We have now been in Barcelona for two days, and it is incredible how much it stands in contrast to French culture. While Parisians are formal, quiet, and polite, Catalán culture is laid back, loud, and care free. The architecture is astounding and eccentric, with a diversity of historic cobble stoned streets, colorful tiled Gaudi architecture, and massive modern night clubs. The buildings are often ornate with beautifully carved towers and little window terraces. In Paris, the terraces are uniformly adorned with little red flower boxes, but in Barcelona they aren’t afraid to show signs of life, work, and struggle in the street, so the terraces are instead full of drying laundry or Cataluña Independence flags. We haven’t seen all that much of the city yet, but it’s truly gorgeous and we feel a lot more comfortable here!
Our last two days in Paris were filled with lots of cool surprises! We made our obligatory rounds to the last of the major tourist “traps” (as Brendan likes to call them) only to find out that the Arc de Triomphe was surrounded by the craziest, most terrifying multi lane traffic circle and that the Champs Elysees most just sells Feraris and other expensive items that we could never afford. On a more positive note, we found a rooftop bar with an unprecedented view of the city, watched some city beach volleyball games, and attended Mass in French on Sunday morning. One of the highlights of France was our last night. As we were walking down the street, we passed a cafe, and noticed that John Kerry was sitting at an outdoor table! Of course Brendan went over to chat with him about how they have a mutual friend as the secret service lurked about two feet away. Later that night one of Brendan’s friends was in Paris for a Bachelorette party, so we met with her and the Bride’s friends.
Sunday afternoon we took a train out of Paris to Barcelona, which was quite the experience. When we boarded the first train, Brendan noticed that there were two other people who were assigned the exact same ticket as him. After a lot of confusion and hand waving, everyone somehow found a place to sit. On the second train, though, we witnessed a seat saga as a middle aged woman and some teenage boys battled it out for the seat across from us at a table. Let’s just say that the quarters were rather small and we witnessed the show down from a lot closer than we would have liked. Meanwhile, a French woman next to the other siblings was laughing and narrating the whole scenario in French- without knowing that none of us spoke French! So after six awkward hours of train riding, we booked it off that train into the humid Barcelona air incredibly grateful that we could speak Spanish for the next few days.