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Barcelona: City in the spotlight

In an earlier blog, we noted our sadness with the terrorist attack that killed 13 people and injured at least 130 more in mid-August. With that tragedy still in mind, we flew into Barcelona Oct. 20 to begin our recent transatlantic Princess cruise to Fort Lauderdale.

In addition to that attack, Barcelona was at the center of the ongoing independence movement by the region of Catalonia. When we arrived, we wandered around the city to both combat the inevitable jetlag and to enjoy this very beautiful area. After checking in at the H10 Port Vell hotel, a modern facility located within walking distance of many points of interest, we began exploring.

When we got to La Rambla, scene of the attack, it was as crowded as it had been on our previous visit three years ago. This time, however, both police officers and military personnel heavily patrolled the area. It was a show of force that was, sadly, all too necessary in these times of terror attacks. Surprisingly, traffic still flowed on the nearby streets and the pedestrian area did not have any bollards or other impediments to keep vehicles from entering the area. Admittedly, the presence of so many armed personnel did seem to be a serious deterrent to any future attack.

Wandering the city (see photos on our Facebook page) we again enjoyed its beauty, its culture and its ambiance. We often just walk, with no real destination. Walking through the streets we saw people going through their daily routine with us wondering what it would be like to live there. That’s a question we’ve asked ourselves repeatedly in the many cities to which we have traveled.

On our walk, we ended up in a square in front of what we think was the regional governmental headquarters. Several TV crews were setting up for, we assume, coverage of the continuing issue of Catalonia’s independence. While we didn’t see any protests, we did see numerous flags of Catalonia flying from balconies. We later found out that the square was the scene of a massive demonstration just days after we left.

(In the realm of who would believe it: While walking down La Rambla on Friday night looking for a place to eat, someone touched Ellen's shoulder and said her name. With a look of concern, she turned to find it was our cruise friend Gary Oberst who, while sitting with wife Dee, saw us. We knew they were going to be on the cruise, but didn't expect to see them in Barcelona. Dinner with them was a great way to end the day and start the cruise. To Gary N Denise Obert: Great to see you again!)

The beauty of Barcelona is undeniable, and we hope that it will always remain a city of that beauty.

(Next up: Valencia)

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