I promised you tales of our adventures in Spain and I will not renege. It turns out we chose a very exciting time to be in Spain.
We started in Barcelona on May 26, where protests against the government were in full swing. We saw a sort of tent city in Placa Catalunya, with handmade signs protesting just about everything you can think of from government cutbacks to navel lint. There were banners strung from every statue, water fountain, post and pole. Of course, the underlying causes of the protests are serious: Spain's overall unemployment rate is 21% and youth unemployment is over 43%. And in Europe, where they really know how to protest, sit-ins and marches took place in cities and towns all over Spain, and across the border in Portugal.
Early morning May 27, the police cleared the Barcelona encampment because (this is their stated reason) the next day Barcelona was playing in the final of the European Champions League. The Champions League is sort of like the Super Bowl of European soccer, only much, much bigger. It's maybe more like a mini World Cup, judging by what happened next. Ai yi yi! Barcelona won and the city went crazy. Car horns were honked, cherry bombs were set off, team jerseys were worn, a hell of a lot of alcohol was consumed and general pandemonium ensued. I've never seen or heard anything like it. We were in a restaurant when the game ended so, walking to dinner: normal; walking back from dinner: difficult. Streets blocked to motor traffic were immediately packed with revelers and we were funneled through a pedestrian police checkpoint where we were all made to open our purses (not Alan, of course). By the way, that tent city was cleared at 7 a.m. on the 27th and reconstructed by noon the same day. Busy little beavers, both the police and the protesters.
Please take note that we arrived in Barcelona on the evening of May 26 so the above were our first two days in Spain. On the third day, when the victorious Barcelonians were still blowing noisemakers and attempting to sit up for one more round of vino de la tierra, I woke up very sick, wobbled to the bathroom and passed out on the floor. Ironic, isn't it? What happened next must wait for the next blog entry so check back.