Dispatch: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona: Hot, dusty, filled with buildings like sandcastles, endless balconies, winding alleys, Gaudi’s artwork, children playing soccer, twilight squares alive with people, good food, red wine, medieval architecture in the Gothic Quarter, beaches, mountains, museums, cathedrals, street cafes, chic women, charming men, festivals, music, fountains, hidden gardens, a city that is alive with all the good things Spain has to offer, a city with a heart that beats so fast and so vibrantly, it could eat up my own.
We arrived during the La Merce festival without knowing it and were treated to parades of people dressed up in amazing costumes. We saw giant kings and queens and watched the Gates of Hell open to release the devils for Correfoc, fireworks exploding everywhere. The crowds were stifling so we escaped as soon as we could and came upon a concert in a square where couples danced.
In the mornings, we slept in, then wandered down the street, stopping at cafes to sample freshly squeezed orange juice, bocadillos and croque-monsieurs. We walk down La Rambla and turn off into the Gothic Quarter. We find our way down to the port and snap pictures of the mountains and tiny, winding alleyways. We visit antique flea markets filled with rosary beads, little Spanish prayer books and tiny statuettes of the Virgin.
We ate. Tapas, pintxos, bread (endless bread!) paella, sweet pastries, gourmet chocolate cake and – of all things – an all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet, all washed down with wine (except for the buffet – it was a hangover cure and we could only stomach water and Coke). We go on tapas crawls well into the night, sitting at bars, eyeing mouth-watering selections of slices of bread topped with sundried tomatoes, seafood, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, olives and egg. We sit around squares, sipping cool drinks, watching children play and mothers laugh and boys lean over their motorcycles. Barcelona is alive well into the night.
We drink shots. We dance wildly. We arrive at the beach at night. We hike up to Parc Guell in the heat of the day, braving the intense sun to view the city from above, sheltering in the cool shade under brilliant mosaics as musicians play on the cello and street hawkers unveil jewellery upon blankets.
Walking through the streets, everywhere we come upon little squares and charming churches. Chic hotels and designer stores vie with Gaudi architecture – flowing sculpted sandcastles sprinkled with colorful mosaics like so many hundreds and thousands. We visit the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s magnum opus – still yet to be finished and so beautiful, an ode not just to religion but to nature, to Gaudi and to Barcelona.
And when we leave, there is still so much more to see, to do. And one day we will come back and do it all again.