Europe -  Barcelona, Spain (76 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJun-18 1:06 PM 
To: All  (1 of 8) 


Conde Nast

All great cities are united by one thing: a deep sense of cultural identity. And for all its utter Spanishness, Barcelona is first and foremost the capital of Catalonia, a proudly autonomous region of Spain that has repeatedly attempted to secede and become its own nation. You’ll hear Catalan spoken in the streets, and see the artistic endeavors of the region’s dynamic and sometimes surrealistic figures such as Miro and Gaudi in museums and along the buildings of the Passeig de Gràcia. Long known for its later-than-late nightlife, Barcelona has in recent years earned a reputation as a party town. But for us, the city will always be known for its more tranquil pleasures: a stroll along the narrow lanes of its Gothic quarter (one of the largest in Europe); its excellent ham-heavy food; the riveting people-watching you can indulge in from one of its many sidewalk cafes. Because it’s not just the city’s sights you’ll fall in love with—it’s its very way of life.


From: RGoss99Jul-7 5:17 AM 
To: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (2 of 8) 
 2042.2 in reply to 2042.1 

Barcelona, great, except for your comment "utter Spanishness" Of all the cities in the state of Spain, Barcelona, as capital of greater Catalunya is the most unspanish (don´t know a word for the opposite of "utter")

To the traveler, "Spanish" suggests bull fights and flamenco. In Barcelona, flamenco is only for tourists, and there is a current struggle with Madrid regarding the Catalá speaking parts sof Spain attempting to ban bull fightss.

In Barcelona, the majority speak Catalá in the home not Spanish. As in my village in Mallorca, if a tourist speaks only Spanish, and is not from Spain, to be polite we communicate in that language. However, here, and in

the non package tour parts of Barcelona, if a tourist from speaks Spanish, people pretend not to understand or they respond in Catalá.

"has repeated ly attempted to secede" should be changed to is currently attempting to seceed.

"to become its own <<NATION>>,  Catalunya, by definition is already a nation, what you mean "to become its own <<STATE>>.

Sadly, for German and English speakers, Barcelona has (not earned) a "reputation as a party town". Sad, because to many tourists at the low end of the scale, this becomes an excuse for bad behavior.

One can "party" anywhere, for the discriminating tourist it is a "festa town" quite a different thing.

As a musician, and member of several groups, I am in Barcelona often, and have noticed that the proportion of tourists at festes is much lower then one might expect compared to locals.

There is a reason for this. Festes are gratis, but the international tourist industry, actually discourages participation because they make more money shuffling tourists to pseudo events that bring them money.

Example: on the Monday of St Eulalia´s festa (one of the two largest in Barcelona, the other Mercé in September) I had a free day, and decided to visit Montserrat. On my return I got into conversation with

4 Irish university students. I asked them if they had enjoyed any of the Eulalia events over the weekend. [Blank faces] What was that, I explained, and asked how they had spent the weekend, and they gave

be a list of non free things they had done, at the suggestion of their travel agent, and the tourist info offices in Barcelona.


In Barcelona, one of the best places to visit, to get a feel of the people, culture, history is sort of a rectanble, bordered on the west by the Ramblas running from Plaça Catalunya south to Columbus column. following she harbor East

to Santa Maria del Mar, then north to the Seu. With one exception, all of the week long (actually 9 days - novena) festa took place within that area, sufficient to inform and entertain, and "party" if one wants - all for free.

These Irish young people were not aware of any of the events. Generally, the area is known as the "Barri Gotic". With that as a base, the majority of other things to do in Barcelona are within two metro stations distance from it.


As this is a travel site, a word of advice I adhere to. My concept of a "package" is transport, and first and last night at a hotel. I usually purchase a guide book, I recommend "Insite", read it in advance and rate ll the events on a scale of

1 (must see) down to 5 (see if it is free, raining, and on my to somewhere else). With this information, I am free to ignore the list if I see or hear of something more interesting. In Barcelona, purchase a metro pass providing unlimited

rides during the length of my stay, in other places, go to the local bus terminus, and ride a local bus. Remember that many of the tourist office, guide book, agency recomendations are based on kickbacks and have nothing to do with

my reasons for visiting a place. I specificly avoid recomended shows and restaurants, prefering to go to those where locals outnumber tourists. Another warning, your government representatives (consulate-embassy) are also in on the

game, not only recommending unofficially, but warning their nationals from some places as dangerous.


Yes, Barcelona has "a deep sense of cultural identity", but most tourists never experience it, go to the approved places, and come home with the same photos and predigested experiences.

Here is another example of the problem. My sister was living in Italy, north of Rome, so one easter I decided to take my first (and last cruise)  starting from Barcelona its last port before returning was Palma (my capital)

1. At the beginning of the cruise, using the excuse of limited vacancies, the crew attempts to pre-sell package tours at all the ports - no refund if you change your mind.

