> B is for Barcelona: Here, the people spoke Catalan, the chamfered boulevards allowed easy transit, and friends from Canada, who speak Canadian, joined us for a week of intercambio. We communicated through gesture, sign language, and facial tics.
> A is for Artistic License: Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Marià Fortuny…the list of Catalan artists is as long as the wait in the check out line at the official Futbol Club Barcelona store at Camp Nou. FC Barcelona isn’t just 11 guys running around a field in knee socks; it’s “Més que un club,” as evident on our tour of the stadium, the accompanying museum, the press box, the locker room, the official chapel and the invitation to pay 90 euros for the photos we were forced to pose for three times during our visit.
Footnote: Please scroll past if irrelevant.
“Top Left: The Saint George Cross, or Creu de Sant Jordi in Catalan, refers to the Patron Saint of Catalonia.
Top Right: Four red bars on a gold background are La Senyera, the Catalan National flag, which legend has it is the Quatre Dits de Sang (Four Fingers of Blood) made by 9th century King Wilfred the Hairy to place on a shield before going into battle against the Moors.
Bottom: The red and claret blaugrana colours are those sported on the first team shirt and were introduced in 1900. There is some dispute as to whether they refer to founder Joan Gamper’s FC Zurich colours or the the Merchant Taylors School colours, which was attended by early stars Arthur and Ernest Witty.
However, the message the FC Barcelona Logo transmits is of a crest that honours the sporting dimension of the football club as well as its connection to its home city and native country.” (Google Search)
R is for Real Madrid: FC Barcelona’s arch rival. (No information available on origin of logo.)
> C is for Ciutedella Park: Built in the late 1800s, Parc de la Ciutadella is a perfect place to navigate a bicycle, row a boat, or marvel at the number of people who want to enjoy the park at the exact same time that you do.
> E is for Entertaining: That’s what it is to ride on top of the double decker tourist bus, keeping eyes open for hidden gems.
> L is for Lounging: Having traveled a combined 5,893 miles (9,484 kilometers) to meet in Barcelona, we were all pretty wiped out, so we spent quite a bit of time in our flat in the Eixample district. Here we plotted our day’s adventures and figured out ways to keep the shower from overflowing on to the bathroom floor.
> O is for Over-the-Top: Though every other English-speaking tourist tries to connect gaudy with Gaudí, etymologically gaudy [showy, bright, full of trickery] precedes Gaudí [a surname of unknown origin that neither Google nor Wikipedia can explicate] by about three or four centuries. That did not stop us from visiting Parc Güell and marveling at the gay, playful, and fantastical creations that Gaudí bestowed on what was supposed to be an exclusive housing development created in the early 1900s and that subsequently became a world-famous celebration of the wacky and whimsical.
> N is for noodling around the city: Every day offered delights, which we sampled greedily, (sin jamon). For some of us, that meant bicycling along the waterfront or walking the length of Las Ramblas. For others, it meant pretending to go out for coffee and croissants and instead hiding in the stairwell for a few minutes of peace. One thing we all agreed on was that nobody had to do anything he or she didn’t want to do, unless we made her or him do it.
> A is for Addenda: Our friends returned to Vancouver, and we drove northeast through Catalonia to La Garrotxa, the land of slumbering volcanoes. Here it was easy enough to rent bicycles and ride the Carrilet Via Verde, hike from one dormant volcano to another through beech woods, and generally be appreciative of most things on most days.