Back in the saddle

Just back from an eight day vacation in Spain.   After six months or so of heavy lifting, it was good to get away.  I come back to a few hundred emails and a backlog of project work – but that’s what keeps food on the table.

A couple of observations about Spain.  Pooper scooper by-laws are absolutely a must over there.  At least in Paris, the dogs have to poop in a certain place along the sidewalk.  In Spain, there was poop everywhere – in the subway, on stairs, everywhere.  I told my wife there are two kinds of people in this world: those who look up at the beautiful sights and those who look down to avoid stepping in poop.  Thankfully, her and I are opposites.

There seemed to be increased petty crime in Barcelona.  We didn’t get robbed but we met/talked with several people who did – one lady twice in one week.  This is likely a by-product of the 20% unemployment and it rarely becomes violent – but it will restrict tourists as this gets around.

We spent some time in a beautiful village on the Mediterranean Sea (Cadaqués) and I couldn’t help thinking that while the architecture was different and the weather, this was a lot like many charming fishing villages along the coast of Nova Scotia.  Warmer, as my wife points out, but similar.

The Catalonia area of Spain has other similarities to this region including a minority language population.  37% of the population speaks Catalan – similar to the population of New Brunswick that speaks French.  Both languages are widely used – on TV, signage, all the museum literature had both languages.  The big difference is that Catalan is almost a Chiac.    If you see a sentence in Catalan, you see both Spanish and French influences.

I listened to a pile of podcasts on the 12 hour trip over and back.   I will be blogging on some of the topics later this week.

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2 Responses to Back in the saddle

  1. Totally agree with you on the dog poop thing. It makes parks there almost unbearable, which is too bad, because they have some very good parks.

  2. mikel says:

    Canadians are VERY strange, you can ask anybody new to the country. I remember two jamaicans delivering a bed for us in February and I offered them a glass of water and they were amazed we had our cooler on-cold water in winter! They said they were already freezing!

    In Ireland its beer cans. Beer cans EVERYWHERE, and they really don’t seem to care. But I remember a woman online who was starting a campaign to make it illegal to spit in public in Saskatchewan. So we really are a very anal people. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and who cares if our water is full of chlorine or hydrofluorisilic acid-as long as it LOOKS clean.

    That’s bad dude when you return from Barcelona and your blog is about dog pop and petty crime! This is actually a good example of Richard Florida’s thesis (maybe thats why you don’t talk about it), because MILLIONS of europeans each year travel to Barcelona for ONE thing-the architecture. And the architecture of ONE guy-Antoni Gaudi. However, that has stretched out and you can notice that artists sponsor murals on the walking paths. I remember in Switzerland where I was so surprised that this almost fanatically aryan population had graffiti as an art form all along its train corridors.

    Here in canada and even the US art really is something that is ‘taken away’ from people, and it makes our cities VERY boring. Waterloo is currently undergoing HUGE growth in the west, its like a whole new city-and the newest plaza’s all look identical with identical stores. No wonder there is so much animosity to Florida’s ideas-“culture? we’ve got shopping to do!”

    They actually consider it insulting if you travel around the mediterrean and not get robbed. My in laws were set up in the red light district of Paris. This was early days when they would set up a fake ATM, you would walk up to it, your card gets stuck, a ‘friendly’ parisian who speaks no english would ‘help’ you, while it reads your card and makes a duplicate. Within 12 hours their money was gone. But it was insured so they got it back and thats pretty much the ONLY story they now remember of their trip.

    We had thought of going to the south of France, and a travel guide from the library stated matter of factly “you WILL be robbed in the south of France”-there is no point in pretending it won’t happen, so be prepared for it. Of course here in Canada our possessions are practically part of our holy bodies. You even here people talking about a break and enter like its rape or something. These are just many of the reasons that its nice to travel-you find out just how strange we are. What’s really odd is that so much of our culture comes from Ireland, and early on the irish were only next to natives for disrespect of property rights.

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