Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Barcelona: Boats and Beaches

I saved the day on and near and in the water until last.  I learned many things along the way:

  • The western Mediterranean is cold in late June.  I had never swum in any part of the Med so the idea of being in the same body of water as heaps of dead Ancient Greeks and Romans was kind of interesting to me.
  • Speaking of Greeks, I learned that the Spanish word for jellyfish is medusa!  A sign indicated that they were out there, but I didn't see any.
  • I felt very American to be surprised at nudists hanging out at non-nudist beaches.  It really gave some evidence to the whole "confidence of a mediocre man" since, well, the dudes who were naked were not in good shape.  The women varied, but the naked men were all not very fit.  Sorry, can't take my comparative lenses off.

  • That nostalgia for old, obsolete stuff is not just a North American thing as the neighbors of a power plant apparently voted to keep the power plant's big chimneys long after the power plant was closed down.  That this was right next to a super solar panel made it stand out even more.

  • Some contemporary history, of course, also struck me.  This sign memorializes those lost trying to cross the Med for a better life.  While kids in concentration camps is making news in the US, and deservedly so, others elsewhere are also in harm's way trying to escape violence and depredation.

  • The last part of the tour took us to the port and I got to see some cans being moved around up close:

  • I learned that some people have strong opinions about identity.  I am not sure this is aimed at Catalans or Spanairds or whoever.  But I had to take the pic.  I will say I saw more than a few Catalan flags and, more strikingly, a number of signs referring to political prisoners.  Here, the yellow ribbon is clearly not about veterans but political prisoners.  Alas, as a tourist, I didn't have anyone here I could chat with about Catalan politics.  I am not one to go up to random people and ask how separatist they are feeling.  Too bad I am not doing any books on nationalism, because I could have found the cover!
  •  Finally, I learned that I am pretty lucky.  That I had time in between two West European conferences to squat somewhere in western Europe.  And I am glad I went with the conventional wisdom--Barcelona is a pretty terrific place.  Beautiful, full of amazing art, great food, and some very nice beaches.  After traveling, I will have one more day before the EISS conference, so I will be going to the beach again, but a very different kind of beach--Omaha and Normandy.  So, the next tourism post will be back to a recurring theme here: World War II tourism. 

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