Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spain 2: Barcelona

It’s true that Barcelona never sleeps. It positively throbs. We stayed in a beautifully central apartment within walking distance of many of the Gaudi buildings and a couple of fabulous little squares, including one with a towering clock in the middle with a tolling bell and the most amazing ice cream shop on its corner. It had Nutella ice cream that tasted as if it had dropped directly from heaven into the old, glass-fronted, wooden-panelled shop with a beautiful, smiley boy behind the counter. Then the Poppy ice cream, like lying in a field of poppies with a Spring sun shining on your face. Sublime.

I’m the first to admit I’m a small town girl so I was initially a little intimidated by the city’s hum, but then we walked through its ancient narrow streets, exploring the back alleys that looked like scenes out of a gothic movie, washing hanging above, little balconies with potplants on them, ancient walls and new graffiti, and I got into the rhythm.

We spent a lot of time just wandering about the back streets, behind the tourist-tat-filled ones and sitting at street cafes, drinking ice cold beer, eating tapas, watching people. One day we wound our way through a narrow alley toward Barcelona Cathedral, confused by the ever-loudening rock music. Popping into the sunshine of the cathedral square, we were met by a stage made of a double-decker bus on which a Spanish rock band were rocking to a large audience of Spanish youths. To the left, some fabulous wall art, to the right, the cathedral herself – beautiful, ancient, intricate.

We stayed and rocked for a bit and then went into the cathedral, her thick stone walls blocking out the noise, her air thick with hundreds of year’s of people’s prayers. I’m not particularly religious but here, in this cavernous building with its many beautifully decorated, gold-bedecked little chapels, I was stunned into silence. I felt like the very air I was breathing contained so many hopes and dreams, mine included. Mainly the shattered ones, although, I’m sure the fulfilled ones were there. I was overcome by sadness and I cried, big, fat tears, the kind that drip off your face and land in your lap, for all the lost souls.

I lit candles in the courtyard outside with the pretty geese and I watched their flames flicker, little lights, symbols of warmth and love and hope and I breathed again, the warm air of Barcelona. Afterwards, anyone watching would've seen three girls disappearing down the side street to find the hidden coffee shop in which to drink carajillos, write postcards and watch life pass us by.


Tony Letts said...

Wonderful place - was there this time last year. :)

Shiny said...

Ah Tony, it's a place I'd like to spend an extended time in, to really see all its nooks and crannies x

Angela said...

My mother and I once got lost in Barcelona. We had both forgotten the name of our hotel, Hotel Eulalia (does it still exist, near the harbour?). So we ambled up and down Las Ramblas, not knowing what to do, when suddenly someone shouted, Hey there, you are part of our travel group, right? I always kept this wonderful "thank-you-feeling" for Barcelona!