Barcelona – How can I forget

Barcelona, such a beautiful horizon

Barcelona like a jewel in the room

If God is willing….If God is willing…

We will meet again someday

Friends until the end! VIVA BARCELONA!

The song Freddie Mercury was supposed to sing with Monserrat Caballé at the opening of the 1992 Olympic Games kept playing in my head. The year my cherished daughter was born. As we toured the city, including the Olympic installations, I could not help but be transported to that time when I became aware of Barcelona.

Since we were boarding the Symphony of the Seas that would be taking us on a transatlantic cruise back to North America, we had decided to arrive a few days earlier, to take in the sights of Barcelona. I had reserved a guide for a private tour of the city. We always find that they provide more information then the scripted city bus tours, and we enjoy having conversations with our guide, learning more about what people are thinking and concerned about. It’s a great way to make new friends.

By the time he dropped us off at our hotel, 4 hours later, we were exhausted. Looking like a zombie, I slowly dragged myself back into the lobby, eyes wide, mouth probably still agape from being stunned at seeing so much beauty, art, and architecture in one city. The tour had the opposite effect on Pierre who was bouncing and literally vibrating from all he had seen, his curiosity stimulated and bubbling with questions, anecdotes and stories. What a pair we were, as we made our way up to our room.

Both of us started reviewing all the pictures we had taken and trying to piece together the information we had received. Who was this Antoni Gaudi that had such vision 100 years ago, and an eye for such beauty able to design and build these amazing modern/gothic/nature looking buildings we had seen. The Sagrada Familia Basilica (Sacred Family), Park Guell, and the fabulous homes of the rich families of Catalonia – Casa Batillo, Casa Milo and so much more. I cannot describe the basilica to you in one sentence. It will need to be featured as a blog on its own.

We wanted to know more about Catalunya. We were aware of the huge nationalistic debate that has been going on lately, and manifestations from Catalonians seeking their sovereignty. Francisco had explained the historical context and reminded us of many details that were significant to understand the debate. Similar to the cause of Quebec sovereignty movement back home.

We did not see as much of the “old city” like we saw in Rome. Of course, part of the old city remains, St James church for example is spectacular. Barcelonians (or should I say Catalonians) tore down ruins and walls where it no longer served a purpose. You have some narrow streets, but they are arranged as much as possible in a grid-like manner, with wide boulevards designed in the early 1900s, which can easily accommodate traffic of the new millenium. The olympics brought a great boost of spending on infrastructure like trains and subways, and the ancient and medieval ruins are even included among modern installations as a form of Art.

Barcelona’s beauty reflects her heritage. The Mediterranean breeze (and occupation, and rulers) have brought influences from the Greeks, the Romans and Northern Africa. There are hints of France, like the boulevards, and of course Spain. The city has long established itself as a hub for modernism, innovation in design, and art, and architecture and its evident throughout. Since the time of Gaudi it has attracted artists and creative genius, and displays the works of Picasso, Dali and Miro! There is lots of Miro pride throughout the city.

It seemed that Catalonians were committed to demonstrating how they are different from the rest of their countrymen – not just with their art, but with their vision of the future. Our guide informs us proudly that Barcelona is the first city in Spain to no longer allow bullfighting. The huge bull ring seen in the picture above has been converted into a shopping mall.

The visit was too brief, but we tried the wines – a Tempranillo, a cab sauvignon/merlot/cab franc blend, and a full bodied Malvasia white from the Canary Islands. We had the tapas, and the seafood, and the huevos fritos. We are told a 5-hour train ride north will take us to Paris… and the wine valleys are to the north – where red wines are made and to the south, where white wines and roses are best.

It will be a while before we are able to digest all we experienced in our 36 hours in Barcelona. We did get some good advice from our guide on where there might be some good places to settle in for a couple of months to visit….because, there will be a next time.

Barcelona – we are friends until the end~ Viva Barcelona!

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