Spring Break in Barcelona, part V

Steve Reed, Cottey's director of public information, traveled in Barcelona, Spain, with Cottey students, faculty and staff over spring break. He reported back with a series of articles written as letters home to his mother. This is the fifth of five letters.

Buenos Dias, Mama!

It is our last day in Barcelona, and there is still so much I want to do. There is not enough time for it all.

Today is a free day, and everyone is able to choose what they will do today before our farewell dinner this evening. Priscilla and some students are going to visit an amusement park on Tibideo (the mountain-more like a very big hill-just up from our hotel). A group of students are going for a boat tour on the Mediterranean; and many others are out to enjoy some time at the beach and shopping. My goals for the day are to see the Picasso Museum in the morning, join a couple of colleagues for lunch at a craft brewery, and perhaps visit Casa Mila, one of the Guadi-designed houses, this afternoon. Of course you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

Our tour guides warned me that the Picasso Museum would be very busy on a Saturday. That was an understatement. The small street in front of the museum was jampacked with folks wanting to get in. The museum only lets a designated number of visitors in each hour and a display shows how many tickets are available for each time. With the long line in front of me, it was apparent I was not getting in before 1 p.m. and I had lunch plans.
A beautiful alley on the way to the museum.

I decided to buy a ticket for 3 p.m. This allowed me more than enough time to meet friends for lunch and still get back to the museum. I bought souvenirs for Angie and for my next-door neighbor Maggie who is kind enough to collect my mail when I am off having adventures. I found a cool ceramics shop a couple doors down from the museum and got a couple of colorful figurines. Angie is getting a three-inch chicken that looks as though Gaudi decorated it with mosaic tiles. Don't laugh; my wife has a couple of folk art chickens on display at her house that she loves.

I walked to Blacklab Brewery and Kitchen which is an American-style brew pub. This makes total sense because the owner is from Minnesota. I was a few minutes early and waited out front for my lone colleague who decided to join me. A few minutes later, she sent a text letting me know she was in a taxi and would be there in five minutes. Over 10 minutes later, I texted and asked where she was. She let me know she had just pulled up and it was closed. I was totally confused because I was standing right outside the open door and had watched several customers go in and out. As it turns out, she had gotten confused and was at a place called Brew Dog. She sent a follow-up text letting me know she was in another taxi and would be there soon.

It was about 1 o'clock when we were actually seated inside. Remember what I said about best-laid plans, Mama? It was all good as I had plenty of time to eat some lunch and get back to the museum.
Barcelona craft brewery owned
by a Minnesotan

I had Buffalo wings for lunch, and though they were good, they were not like Buffalo wings in the States. For starters, they aren't nearly as spicy as we like them back home. In fact, the Spanish don't have anything particularly "piquante" or spicy. Some of us were having tapas one day and the vendor kept warning us that the slices of sausage on top were piquante, but I didn't think they were very hot or spicy. Here in America, we'd call those sausages “a good start towards spicy.”

One of my favorite things about these trips is the opportunity to get to know my colleagues better. It's not like we hang out at work for long, leisurely lunches and dinners with nothing else to do but visit. I am fortunate to work with so many bright and interesting people who lead such fascinating lives.

After lunch it was back to the museum. Most of the works on display are from earlier in Picasso's career. One of the reasons so many of his more famous works are in other museums is because Picasso was a very outspoken opponent of General Franco after the Spanish Civil War. As such, Franco refused to let Picasso's works be displayed in Spain. Picasso left Spain and never returned. Fortunately, Picasso's friends worked to create this museum and find pieces for it.

It's fascinating to see how his work evolved from small dark paintings into larger brighter images during his blue and rose periods and then into the cubist works he is best known for. It is a great little museum and one you can spend a full hour exploring and feel as though you truly had time to enjoy the works.
Finally, churros and chocolate!

After I left the museum, there was no time to visit another tourist attraction, but there was one more item on my list to check off: churros and chocolate. Every time I tried to make that happen, the churro places were closed. I was either catching them on the afternoon siesta or after they had closed for the evening. Churros are cylinders of fried dough sprinkled with sugar and sometimes cinnamon. The chocolate, though, is not like the hot chocolate we drink here. Think of it as hot, thick chocolate pudding. You dip your churros into the chocolate and eat them. So good!

One of the tour guides recommended a churros place called Dulcinea, named after the character in Don Quixote, I suppose. I walked up to the doors literally as the shop was opening for business. I walked in, sat down, and the place was full within five minutes! I was so happy to finally get Spanish churros and chocolate.

After making my taste buds happy, it was back to the hotel to change for dinner. Casa Mila will have to wait for another trip.

All of us were bused to a very nice restaurant called Citrus. Everyone looked so nice all dressed up, and the best part about this place was that the food just kept coming! First we had prawns on a stick, then we had something like eggs Benedict with avocado, and then it was a Spanish egg roll. I think there was something else before the main course, but I don't recall. I had the fried chicken, which was actually sesame-seed covered strips of chicken coved with prawns. It came with mashed potatoes as well. For dessert we had a mango sorbet in a thick, sweet mango sauce. Oh my; I could get used to eating like that!

Cottey students all dressed up and waiting for their farewell dinner.
Before the evening was over, we had a small farewell for Dr. Mari Anne Phillips who is retiring at the end of this academic year. Then the students presented our tour guides, Anne and Ana, with giant rubber ducks they had all signed. I guarantee we were the first tour group to present them with giant ducks!

Too soon we were back on the buses to the hotel to pack and prepare for the long trip back home. We all miss our families and are looking forward to seeing them, but we have enjoyed our Barcelona adventure and wish we could linger here just a little longer. I look forward to seeing you soon and sharing all of my photos with you.

Hasta maƱana,

Your loving son,



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