Back for another installment (here’s part 1 for the backstory). After a day in Madrid with friends, it was time for the next stop of the whirlwind tour.
I headed to Barcelona to meet up with two of my dearest friends: one who works for a tech company in Barça, and the other who flew in from Berlin. I was excited but also sort of nervous about the meeting of these two people, people who I love but who are also pretty different from one another, in some ways reflecting poles of my own personality. But we all three share a love of wandering, H&M, food, and making fun of me, so I think it was a good couple of days. As I’ve mentioned before, my time in Barcelona was a mix of highs and lows — seeing friends, wandering, shopping, touring Casa Gaudí, going out and remembering the awesome intensity of the Spanish nightlife scene, but also feeling a lot of my uncertainties at that time bubble to the surface. Not knowing where I was headed next, feeling at times out of place in situations that used to be my jam, wanting something more but not knowing how to get there…recognizing that I was in-between, and being scared and overwhelmed by that feeling. It’s calming to look back and realize the importance of some of those discoveries, a few of them made in late night Barcelona bars, to see that many of those uncertainties have momentarily subsided. It’s also something I come back to often, feeling on the edge of something and figuring out how to leap. It’s a cliché but it’s the best metaphor I’ve been able to figure out for that particular feeling.
Very importantly: jamón and I were reunited.
On my first day, I spent the day alone and decided to wander Montjuïc, site of the 1992 Olympics, one of Franco’s most infamous prisons (if you haven’t read The Shadow of the Wind, I would recommend it), and a series of parks linked by escalators. The day was humid and the greenery was surprisingly lush.
Olympic Stadium (isn’t it amazing how much Beijing reshaped our ideas about what an Olympic stadium should look like?)
At the Jardí Botànic de Barcelona:
Spaniards love escalators, even in their outdoor gardens. But I was also glad to see some of the original staircases survived:
Important pan catalan lesson:
At the Pre-Columbian Art Museum:
My friend and I decided to pony up the eighteen euros to tour Casa Battló, possibly the most famous Gaudí-designed house. Although I totally can’t imagine living there, I did really love all of the strange and wonderful attention to detail.
The whole house was so undulating, even the woodwork:
The tiles in the central patio (stairwell) are a gradient, really dark blue towards the top floor, lighter as you get closer to the ground floor – five colors in all. It really does give the impression that the ground floor gets more light than it really does.
The tiles also cast cool, aquatic reflections:
The top floor is its own alien land.
And the rooftop looks like a lizard and a bunch of uniformed soldiers.
Later that night, we went all went out to this fun Mexican place called La Rosa Negra (which, coincidentally, will always remind me of Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights). The food was good, but mostly it was a good night because it reminded me what it was like to be in a place crawling with young (but not 18 year old) people. It was another night when I got to thinking about what direction my life was heading…margaritas have that effect on me. (also, Happy National Margarita Day today! February 22, of all of the days of the year!)
My friend lives not far from La Sagrada Familia. After Casa Battló, we decided we had had our fill of waiting in line and paying high entrance prices for Gaudí, and since I have been before, we just wandered the perimeter for a bit. Still pretty awe-inspiring.
La Boquería really is one of the world’s great markets:
And finally, it was time for a little break from Spanish saltiness. Perfect antidote? Noodles and Fun.
(is this fun for anyone but me? No, not noodles and fun, these travel/photography write-ups. I’m honestly not sure…let me know in the comments, will you?)