Ah, the doppelgänger effect!
However, when we rented the scooter and Twizy (see previous post) and went around the entire city, we saw a much more sophisticated, well-taken-care-of, and artistic city. So sorry B.A., not to disparage you, as we know your on-going currency issues have really thwarted your efforts to keep up with wealthier nations, but although very similar, Barcelona has you beat. And also unlike Greece, where the European Union monetary and unemployment woes can be clearly see in he streets of Athens, in Barcelona, where Spain is experiencing almost as crippling of an economic situation, no signs of financial struggles could be found. The city has amazing streets, shops, parks, plaza's, museums, an incredible Olympic Village and even an amazing waterfront and beaches. Just, wow.
Too bad we only had a small taste of you Barcelona - so appropriate, just like your small plate tapas and pintxos. We'd really love to come back here and spend more time; there are so many more bites to take.
Off to Bordeaux and back to French culture!
P.S. In Catalan, the regional heritage and language roots of Eastern Spain (and the Basque regions), "X" is often substituted for consonant pairing, especially "CH", so we saw many signs for "Xocolate" and "Xurros". Suzanne and I even had another hour-long date night where we skipped past the familiar Tapas (small plates) and went for the more mysterious Pinchos/Pintxos - self-served snacks on bread slices where you are charged "by the toothpick"! Mmmmm. Guess who had the smaller beer?!?
P.S.S. As we have experienced in many places, and again confirmed in Barcelona, there is really a " A Tale of Three Cities" in most major stops. Each popular tourist destination is really three distinct areas, and if you do not have a car, you are often not seeing the entire spectrum of the town. The "first" city is the actual tourist area, and only what most visitors see; the "second" is the extended inner-city neighborhoods where the hard-core urban dwellers and young hipsters hang-out, plus, off-the-beaten-path museums; and the "third" is the suburbs, Yes, most cities around the world have larger and more sprawling areas just outside of town, complete with IKEA's, Home Depot and Costco knock-offs, and newer housing tracks (and often look a lot like the U.S.). My point? Having a car is such a blessing as we can experience all three when driving, and it gives you a look at not only the most historic, and the deeply cultural, but also the modern commercial expansion of each famous stop, which is a nice compare-and-contrast exercise and gives a more full-rounded understanding of these cultures.