This past week was spring break, and not so coincidentally, it was also one of the most perfect weeks I’ve had in a long time. I headed out to Catalunya and visited with almost-relatives and old friends. I can’t even attempt to give a play-by-play of the week, but I’ll try and come up with a highlight reel. For the most part I was in Barcelona, staying with the parents of my Catalan aunt, Salvador and Vicenta. I knew I had made some good spring break plans when I showed up at their apartment on Sunday night, literally on the waterfront in the Barceloneta neighborhood. My first night there I spent sitting in their living room, listening to the waves. On Monday I went for a stroll, heading by the Plaça Catalunya and the Passeig De Gracies before finding a place in front of the Born market to have a coffee and read. That night I met my “pseudocousins” Julia and Claudia, who took me around the city a little bit. Tuesday morning I went for a fantastic run along the beach, and then I visited the Centro de Arte Santa Mónica, a smallish art museum at the foot of the Ramblas. The coolest thing I saw there was a collection of sculptures made as a project in an architecture school. What makes these so interesting is that they were all inspired by various microorganisms. What’s more, there is a good deal of mathematics that goes into their design; some were made by creating a triangular pattern, covering an icosahedron with the pattern, then projecting this onto a sphere to make the final sculpture. You can find some photos on Facebook.
Wednesday I traveled to Vic to visit with Ignasi, Goreti, their son Alan and his girlfriend Silvia, with whom I stayed in 2005. Ignasi and I caught up briefly but a Barça game against Arsenal was due to start soon so we rushed off to meet up with Alan and Silvia. I watched the game with him in a bar along with thirty or so of the most maniacal soccer fans I have ever met in my life. Barça ended up tying the game, but since they scored two goals in an away game, my primitive understanding of league soccer rules leads me to believe that this was a pretty good outcome. Thursday morning Ignasi and I drove over to Manlleu to visit with my old guitar teacher. We quickly established that I remembered absolutely nothing of what he taught me and that further, several months of being away from the guitar wreaked certain havoc with my basic skills, but all was forgiven and he even gave me a copy of his CD. I had a nice lunch with everybody before taking the bus back to Barcelona for a final night with Salvador and Vicenta. Salvador and I watched the Barcelona basketball team handle Madrid to advance to the European Final Four.
One constant feature of the trip was a sort of experimentation among my hosts to see how much food they could get into my stomach – it was here that I experienced my very first four-course breakfast. All of the food was of course fantastic and the quantity of jamon serrano that I consumed brilliantly reaffirms my belief that pig is in fact the tastiest animal. Pa amb tomaquet remains a perennial favorite (it means “bread with tomato” and is precisely that, plus a little olive oil and salt. Try it – it will rock your world). Other discoveries include fuac, a type of cured sausage, and the simple power of the truita frances - an omelette with potatoes and caramelized onions. It can also be safely said that Spanish wine is orders of magnitude better than its Hungarian competitors.