Monday, June 06, 2005

Last month in Empurias

This page of last month's blog was lost in cyberspace, so I'm posting it again...

8 May 2005
The weather is beautiful here in Barcelona: warm days with blue skies and a cool breeze. Its a gem of a city with hidden courtyards, palm trees and the most beautiful architecture I have seen in a long time.

Yesterday Helen, (one of three librarians from the American School of Barcelona), took me to the ruins of a Greco-Roman port about two hours north of here. Emporias was first founded by the Greeks of Asia Minor in around 600 BC so its the first classical site in Spain. Later, in the mid 5th century BC the Greeks founded a second port on the land and called it Neapolis (which means New City). Then, in the 3rd century BC the Romans took over after their victory over Hannibal.

The site is stunning. Situated on the coast by the deep blue Med and fringed by umbrella pines, it reminds me of Ostia. Not as nice and not as big, but still impressive. You can see mosaics, statues, even the channel for the latrines. We wandered around for a couple of hours and sat through a fun audio visual show about the founding and development of the site. 

The museum was good but the gift shop was better. I got a replica Alexandrian perfume vase, a tiny clay oil lamp, and a bronze pendent like the one Lupus gets at the beginning of Colossus!

That evening, back in Barcelona, all three librarians took me out to dinner at a Catalan specialty restaurant. I had grilled artichoke and aubergine with goats' cheese on top. There are three librarians because two are part-time and one is on maternity leave. Lorena, the one on maternity leave, is letting me use her little apartment in the old area of Barcelona, just a stones throw from Las Ramblas, the famous street with flower and bird markets and near the Miro mosaic.

Today one of the librarians took me on a tour bus around Barcelona and up to the Archaeological Museum to see the bits of Empurias that were brought here.

I have discovered that ostia is a very rude word in Spanish. I guess I'll have to tone it down by just saying Ostia Antica all the time.

On my first night here, Lorena showed me a tiny vegetarian restaurant near the apartment. Its called Juicy Jones and is a sort of cave with psychedelic walls and delicious food. Also when you go to eat dinner at the horribly unsocial hour of 7.00pm (most Spaniards would not dream of sitting down to dinner before 9.30) nobody can see you!

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