FROM MILAN TO BARCELONA: WHERE IS THE RECESSION?
OK I donâ€™t have any numbers to back this up, and it is totally flying by the seat of my pants, but after 5 days in Milan and 3 days in Barcelona I am not sure I am seeing a recession hitting hard in Europe. In Milan the Duomo was crawling with Italian and foreign tourists, fashion boutiques were busy.
In Barcelona in the Born Ribera area where we have been staying there have been loads of Spanish tourists and plenty of other Europeans on the streets and at the tourist sites around town. Restaurants are packed too.
These arenâ€™t the Ã¼ber-rich who always escape economic downturn, there are plenty of lower and upper middle class people about spending their money at cafÃ©s. Prices seem to be holding steady, although hotels in Barcelona have been discounting apparently. Go figure. Maybe somebody reading this has the numbers and can fill in? Or perhaps it is just an Easter phenomena.
Who are missing to a large extent are the Americans. But the rest of the world seems to be here making up for it. And of course Obama and Michelle are â€˜doing Europeâ€™ too.
Whatever the case, the Catalan spirit seems to holding together as much as ever, and we saw plenty of people jumping into to join the traditional Sardana dance where strangers and friends alike join hands in a circle (shopping bags in a heap in the middle!) in the public squares of Barcelona. The atmosphere is warm, foreigners and locals alike delight.
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