[all of these follow the same pattern as I mentioned for Barcelona]

As I did not purchase any, the people at my table who had purchased some, were curious as to why not and I explained the above, and added that the cruise line

makes more money if one never leaves the ship. After docking a lot of time is wasted organizing the tour, deboarding, loading the busses, and getting back early

[so as not to be late for departure].

2. When we got to Ostia (for Rome) my plan was to walk on my own to the train station, take train to Rome, transfer to a train north to visit my sister.

I calculated the schedule, so that I had an hour to walk back to the boat from the original station - total cost - train fare. I convinced some at my table who accompanied

me as far as Rome, walked to St Peters, and as they left, saw the tour from our boat just arriving. Bought a street map, talked to some Romans, who recomended a restaurant

not in any guide book, located in a piazza where there were no tourists. On return, discussing with others who had taken the tour, they had saved almost 50€ per person, and

seen a lot more places, and gained three hours on land, they would not have had if they had taken the "approved" tour.

3. So for Palma, our penultimate port, 8 hour stop, my table of 9 was convinced, and since this was my town asked me to be their guide.

I contacteds Hertz on the net (cost 30€ because of a slow connection) and arranged for a minivan to meet us at the guard house (unapproved vehicles not permitted to drive

to the gang plank). The official tour 40€ perperson,  was merely a 3 hour series of photo ops. My tour 6 hours, saw all the same places, but got inside the castle for a concert, inside

the Cathedral (free 30 minutes before or after mass - other times 6€), and a restaurant of my choice, set menu 10€. We had dropped the Hartz guy at his office, and picked him up

on returning to the ship. Including me, 10 people, the official tour would have cost 400€ (not including meals). My tour, free for me as the others paid for the van, computer time, my dinner,

came to 60€, divided by 9, came out around 8€
...[Message truncated]


From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-7 7:03 AM 
To: RGoss99  (3 of 8) 
 2042.3 in reply to 2042.2 

RGoss99 said...

except for your comment "utter Spanishness"

Read again (more closely)... Conde Nast's comment


From: RGoss99Jul-7 1:38 PM 
To: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (4 of 8) 
 2042.4 in reply to 2042.3 

My objection was to the word "utter" Barcelona has very little to do with Spain, its only connection is that for a proportionally few years

it has been a part of the Spanish state.


From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-7 1:59 PM 
To: RGoss99  (5 of 8) 
 2042.5 in reply to 2042.4 

I'd agree that Barcelona has a history that is oftimes separate from Spain.   I guess the rest is a question of time.   I cheated a bit on history to look at the date, as the best I recalled was it close to the era of Christopher Columbus, but the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 began the present ties between Catalonia and the rest of what we call Spain (although there's obviously been a good bit of conflict and disagreement from time to time, and in any event your point that the area's culture is different is certainly true.

This now 14 year old thread in our sister forum hits some of the attempts to actually separate from Spain:  Catalan Party Seeks Sovereignty in Spain .


From: RGoss99Jul-8 12:35 AM 
To: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (6 of 8) 
 2042.6 in reply to 2042.5 

Your interpretation is based on how American history is taught. I remember in grammar school, when we still had Columbus day, when we were told that the marriage of Isabel and Ferdinand united Spain for the first time and by their joint conquest of Grenada, all of Spain was liberated from the Moors. The second part is true, the first isn´t.

1. Isabel, Queen of several kingdoms, Castile, Leon, Galicia, Asturias, etc. married Ferdinand, crown prince of Aragon, whose father was the king of large parts of France, Aragon, Valencia, and Count of Barcelona (county now called Catalunya, ruler of the Baleares as a client kingdom of Aragon. The marriage was simply an alliance of convenience to drive out the Moors, both husband and wife, ruled each their separat kingdoms, with the status of consort in the others.

When Isabel died, Joana, their daughter became Queen of Castile-Leon, with her father as regent for political reasons. Both units were ruled separately. When Ferdinand dies, the regency over Joana passed to Don Carlos her son. When Joana died, Don Carlos became "king of the Spains" (note the plural because each of the kingdoms, about 18 of them had their own court, official, laws until Spain was conquered by Napoleon, With the fall of Napolon, the kingdoms got their own rights back and this lasted until Isabel II, became the first Queen of Spain (singular), with a state government in Madrid. This was actually de jure, because the first defact ruler of all Spain was Franco, which is when Catalunya lost its independence, less then 100 years ago. Because this was conquest by force it was never accepted by the Catalans, so after the death of Franco, and Spain got a democratic constitution, 40 years ago, a compromise was reached, creating 18 autonomous regions, all of which Madrid, had been independent self governing kingdoms before Isabel II. The referendum that approved the present constitution was not in fact democratec because it was forced on the people exhausted by the civil war and just wanted peace. As a result there at present strong independence movements in Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalunya, well supported in terms of the U.S. expression "states rights" because Madrid has constantly violated the compromise.

