Random Catalunya/Spain stuff:
1) The most common word you will hear daily in Catalunya (and I think the rest of Spain, but I'm not sure about this) is vale, pronounced "ball-eh" and meaning "OK". Example...when someone is talking to a friend on her mobile (never called a cell phone here) she will say, "Vale, vale, vale..."
2) A Spanish tortilla has absolutely no resemblance to a Mexican tortilla. The latter do not exist here except in the import aisle at large grocery stores. A Spanish tortilla is more like a fat omelette or a quiche made with potatoes and eggs and is the shape of the pan it was cooked in.
3) Beans are called "alubias" in Spain, not "frijoles" like in Latin American Spanish.
4) A GPS is an invaluable device to have when driving in Spain (or elsewhere in Europe). You can buy one here or buy a Europe or Spain chip for one you bring from the U.S. or elsewhere. It helps to know that it is often more fruitful to use Catalan spelling rather than Castellano (Spanish) because the GPS can find the former better. For example, one of our GPS devices can't find Plaza Catalunya but can find the Catalan spelling Placa Catalunya.
5) Places for paella in Barcelona recommended by local Catalans...
Chiringuito Escriba in Barcelonetta near the sea, Ronda Litoral, 42, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
7 Portes (Siete Portes in Castellano, Set Portes in Catalan). A local friend told me this is THE best paella in Barcelona. I haven't tried it yet. Pg. Isabell II, 14, 08003 Barcelona, Spainhttp://www.7portes.com/catala/libro.php
6) Great day trips in Catalunya...
We were trying to find a "witches forest" with numerous giant, prehistoric rocks. This place is not on a map we had only hand-written directions from a friend. We missed the turn off and instead drove a few kilometers up the road. We pulled over to find the gorgeous and large lake Panta de Sau hidden behind bushes! A sign indicated that a monastery was nearby so we decided to take a look. St. Pere de Cassere is a Bendictine monestary with a history dating back to the late 800's. It sits on a beautiful ridge dividing the El Ter river that drains into lake Panta de Sau. There are building from the 11th century submerged in the lake. I was impressed by the stunningly beautiful, unspoiled, natural scenery. I could only imagine that the same lake elsewhere would be exploited for recreation and filled with boats and jet skis. You can hike (riiiiiight...) up or drive and park in a lot. Make sure to pay attention to the time because the entrance gate near the main road gets locked at certain posted hours. There is a reasonable entrance fee that is well worth it. There is a bar/restaurant on the monastery property and a restaurant on the main road overlooking the lake. We did not eat at either of them so I can't offer a critique. On the way back we did find the rocks, some with prehistoric paintings, and a small chapel high on a ridge apparently maintained by the rock climbers that frequent the spot. From Barcelona head to Vic, pas though town further in the direction of Roda de Ter. After some miles/kilometers on this road, make a right turn at Tevernoles (this small road leads to the parador de Vic/Sau and tp Panta de Sau), pass the village of Tevernoles and after many curves there is a small dirt parking area (hard to see, we missed the first time) on the left hand side of the road. Savassona Castle (we didn't visit but probably worth it) is directly opposite on the right hand side. A small walk-through metal swinging gate and a little handwritten sign that says "Pedra de Sacrificis 300m...aprox..." at the parking area leads to the path to the "witches" forest, the giant rocks and the chapel. Other great visits nearby or on the way from or back to Barcelona is the town of Vic (pronounced Bic). Visiting these small, lesser known places and towns really gives one an idea of the true Catalunya outside the confines or the tourist areas.
Santa Pau is a well preserved still thriving Medieval village in the volcanic zone of Garrotxa Natural Park. You can find this one on a map or GPS. There are several restaurants in the village. It was fun to drive our large modern car through the very narrow village streets. There is a nice dirt parking lot at one end of the village where we had a picnic in the back of our car. Two horses grazed in a small field next to the parking lot. A company offers Segway tours. We had the great pleasure to see a bachelor party heading out on Segways. The groom was in a "pretty" pink dress! There are hiking trails nearby and recreational area in neighboring town of Olot.