07/24/2014 05:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Barcelona Journal III: Placa d'Espanya


Just a few steps from the Catedral de Barcelona an English couple are fighting. He has tattooed arms and her face is covered with a hat. Hoards of tourists feed from the Portal de l'Angel into the square in front of the cathedral, but on a hot afternoon it's strangely empty and the arguing couple have their moment in the limelight, he raising his voice in contrast to her growing reticence and obvious embarrassment. It's a welcome interlude for excitement junkies who tire of the endless beauty and architectural invention on display. But if you're spending time in Barcelona and you need a real respite from tourists, imposing structures, museums and historical monuments, shoot over to the Placa d'Espanya, which will make you feel grateful the eccentricities of Barcelona that in their super abundance you might have previously taken for granted. A functional modern hotel sits in front of a traffic circle off of which are streets with names like Creu Colberta and Career de Sant Roc which boast nameless pizzerias, hot dog stands and emporiums selling Oriental bric a brac. Sant Roc leads into another side street named Career de Leiva which characterized by purely functional buildings that have managed to remain impervious to Barcelona's architectural heritage. Two young women in cut off jeans revealing tattooed thighs, which seem to be a fashion statement for many Barcelona teens, avert their gazes as they navigate their colorless surroundings.

Photo: Catedral de Barcelona

This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture