Postcard courtesy of Michelle Mock

One short block from Las Ramblas, you will find Plaça Reial. It has many restaurants and tapas bars and one of the many places in Barcelona you can sit and "people watch". Tapas are small dishes of typically Spanish food to snack on. Items are frequently finger foods and served 3-5 to a plate. Some of my favorite tapas are tortilla española (Spanish egg and potato omlette), gambas (shrimp), jamón serrano (smoked, dry, Spanish ham), chorizo and so many other tasty things! Your Coca Cola is typically served ice cold with a slice of lemon.

One of the things that changed the most in Barcelona since I lived their in the late 1960s, is the language. After Francisco Franco (the Spanish dictator) passed away in 1975, the formerly Spanish speaking province went back to using Catalán, the official language of the provinces in the region known as Cataluña. During Franco's rule, Castellano (Castillian Spanish) was the official language of all of Spain. All the street names, monuments and places of interest are now referred to by their Catalán name. I found it difficult to ask for directions and to find street names.

It is important to note that Catalán is a language, not a dialect. It is similar to Spanish but, to me, feels more like a cross between French, Portuguese and Spanish but still quite different. Catalanes typically learn Spanish and Catalán and also learn English in school. Many are fluent in at least three languages.

Caption: Plaça Reial, Barcelona's Plaza Real.


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