Roussilon and Back
On the Spanish side we stopped and walked in Girona, a charming town with upscale shops and a medieval Jewish quarter, El Call, that brings in a lot of tourist business today. The Call is situated on an steep, defensible hill with narrow cobbled streets, and there's a museum of Spanish Jewish life. Dan bought a book on the history of the Jews of Spain and I informed him of the various common spanish family names that were originally Jewish: Espinosa, Mendoza, Lopez, Perez, and of course my name, Colon. He's now eagerly searching for his Jewish ancestry under my tutelage.
Then drove back to Barcelona -- Dan's doing all the driving, by the way, because of rental insurance regulations, so it's lucky he's a former long distance trucker -- and explored a working class neighborhood on the Mediterranean shore, Barceloneta. It was a planned community for workers in the 18th century. Our ceramicist host Joanet had warned us it was very rough, very dangerous -- told us a story of an artist couple he'd hosted who had been beaten up there -- but we must have arrived too early in the evening for that. The place had a nice, homey feel -- we hung out in a bar watching clumsy basketball (Spain vs. Latvia) and good soccer (Madrid vs. Tenerife) on big-screen TV, then went to an overpriced Catalan seafoood restaurant. The neighborhood felt like what the mid-Bronx might feel like if it had narrower streets, was on a beach (which some of the Bronx is, actually), and for some unearthly reason became a tourist destination.
Tomorrow we're leaving early to drive to Madrid -- 8 hours of road time with nothing much of interest in between, sort of like driving across Texas -- so I probably won't be posting for a couple of days.
I found out that Catalan for ciao is "adieu."