Well, the itchings of wanderlust mentioned above were momentarily sated recently after a far too brief trip to Barcelona and a nearby town, Sitges. Certain places in the world have an inherent sense of arrival from the moment you breath in what they have to offer. Obviously, these places differ for everyone, but for me Barcelona is one of those places. All its many varied characteristics and element seemed to appeal me in some way and I spent those few days enthralled by some both its grandiose and simple pleasures.
The first night was spent with a friend in the beautiful coastal town of Sitges along with some locals and ex-pats. Any apprehension about speaking Spanish with Catalunyans was dispelled with the conversation flowing until late into the night, as it always seems to do in Spain. The next day took us in by train, at times hugging the cliff face, into Barcelona itself.
Las Ramblas provided us with our main reference point, as it does for most tourists, on the trip but we never stayed for long on the strip itself. Staying in Plaza Real in the heart of the Barri Gotic we undertook the best possible way to see any city. Walking. Actually, make that walking and drinking and eating.Walking without any particular destination to get lost looking for and not find. We actually took joy in our rambling and we seemed to constantly 'discover' gems of sights that constantly bid to outdo each other.
By the end of the second day we had an almost local knowledge of Barri Gotic and found several great places to drink and eat, from the Tapas bar that had opend out on to a busy street that served little glasses of roja for €1.30 to a Paraguayan restaurant that served incredibly flavoured and tender meat dishes in huge portions, and several funky bars to boot. In most cities, this would take weeks.
I don't think I have ever been so genuinely impressed by architecture as I was in this city.
We have all been to places and gone to see places just for the sake of it and been duly appreciative but after a while it gets a bit tiresome. Gaudi's indelible impression on the city is very symbolic of a city so proud of its independent and cosmopolitan that looks within rather than outside for its inspiration.
Ever before I stepped on the plane home I vowed I would be back.