Wednesday, February 14, 2007

dEviL's Guide to Barcelona

I had to good chance to visit Barcelona on an official trip :) Here was what I did.

a) Mug up some decent Spanish terms. Examples.
i)"Por Donde se va" => "Where is..." {This was very helpful}
ii)"Como Estas" =>"How is/are"
iii)"No entiendo espanol"=>"I do not speak Spanish {Of course!}
Some Good sites to learn Spanish can be googled out. Here, here, and so on.... Barcelona: A small place in Catalonia/Catalunya, which is an autonomous community in Spain. Spain considers it a district in Spain, but as the Catalonians. They claim it is a country or close to that and it has its own elected parliment and government, a distinct culture, and also its own language-The Catalan..

b) Go to Spain and land at Barcelona Airport. Air France operates a Bangalore to Paris Direct and a connecting flight from Paris to Barcelona (Yes. I did visit Paris for a day when I returned. The next blog entry will be on Paris) . I was supposed to wait for a colleague to share a taxi, but both of our mobiles' roaming facility did not activate on time and we missed each other. Talk about going to a telecom seminar. The least they could have done is to provide free roaming to the delegates, huh.

c) Found out that my hotel was a good 35Km away from Barcelona ! Had to take a cab and try all my Spanish at him, which was a pretty pathetic event. The good thing was that the cabbie knew where Caldes de Montbui was.

d) The Place: Very scenic small town famous for its Balneari, which is an Ancient Roman Bathouse, found in the 1st and 2nd Century BC. There are hot springs at some corners which spout water at 76Deg C constantly !

e) Getting Around Caldes: The Hotel Vila de Caldes has cycles that they give out fo no extra charge to the hotel inmates. Along with a map. It makes an excellent trip. I visited the Thermales Musea de caldes and the House Dels Delger

f) Get to Work: Won't bore you with my work (I'm going to document that in a private company confidential memo shortly). The typical day at Barcelona starts not before 9.00AM. The place is dark until around until then. This, my colleague told me was because Spain chose to be aligned with the rest of Europe on their time, whereas being on the far east of europe they should in fact be behind France by a couple of hours or so (unverified). The Spanish are notoriously famous for taking off after lunch (Siesta), and I actually saw that even the shopkeepers were half Shut after lunch. Had a good time roaming around Plaza De Catalunya. There is an official Barca Merchandize outlet, but they quote astronomical prices (E60 for a T-Shirt that was made in Bangladesh. Probably Commercial Street can give some something for E0.6 on the same terms of quality and print)

g) The Food: A Vegetarian guide :) All restaurants open for dinner only at 8.30PM in the night. Except for the days when there is a soccer match, when they open after the match is over.
i) Tapas: Appetizers in Spanish Cusine. I had the Patatas Bravas which is very much like the Aaloo Fry. Tasted very good for my Indian tongue. Also olives(Aceitunas) that taste good.

ii) The Churro, or the Spanish Donut (I was sure to ask specifically for the vegetarian potato one). This is a tasty snack that comes with a chocolate dipping.
iii) The Rice: Now one can go in for the Paella Vegetables, which is cooked rice mixed with vegetables. Bread is served dipped in tomatoes, which is a traidional dinner accompaniment (I even saw folks eating tomatoes for breakfast. In fact Gazpachos can be a meal in itself). Or if you wimp out, there'z always Pizza Margherita !
iv) Grilled Vegetables: This is only for the Le gastronome adventurus. I had this for dinner once, and must admit, did not feel very well after eating vegetables that were grilled and smothered in olive oil (without a hint of seasoning I guess). This is authentic Catalonian Cusine. The next day I settled for a catalan vegetable salad that was much better on my insides.
v) Deserts: Here is my favourite. There were pastries, cookies, cheesecakes, or simple plain yogurt...

h) The Cafes: Cafes are nice cozy outlets that are open in the night until 11.00PM. The other alternative is sports bars. And that's how the day is ended, before another dull morning. Either way, people are on the streets all the way until late night. My manuals warned me repeatedly against pickpockets. But what is it to a person who has spent his life travelling in Pondy Bazaar and Commercial Street ? Nothing.

And thereby, I end this Post. Here is my map. Next Post - A cheap day in Paris......