If you know Riki….Barcelona Day 1

If you know Riki, you know he likes flags.  There are zillions of flags in Barcelona, mostly one that is inspired by the Cuban and Puerto Rican flags.  It is a combination of the Catalan flag, which is just yellow and red stripes, but adds a blue triangle with a star.  This flag is the symbol of the separatists, who are trying to get the area of Catalonia independence from Spain.  This hasn’t been going so well, and recently a former leader of Catalonia has been accused of money laundering and hiding millions (Euros or dollars – but at that level it doesn’t matter – its a lot) in Swiss bank accounts.  This area has a lot of local pride and even have their own language, Catalan, which they speak along with Spanish.

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Our first day, we arrived at 9 am from Oviedo (no significant plane trauma to report).  We met our AirBNB host to drop off our bags and went exploring.  Our little apartment in El Born was in a trendy, up and coming area with lots of little shops and lots of graffiti.  It is right near the oldest part of the city and we were able to walk to almost everything, and we did.

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The ceiling in our room – quasi Gaudi?

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There are a ton of markets in Barcelona, some more touristy than others, but all with the same bustling atmosphere and incredible colors and smells.  We went everyday to get dried meat, bread, cheese AND fruit.  We’re trying to eat something besides meat, bread and cheese, but they are the best things and can be the cheapest.

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They have an old cathedral, which we did not go in.

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There’s an incredible amount of graffiti in Barcelona, some of it very good.  Most of it not.  If you know Riki, you also know he likes taking pictures of graffiti.  So expect more to come.

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Just down the street from our apartment in the Olympic Park, built for the 1992 Olympics.  The Arc de Triomf sits at the end of a great promenade, crowded with people in the evenings.

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A note on pictures:

If you know Riki, you know he takes a TON of pictures.  We are limited on space for this blog and are trying to downsize the pictures so we can include more in the blog.  Hopefully we will have that figured out before Asia, as I imagine there will be even more than the 1500 pictures he took in 8 days in Spain.  So check back later.

Asturias with old friends….Spain

Map

I’m not going to bore you with the details of the flight except to say that I have decided there should be a “children’s section” on planes.  They used to have smoking sections, why not one for children?  Eight children under 8 within 8 feet should not be allowed on a (small) plane.  On to the good stuff.

I have been to Spain before.  Riki had not.  My friend, Cristina, my “Spaniard” as we lovingly refer to her, is from the north of Spain in Oviedo, Asturias.  It is a beautiful place, kind of with weather like the Pacific Northwest, mostly rainy, but very green.  We got lucky and had a few days of very warm weather.  Oviedo is a charming old town, with remnants of an old wall and lots of churches – my favorite.  We went into this one, I promise.

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We tried vermouth – from a very famous martini place in Oviedo.  Not my favorite, but the olive was delicious

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The next day we went to an amazing fishing village along the coast called Cudillero.  It reminded us of Cinqueterra in Italy, with its steep sides and lack of streets.  It has a lighthouse and lots of meandering paths up the mountains where the houses are only accessible by foot.  Imagine carrying your groceries up to the top of this.

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Next stop, a rocky beach called Playa del Silencio that involved a trek down a cliff.  The water was frigid, but Riki and Cristina braved it despite the rough waves.

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We picked up our chauffeur for the week that evening, Miguel (the male “Spaniard”),

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and had a fabulous dinner with Cristina’s dad, where he lives in Aviles. Heading east the next day, we stopped along the shore at a spot where the water comes through the land and creates a small sandy cove – Playa de Gulpiyuri.

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We took a funicular up to the village of Bulnes (population ~50 in the summer, 5 in the winter) where you can see the Picos de Europa – a particularly nice view after an hour and half hike up some pretty steep terrain, where I learned the words for wet rocks – piedras mojadas.  Bulnes is not accessible by car and the funicular is a relatively new development.  Prior to the funicular, it was only reachable by a hour long hike.

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Next stop, Covadonga (also went in this church) where this massive church was built on a tall ledge.  Very impressive.  It is the area were Pelayo drove the invading Moors back into the mountains, the first victory.  I could have this all wrong, but that’s what I remember.

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They have a lot of cows here.

We went to a very cool beach that is completely enclosed on the sides, forming a “canal” of sorts before ending our day in Llanes where we stayed at Cristina’s family apartment.  Llanes is a beach town and was very crowded with people and shops.  Had to have ice cream every night of course.

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To end our trip on an educational note, we spent a few hours at the dinosaur museum, along the coast where they have found ancient footprints of actual dinosaurs.  I’m a bit skeptical of the dinosaurs with feathers idea as there were no feathers in “Land Before Time.”

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Next stop….Barcelona.