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Sunday, September 02, 2007


Art Museum above Plaza de Espanya.

Beat Feet

Have you ever heard of the Bataan Death March? Well, I mean those poor souls no disrespect but after the amount of walking I’ve done these past two days, I would have done the Death March skipping and humming. I don’t know if your legs can actually fall off from too much walking but I thought mine were about to secede from the rest of my body at the end of the day yesterday. I hiked around town yesterday for a solid seven hours. That’s a lot of walking and especially for someone who hates walking as I do. I need a damn bike.

They have a rental bike system here in Barcelona that you can subscribe to but it’s only for residents. Bicing is what they call the system and they have racks of distinctive-looking at various locations around the city, near the train station, for example. You just swipe your subscriber card and unlock a bike to use for a short trip around town. You can only use the bikes for a maximum of two hours which seems like a pretty short period. Two hours these days if a good warm-up for me. I’ll have to find another place to rent a bike. I’ve only come across one place thus far and I wasn’t impressed with their stock.

I have been trying to hump around to all of the usual tourist haunts but I just enjoy looking through all of the great neighborhoods. I have only been on one street (it’s called Paral•lel—that’s how they write it in Catalan) that was less than charming. It’s not spectacularly ugly or anything; it is just a main thoroughfare. Other than that one street, almost every place I’ve been, every single neighborhood I have stumbled upon, would be a great place to live.

Where I am staying in the Gracia district, the street is so quiet that I don’t have my regular morning clues that it’s time to wake up. The buildings are all historic apartments with no businesses on the ground floor which means you don’t hear the shutters opening up in the morning, nor is there the low roar of customers filing along the street. The street in front of the building is so narrow that cars rarely pass by. It’s like living in a little Spanish village except I’m only two blocks from the Fontana Station on the green #3 line of the incredibly extensive Barcelona metro. I will be taking full advantage of the metro today in an attempt to give my biker’s legs a break from walking.

I haven’t done this much walking since I bought my bicycle in Valencia last December. I went out yesterday with only a couple of euro notes in my pocket and a metro card; no camera, no map, no guide book, and not even a wallet. Note to self: if you leave your metro card in your pocket it gets fucked up and doesn’t want to work in the newer turnstiles.

I have never liked walking mostly because my feet get hammered no matter what kind of shoes I am wearing. Sneakers, hiking shoes, comfortable shoes, it doesn’t matter; if I walk a lot my feet get destroyed. I have discovered that my feet get along with flip-flops during a long voyage so I guess all of my heavy walking needs to take place during the summer.

As comfortable as my feet were in the flip-flops, I still fantasized about jumping someone on a bike and high-jacking their wheels, like a cheetah taking down a gazelle. Then I woke up and remembered that as slow as I run these days I’d have a hard time running down a Spanish grandmother dragging her grocery cart. I still haven’t ruled out stretching a length of piano wire across a bike path and inheriting a bicycle. It would a cool, sort of Visigoth thing to do if I kept their head in the front basket of the bike as I rode around town. Visigoths still get a lot of respect in this area of Spain.

I just made a day of speed tourism, or just making the rounds and getting an eyeball of all of the major sights. I was like one of the double-decker tour buses except in my crappy pair of Chinese Wal-Mart 2.50€ flip-flops.

Barcelona is absolutely the coolest city I think I have ever visited. There is public art everywhere and the architecture has been on the cutting edge for centuries. Like Valencia, it is a major city with a great city beach that you can reach by metro. The climate is wonderful. Why don’t we all move here?

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