I believe the word “gaudy” came from the Spanish architect Gaudi, famous for his ability to transform an otherwise ordinary European city into one that looks like its buildings come alive at night, and not in a cool “city life” way but a Night at the Museum way. Thanks to Gaudi, he made Barcelona for what it is – almost like a giant Cheesecake Factory. At least, that´s what I gathered from the Barcelona guidebook I bought at Paris Beauvais airport, which was entirely in French except for the Catalan map. If it wasn’t Gaudi then it was Gehry – but at least one of the “G” designers put his weird stamp on this city.
The rumors of coupledom are true: you stop going out at night and stay in like lame people. But this was Barcelona, and restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 8:30pm, and stay open past 1am. Which Jon and I took advantage of one night, each blowing about $100 (thanks to the good ol´ sinking American dollar in late 2007) on a tapas dinner at El Rovell del Born (photo right), (c/ Argentina, 6, tel: 93.269.04.58) which included not one but two pitchers of sangria. Later we stumbled down the street for dessert wine at a bar, two macarons in a dessert shop resembling a jewelry store with cookies displayed in glass cases, and then two dozen oysters and a bottle of wine at Vildsvin (Ferran, 38, tel. 93.317.94.07) around 12:30am. Yes, they were shucking away past midnight. Wine is really cheap in Barcelona restaurants, so the only reason we partook in the bottle is because it cost 10 euros and not because we necessarily needed any more to drink. We paid for it in the morning with a massive hangover in our hostel (yes, hostel. I was probably the oldest person there) where I slept in on my top bunk.
A quick aside on hostels. It had been nearly 12 years since I spent the night in one. And boy had I risen in life: no more dormitories! We splurged on the private room. Of course, as two graduate students we had no income which is my excuse for being stuck in a hostel. Still had to share a bathroom. But its was entertaining posing as a college kid among the other ones studying abroad there.
It was still a lot of fun being one of the gazillion tourists who frequented the tackiness of Las Ramblas (photo, left) and hoarded their way towards the Gaudi monuments that dot the city like poofs of dough exploded over buildings. Since it was the off season, however, the majority of sites were covered in scaffolding for renovation, so many of our pictures are of us standing in front of what appears to be a construction site. I happen to like the fact that Barcelona´s architecture is kind of ugly.