Here are some leftover thoughts that didn't make it into the first entry about Barcelona.
The Metro here – the subway – is designed for lefties. The place to enter the ticket is to the left of the turnstile. This caused me no end of confusion when I tried to walk through the wrong turnstile for about thirty seconds until somebody pointed out my mistake. Ned Flanders would like it here.
While in most subways, the doors open automatically as soon as the car stops, in both Madrid and Barcelona, the doors on the Metro cars don't open until somebody presses a button or turns a lever, so the first person in line has that responsibility. I don't know why this is the case, but it too caused me some trouble when I stood there waiting and wondering why the door didn't open.
Barcelonans are very proud of their Catalonian heritage and the Catalan language. When I was here three years ago, the street signs were in Castillian Spanish, with Catalan sometimes underneath. Now, they're only in Catalan. It's sort of the opposite of what takes place in the United States. In the US, immigrants often intentionally leave behind their home languages in order to better assimilate. In many parts of Europe, including Ireland, the Basque country, and Catalonia, old languages are being brought back. The common factor in these locations is that they are languages that were suppressed; in Ireland, by the English, in Spain, by General Franco.
Tapas, or Pintxos, as the Barcelonans call them, are more elaborate and more expensive in Barcelona than they are in other parts of Spain.
It's very hot everywhere, even in so-called air conditioned locations. I guess they didn't get the memo from Miami that when it's hot outside it's supposed to be frigid indoors. It's late September, and it's still hard for me to get used to the heat. Strangely, Spaniards seem to never wear shorts. They must have thinner blood than I do.
There are tons of street performers in Barcelona. Some of them are very talented musicians or jugglers or what-not, but others seem to be lacking in the talent department. There is an entire section of Las Ramblas populated by "performers" who do nothing but dress in funny costumes and just stand there. Some of them are good at standing stock-still and surprising passerbys. Some do little dances and make faces. Others just look bored, as I imagine I would be, too. They must make a living at it, though, since there is no shortage of them. It's good to know if the whole software-engineering thing doesn't work out, I can always dress as a Leprechaun and stand on a streetcorner for money.