What I thought I knew vs. what I experienced now
I'm amused that I have to reconcile my childhood understanding of Spain. Children's shows taught me that Spain was full of funny speaking animals and random impressions of flamenco dancers. As a young adult, some of the imagery of dancers persisted in mainstream movies, which also stereotyped bull fights and romantic lovers.
There are indeed shadows of these images still present today. Bull fighting stadiums exist, and I found one modest shop for flamenco dance wear. Even the airport gift shops carries bull fighter gifts and flamenco dresses geared toward children. But in Barcelona, the lifestyle is clearly modern, diverse, and international.
The only connection to my childhood education about Spain that still remains is to the California mission architecture. Traveling through the countryside by train, I saw many simple farmhouses and churches with similar building techniques and materials. We won't get into the whole mission history, but I'm pleased to experience Spain with a new found appreciation.