Barcelona was the total dessert to the meal of our trip to Spain. I could really see coming back here to live for a while (maybe a year or so) to explore in depth its many charms. People who know me know I am a bit of a foodie, and I have to say that Barcelona is hands down the easiest city to have a good meal in anywhere in Europe, beating out even Paris. In the six days we have been here, and all the multiple meals and tapas, we have had only one disappointment. In a lot of ways, Barcelona reminds me of my beloved San Francisco, not just in the fantastic food but also in the culture in evidence out in the streets. There is both a free spirit vibe here as well as its sadder cousin the homeless/street hippie vibe. This is a casual city where everyone is casually dressed. Whatever pretension there is doesn’t seem to be so much bound up in consumption and its ostentation. The city has a (perhaps overly) fiercely independent spirit, evidenced in their cultural pride (language, food, institutions) as well as by the many Catalonian flags that hang from so many of the buildings. I know that this strong regionalism rubs many in the rest of Spain the wrong way, but it is part of what gives Barcelona its pride of place and cultural interest, a kind of country within a country. Barcelona manages to be both modern and historic at the same time, never falling into the trap of being a museum city. It is alive and welcoming and makes me want to return soon. Tomorrow we will fly back to Paris for a few days, and then back to New York, which I have to admit I am starting to miss just a little bit.