Ironicly, figuring 18 regions, only 5 of them are supporting the rest of Spain, Gallego speaking Galicia, Euskera speaking Basque country, and Catalá speaking Valencia, Baleares, and Catalunya. To there is a battle on two fronts, economicly, Baleares as an example, is currently fighting to get closer to its own share of the GNP. Culturally, as Gran Cataluya by definition is a nation, Madrid misusing a cultural clause in the E.U. has been nullifying Balearic laws in line with the E.U. by attempting to interfere with bull fighting, which had died out before Napoleon, and reestablished by Franco in our area. This is still up in the air, the current issue is that our laws, similar to those involving porn, forbid kids to attend bull fights, with the organizers paying heavy fines for each proven minor who gets in. (I think we have 4 active bull rings, but bulls and personal have to be imported, because there are not enough linced bull fights to make them economicly feasable  - so he rings are used for circuses, animal exhibits at fairs, concerts and other cultural events. I have a personal tradition that I not take others word for things considered bad, so I atteded my first and last bull fight about 15 years ago, 3 torreros, 6 bulls, I left after 3, of which only one bull was actually killed by the torrero, the other two stabbed to death by the matador, plus one horse gored to death. I am not a sun person, so paid a high price for the shade side, which was virtually empty,as were all the boxes above me. The Sun side was about 1/3 full mainly tourists, who came by buses from the cruise ships or tourist hotels. If I was an enthusiastic professional torrero, I would have been embarrased by the nature of the fans.

The American states rights issue has some similarities. Trump supporters come mainly from "flyover land" which is basicly supported by the GNP raised on the coasts.


From: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostJul-8 12:46 AM 
To: RGoss99  (7 of 8) 
 2042.7 in reply to 2042.6 

RGoss99 said...

The marriage was simply an alliance of convenience to drive out the Moors, both husband and wife, ruled each their separat kingdoms, with the status of consort in the others.

I had the good fortune to a great deal of history and political studies beyond the small amount most in the US get.  (My favorite course was a Russian history course that heavily focused on the 1800s and early 1900s).  In courses on Europe, I think a fair generalization is that the whole history of Europe is riddled with marriages based on convenience, alliances and politics, and today's friend of convenience was often next year's opponent. 

I agree that entire regions of modern Spain have very little to do culturally with others - be it Catalonia, the Basques, etc.   Much of the world's map (think of the whole mideast, and Africa) is essential an artificial relic of who fought who in what war.   There is some common heritage in Spain - the same conquerers at various times - controlled very different areas.   But that's part of the joy of travel.

Sometimes the changes happen before your eyes (I'm thinking of my visits to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Germany before the current map changes).

Trying not to get too off topic - as you make a good point - tourists often don't see the REAL country.  A summer I spent in Europe in 1974 in my student days was wonderful partly because I spent much of my time exploring and talking to local people my age - I did the basic tours to get a quick orientation and then tended to take off, often minus planning, to see a more real view.   Barcelona is a city that certainly merits that venture away from the sterile tour bus and guides.   You get better food, but you also learn much more.


From: RGoss99Jul-8 4:07 PM 
To: Glen (GEAATL) DelphiPlus Member Icon  (8 of 8) 
 2042.8 in reply to 2042.7 

Palma, last year the U.S. VI Fleet (6000 military) put in for R&R. Two problems, their point of debarcation was closed for "security reasons" which meant that the servicemen had two choices, bus for "approved" tour, or a 1k walk to a bus stop with access to the tourist area.

The approved tour, arranged by the Bush appointed councul, was to "Festival Park", an American style shopping mall (AMC, McD´s, Burger King, Levi Gap, etc.). As is standard the tour cost 40€ and lasted all day, food not provided - when if that is what the troops wanted all they had to do is walk the 1k to the bus stop, take bus to station, and train to the venue, cost about 2.50€ and they could leave the mall anytime they wanted.

Other option, was walk, bus, to tourist area, and hit all the junk tourist shops, restaurants, and bars, by a map and take a self guided walking tour, or buy a 10€ ticket for a bus tour of the city, good all day, get on and off at any point of interest

I am a casteller, and of the 150 teams, the 2 on the island had a competition, right below the cathedral. As this and most cultural things are free, it was not advertised, but easy to find, as the cathedral is a land mark.

I am on the Manacor team (major league as of last October - see attached), but have friends on the Palma team. So I designed a flier, explaining castellera, with a map, and sent the kids on the Palma team out on bikes to pass them out

to what were obviously American servicemen.* About 300 came, participated, photo ops, etc. and many were invited to lunch (unapproved restaurants) with the families.


*American military stereotypes, conservative hair, no piercings or tattoos, travel in packs, racially mixed, male and female, but not as couples, but the real give away is that they are in civies because the ship´s laundry, returns the shirts with

cardboard inserts, which leaves creases dividing them into vertical thirds, and horizontally in half.

Castellera - my team "Al·lots de Llevant" [green shirts - translates "Eastside Kids" last October ...


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