Barcelona, Baby, You Just Get Me

 

I know now why everybody said I needed to come here. Barcelona wraps you in a tight hug of culture, art and architecture then never lets go. This is a place that will stand out brightly in my mind. It’s one of those places I could see myself living in. Don’t jump to conclusions! What I mean is, I just feel right here. Like I fit. Maybe it’s that slight New York feel about it that draws me in. Most certainly it’s the art and vibrance. The art of food, structure and canvas. It’s everywhere, all the time. What astounded me was how much the city had to offer in the way of tourism and far beyond that. I didn’t even know where to begin. Right away I hurried to book two nights on top of my initial two since I knew that alone wouldn’t be enough. 

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I had gone 24 hours without sleeping when I got off the plane and stepped into a new country. I always laugh at how unprepared I am when I switch gears. It’s always the same inner dialogue: “Crap, okay….hola…adios…how do you say can I have a glass of wine please?…vino por favour? Sure, that works! Good to go!” My tired self shuffled through google translator at 6am before I hit the pillow and fell asleep until 1 in the afternoon. When I awoke, I felt like a million dollars which I was thankful for because I was ready to take on a new place right away. It’s always so exciting exploring the food and mannerisms of a new culture. 
 
It was easy to see that Tapas was a huge deal here. If you’ve never heard of it, restaurants offer small appetizers like chorizo sausage on toast and serve it to you on a toothpick for a few Euros per piece. It lets you have a bit of everything but man does it ever hurt your wallet. One euro here, one euro there. I stopped thinking about it and went to a restaurant and ordered several traditional sounding bites. Image
 I spent the day scouting the neighbourhoods and narrowing down my choices of what I wanted to see in greater detail. Adorable brick walkways dominated the middle of almost every side street and big trees sheltered the sidewalks like umbrellas. The areas of town are all different, each holding a specific feel. Some were more run down and abandoned while others glimmered with smiling tourists and locals alike. Cute little shops filled with home made jewellery were at your fingertips. Honestly, I could stay in Barcelona for weeks and never do the same thing twice. 
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I thought I would end the night with something I had seen several videos of from my traveling friends. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Every 30 minutes this thing lights up and plays musicputting on a “show” to the rhythm. It was a pretty grand experience and people swarm there but everyone is singing loudly, arms around each other to the songs that they know and you couldn’t be in a happier place.ImageImage
 I was dying to visit an art gallery. There were at least six to choose from and probably hundreds more that were tucked away in secret corridors. I decided to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (the MACBA) and the Pablo Picasso Museum, the only one of its kind holding thousands of pieces by the artist. The contemporary museum was…contemporary. We’ve all seen one ourselves or at least seen a piece with that label. Some of the art was genius and others made me stand on my head trying to figure out what message they were trying to get across. How much could two dust pans and a mirror possibly say? I guess it meant something in someones brain. It was smaller than I would have liked because what content they did have was really interesting and I spent almost three hours walking around and looking at everything in detail. ImageImageImage
Walking to the next museum lead me to the Arc de Triomf. When you walk underneath it there’s a long strop lined with palm trees on either side that lead you to a gorgeous park and garden area. Everybody I saw was either roller blading or biking to get where they needed to be. It looked like the perfect spot to read or write. We suffered a lot of rain while I was in Barcelona but I was secretly thankful for it. I hadn’t seen rain since Rome. It made the days and nights chilly and the skies dark and gloomy. It provided some challenges for me in the photography area and sparked some ideas.
ImageImageThe Pablo Picasso Museum was a real treat. I waited in line for 2 hours but it was entirely worth it! I had no idea that he was such a diverse artist. I was familiar with his famous style of using squares and shapes to form a human face and the child like brush strokes that make up a series of his work are pretty famous. But that’s only one series. Picasso went through many, many stages of his work ranging from a ton of self portraits all representing a way in which he viewed himself to a very mature and realistic style of painting. You would never guess they were done by the same person. This museum held over 3 500 of pieces that Picasso had donated himself when it opened in 1963. That took me hours to walk through as well and accompanied by a handy audio guide, I learned a lot more than I knew coming in and developed a huge respect and love for this genius. 
 
