"C'est combien?"
"Fifteen. Quince." Unsure if she got the English word right, the lady pulls out a calculator and types in 15 to show my friend.
"Thank you; merci."
Barcelona is such a cool blend of languages.  Conversations like this one, in three languages, are not uncommon to us. We're not sure if the person speaks French or English (most people speak at least one) so we try one, and if they look confused, try the other.  In France, most everybody speaks English.  In Barcelona, 90 minutes from the French border, we're finding that French is at least as useful as English in a country to which neither one is native.
We expected to be completely helpless here in terms of communication.  One of our friends speaks Spanish fluently, but if he weren't around we would have to revert to our pre-language grunt-and-point form of communication.  Thankfully, that expectation was not met; instead we got a linguistic experience even more interesting than the one we're getting in France.
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When I think of Barcelona, I think of colors, vibrancy and life.  Certain attractions have displayed the vibrancy that the city is known for, but the streets just look like any other city- not as awful as New York but nowhere near as pretty as Boston or London.
Our first night here, Barcelona was playing Real Madrid, their arch rival, in fútbol. The sense of unity was apparent during the day when almost every man, woman and child wore a Barcelona fútbol (soccer) jersey.  For dinner we went to a restaurant where the game was playing so that we could watch and be part of the excitement.  We ate tapas and tried a Catalonian dessert.  We cheered out loud and clapped with everyone else when they scored and won. 
PictureFruit at the Mercat Boqueria: the best part of Barcelona!
Earlier that day our tour guide pointed out a market where she said all the locals go.  The Mercat Boqueria was my favorite place in the city.  The fresh fruit was divine and the fruit juices, like the Dragonfruit juice I got on our first trip there, were amazing.  Tonight we got calzones and fruit juice for dinner and it was the best 4€ I spent in Barcelona.  I'm sure the meat, candied nuts and other sweets were delicious, but that's the stuff of another trip.

This morning we took the metro to Park Güell.  (At this point everybody should pause and be impressed that we managed the metro in a city we don't know.)  After having scheduled tours for the last two days, we were left to our own devices today.  Park Güell is a complex which was originally supposed to be an elite residential area but was never finished.  The designer was Antoni Gaudí, and his designs look like something out of Dr. Seuss.  There are not many right angles; instead the rooftops and balconies are curved to avoid them.  The colors are bright and the architecture is exactly the kind you expect to see in Spain.
Looking back on what I've written, it seems like we found a lot of life in a short period of time, but that's because what was there is easier to write about than what was missing.  The expectations that we had were not met for any of us.  The liveliness of the city was exaggerated and we were disappointed.  In the future it would be wise not to make the mistake of having a certain expectation and not being satisfied when it's not met.  But for this next trip, there's no way we're going to be disappointed, even if we just eat the whole trip.  We'll be up at 4 tomorrow morning to board a flight to Belgium, home of waffles, chocolate and fries.
 


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