The Catalonia Region of Spain (Barcelona, Montserrat)

For her 40th birthday, I took my wife to Spain. We flew to Barcelona where I expected not to understand anyone and to be afraid to drink the water. The surprise was on me as Barcelona turns out to be a very cosmopolitan city. It's closest American equivalent might be San Francisco based on the arts, diversity and cultural refinement, though it many ways it was more "proper" than our California coast.

The most surprising about the region is the scope of radically differing terrain. The Mediterranean coast was dotted with regular "beach towns" of villas and tourist meccas, but only turn away from the coast headed north and you're facing flat-topped volcanic plateaus. Pass those and you're winding on roads that frighten billy-goats. Out of the mountains and into the flatlands through fields of blooming poppies and peppered with unhurried cows, the hills begin to roll once again, each topped with a town grown out of the shape of the hillsides. Further down the same highway, mountains of rock tower above with their enormous rounded fingers clawing to escape the earth itself.

N152 Map

To begin with, there is a road innocently named "N152". The first image is this road the way that map-makers see it. Winding and wandering comfortably through lovely villages alongside a nice little railroad.

N152 Satellite

Here is N152 as God sees it. The winding little road clings to the knife edge of a mountain and occasionally tosses rocks at the nice little railroad which is an alarming distance below. That the billy goats are terrified may perhaps be an exaggeration - but they certainly looked nervous.

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