There’s something amazing about festivals in European cities during a summer night. This is now the second one I’ve run into celebrating a saint. A little section of the city is covered in streamers, street performers, paper mache statues and a carnival. I spent my night walking around the crowded streets and taking in the atmosphere of dancing and laughter. It was contagious. Even I started to dance with the people around me a bit. There was a moment where I looked to every side of me and saw so many different people dancing with their families, their kids and the people they loved. It was so beautiful to watch and after I walked through and smiled along with everyone else, I had to capture it somehow. I took a short video of the moment and if I was able to upload it quickly, I would love to share it. Just imagine that everywhere you turn, people are smiling while the traditional music plays. They’re throwing their kids up in the air and giggling with their best friends. Even a few older ladies were showing off their moves. I’ll need to find a way to show you eventually but for now, just try to feel that. 
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I got up bright and early the next morning to walk down La Rambla, a famous street in the city centre covered in trees and street vendors. Once again, heading back to the theme of New York, it reminded me so much of The Mall. I loved the vibe there and when I reached the end, I turned back to walk it again. On the way down the path, I noticed a market area busy with people. Am I ever glad I turned around and was able to experience this. When I say experience, I really mean it. It’s an adventure walking through this place. I have never seen so much colour and life in one area. I can’t think of a single food or candy that they didn’t sell. There were stands filled with the brightest and freshest fruit, cups of fruit, smoothies, chocolate and ice-cream, nuts and berries, burritos, plates of fried food and seafood. The list goes on and on and on. I was overwhelmed with pure joy. Not only did I have a ball photographing but I had a heck of a good time eating. I’m not sure how I came to a decision but I ended up ordering one of these. ImageThe lady gave me two forks which either meant she thought I was sharing or she was embarrassed that I wasn’t. I should have gone back to show her the empty container. I ended up going back to that market several times because I could’t get enough of it. It stands as a top favourite here. Try to experience it for yourself. Just imagine walking through this! ImageImageImage
 One of the most famous buildings in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia. It’s designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi who is also the designer of several other famous monuments in the city. He has a very particular style that I learned was inspired heavily by nature. He often took walks with his mother as a young boy which is where his interest came from. You could see that influence heavily in the way this place was built. I walked in and it took the cake for the best basilica I’ve seen yet. It even beat the cathedral in Florence. I couldn’t believe this was something somebody built and designed. It was so intricate and for some reason it looked to me like everything was melting. All the colours and lines worked together to create such amazing patterns and the stain glass windows shone brightly in every dark space casting a rainbow light. It gets to me every time I see a place like this. I hope the people who live here truly know how lucky they are. 
 
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Today was my final day and I think I had a pretty good send off. I spent the afternoon touring around this old Spanish village called Poble Espanyol. It’s an architectural museum that’s open to the public and has been preserved for years. It was perfect and adorable. I walked around and looked at all the shops then enjoyed some delicious food. 
You could spend an entire day there doing both of those things excessively. Shopping and eating.
Image My evening was a definite highlight. Casa Batllo is another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. His style couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else’s. This building is full of character and was even more spectacular at night. That’s why I decided to attend what they call a Magic Night filled with live music, drinks and food. I sit here writing this down on a page in my tattered journal while sipping champagne. I just listened to some opera that is impossible to capture with words. I am in a state of art appreciation in a building like this. It’s got a quirky side right along with a classy one. Even though I’m dressed in a skirt I’ve worn multiple times this week and my feet are rocking burks, I still feel elegant. ImageImageImage
 There is so much laying ahead of me right now. I set off tomorrow on a huge walk through Spain that is bound to make a mark on my life. What more could the world have in store for me? What is it going to show me this time? Keep reading tomorrow for a little more detail on where I’ll be going and why.
 
Thank you Barcelona for showering me with the things that I love and for all the inspiration. 
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