Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Everything is expensive in Switzerland, and despite this being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, that includes Internet access. Earlier today in a Pakistani-owned cell-phone-store-cum-Internet-cafe in Barcelona I paid 50 Euro cents for a half-hour of access; tonight in my hotel in Zürich I'm paying 8 Swiss francs for a half-hour on their wi-fi access. Such is the price of Internet addiction.

But enough bitching. I have two things to be happy about: I get to go home and sleep in my own bed tomorrow after over a month on the road, and I just finished up three days in one of the best cities I've ever visited. Barcelona really does have it all: art museums, punk clubs; historic churches, Richard Meier buildings; youth culture, old men's cafés; the ocean and the mountains; Catalunyan pride, international flavor. If I had a good reason, I would move there in a minute. Highlights for me included the modern art museum, the MACBA; a great little indie record store called Revolver Records (I picked up a reissue of a 1960s Skatalites LP as well as the latest Belle & Sebastian single); a cable-car ride across the mouth of the harbor to a little mountaintop café overlooking the whole city; and of course spending time with the inimitable Tracy Brooks Landers. Brooks and I stayed in a divey ho(s)tel just off the Rambla, the main pedestrian corridor through a very pedestrian-friendly town. The Rambla is like a three-lane highway for walkers bordered by one lane of motor vehicle traffic on each side, and it's full of street performers, vendors, and sidewalk cafés. As great as it is, it's full of tourists and you hear as much English there as Spanish and Catalán, so you definitely have to hit the un-beaten path as well. By this afternoon, I felt like I knew a 20-block radius of my hotel as well as I know Boston or Denver.

Zürich is just a brief stopover, the place I stored my luggage while traveling and the United hub I had to fly home from. I've just about finished my drink in the hotel bar, so it's time to sign off for the night and get some sleep in my post-modern Swiss hotel room.

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