Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Return to Barcelona: Sant Cugat

I spent last week in Sant Cugat del Valles, a suburb outside of Barcelona, on business. This was my second trip to Spain and my second time staying in Sant Cugat. While Barcelona has many sights to see, I have to say I like being able to come back to a quiet little village for the evenings and see Spanish life as it is from the overwhelming crush of humanity that is Barcelona. The rail service makes it easy to get in and out of the city, so you get to see two sides of Spain on one trip. Since my business trips tend to be pretty short (no more than 6 days, usually), this arrangement works pretty well.

Now I have to say that the hotel at which I've stayed the past two times is a bit too... Eurochic for me. However, it's smack in the middle of Sant Cugat, which means you're within walking distance of shops, cafés, restaurants, and other sights. The hotel is at the bottom of a hill below the Monestir de Sant Cugat del Valles.

Regardless of how well the hotel is placed, the decor is a bit much. It truly reminds me of something out of a 1970s Bond movie. In fact, I think it's intentional. On arrival, I noticed these interesting vases at the registration desk:



Yes, semi-automatic pistols as vases. I really should've taken more photos, but you can check out the lobby here. If you like Eurochic, this place is for you. If you're more of the traditional, tea-and-crumpets Chateau Frontenac set, it might not be your thing. But the staff is friendly, and the price is pretty good if you book via the Web.

While I was still lively, I decided to walk around and reorient myself. I seem to be pretty good about remembering my way about places. That's helpful in European locations, where street layouts defy the laws of nature and human planning. First, I walked up to the monastery and took a few photos.

If you go to the Wikipedia entry, you'll see some great shots, but here's one that you will probably not see, the monastery's foodbank in action:



Surely, it's not an impressive shot, but I was heartened to see the Church doing in Spain much the same as what it does here in the US.

The art exhibits don't seem to move around as much either, and I'm not sure if it's just something about the people wo run this particular museum in Sant Cugat. I never once managed to find it open (even during posted hours), and this particular exhibit has been running since last year at this time.



Yes, that is what you think it is: hands extended and shaking from the area where the genitalia should be. Perhaps it's best that I didn't get into the museum after all.

As I walked back through the village to see wat had changed over the past year (very little), I saw this storefront and had to capture it for my daughter's sake.



While she no longer sports the Hello Kitty bedroom decor, she's still a little wistful about HK. I'm almost tempted to buy her one of these. Heck, if this young lady can learn to field strip and reassemble an AR-15 in one minute, I imagine my girl will do just fine.

What does this have to do with Sant Cugat? Uh... not a thing.

Anyway, I made my way back to the Palaçe de Potmodernisme a la Sant Cugat, had a glass of wine, and fell promptly asleep.

Next: Scenes from the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia and Various Locations
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