The Last Few Days of BCN

The last 48 hours have been wonderful.

Yesterday I woke up with a nasty cold which totally took the wind out of my sails, but today I rallied and had a great time.

We walked all over Guell Parc yesterday which is beautiful park that was designed by Antoni Gaudi (a famous architect who created some of the strangest and most wonderful buildings in Barcelona). Guell is located in the hills overlooking Barcelona and to get there you need to hike up some pretty steep and narrow streets. Naturally, we stopped for gelato on the way up.

Gaudi designed the park using nature as a guide and the stuff he created is as weird and beautiful as the plants and trees that grow there. At one point: Mom, Cait and I stopped in a cave-like straight-outta-doctor-seuss structure to catch our breath (well, more like so I could sneeze ten times in a row and Mom could wilt against a column). As we rested a band started playing an all stringed cover band of really trite top 40 hits. Even though it was disappointing to hear Coldplay’s “When I Ruled the World” in the middle of Catalonia’s jewel of a city, there was something other worldly about listening to violins, a cello and a guitar’s music floating about the park. Like flies to shit, the once some-what empty cave became full of obnoxious tourists watching the band through their iPhones. My family and I agreed that had the band played some cool local song we would have been more impressed. We slowly rose to our feet and trotted out to look for a cool place to take pictures.

Today was a bit more of an adventure than yesterday (which was only a visit to Guell, a fabulous tapas dinner and a ride on a tour bus… you know, no big deal). On Saturdays, Barcelona blooms with street markets. There are white tents everywhere with people hawking all sorts of stuff from fresh bread to truffle scented cheese to hanging ropes of sausage to jewelry of all description: there was no end to the eye candy.

Mom went home to take and nap and Caitie and I set out to explore, meeting up with our friend Vivi who promised to take us to some of her favorite places in the city.

We walked along the side streets where the 6-story buildings carve large portions of the sky, leaving only a narrow river of blue above ones head  that weaves and curves as it moves in its own stream to wherever it pools into a large plaza. All senses are awakened in this city: the shadows, right angles, curves, monuments, trees, large windows, patterns, noises, smells, rough rocks and sand make excellent fodder for memories that will outlast all pictures.

I couldn’t stop looking at the dogs, for whatever reason all of the dogs in this town are happy and bouncy. The owners walk with no sense of hurry while the dogs slowly follow, tails in the air, sniffing as they please and smiling their doggy smiles at passerby’s.

We walked in the curvy streets until Vivi led us to a place known for their hot chocolates and creme. Inside, the waiters wore white shirts with black buttons and black bow ties and politely showed us to our seats. On our drinks, the cream was piled high and thick on a cappuccino sized cup that was filled with a rich dark chocolate drink. It was an incredible indulgence, and so rich I couldn’t finish.

On our walk again we passed stall after stall of merchants. The fashion of the day seems to be to take old silverware and create jewelry. There were necklaces made of forks and bracelets fashioned out of spoons. Each creation looked stranger than the next, especially when one genius thought to combine clock gadgets with a soup spoon to create a truly ridiculous yet beautiful metal ornament.

We wandered down La Rambla snapping photos of Teatros and Mercatos in vain. How can a photo hope to capture the smell of salt pork, the yellow of the facades, the feel of the cool Mediterranean breeze and the warmth of the sun dappled by the tall branches of the Platanus Hispanica trees that line the passages?

When we reached the marina, we continued on toward the beach, Vivi explaining excitedly about what the city is like in the summer. At the shore, I stuck my hand in the sea (I’ve never touched the Mediterranean before!) and watched a dog run in and out of the surf before rolling around in the sand and looking absolutely ecstatic about being alive. Agreeing that we all deserved a drink, we bought a round of Mojitos and found a place in the sand to sit and talk about our futures, sucking on our sweet and minty drinks while watching fishermen fling their bait into the turquoise water.

I’m going to miss Spain. I’m really looking forward to coming back one day and exploring the tiny villages that dot the shore along the sea. Vivi described such beautiful places and I can’t wait to not take pictures of them. Until then: Adios, Barcelona. You truly lived up the your reputation as a fantastic place to spend a few days and forget about how life “should” work back wherever you came from.

April 25, 2015 at 7:35 pm by Natalie Allen