We needed to return our car first thing, and thankful for the GPS unit that spoke to us in calming British tones, we managed to drive from the hotel, past the world’s smallest gas station (one pump by the side of the road with a tiny kiosk and a single attendant that you simply drive up to without leaving the roadway), and onto the National Car rental return place without a hitch.  (This is no small feat, as the streets are almost always one way.)

Set loose on the streets of Barcelona, Hans managed to find not one but two slot car stores within 2 blocks, one with an enormous track inside.

We walked down the Ramblas, the main pedestrian walkway in town, and into the Gothic Quarter where the streets are tiny and filled with, kinda sadly, too many shops selling soccer t-shirts and kitch and tacky clothing.   We had lunch at a tapas bar, where gorgeous tapas were laid out along a long L-shaped bar, and you could simply pluck what you wanted if it looked good.  Each tapa was 1.50 euro, counted simply by the long toothpick left behind.  Food ranged from a simple skewer of cherry tomato and anchovies with olive oil, to sausages, sliced cheese, to these amazing creations piled atop a slice of bread … grilled eggplant, slice of fish, olive tapanade, and a sprinkle of fish roe, for example.  There were olives and whipped concoctions piped onto bread, and then all matter of small bites of sweets.  Two bites of cake.  A tiny ramkin of custard.

Perfect portion control.

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