It was impossible for me to sleep on our flight from Los Angeles to Barcelona, despite the fact that the travel gods were with us. We scored an empty seat between us, in each three-seat section. This meant that both Gabriel and Stella were able to lay prone with their feet or head in Dan’s or my lap, and snooze. The flight was almost eleven hours, during which I tried to forget a dream that I had last summer. In that long ago slumber, my deceased grandmother visited me and prophesied that my life would end on my next flight; but, as made apparent by these words, I survived. Perhaps, the true interpretation of that dream is as my sister believed, that the only thing that would die would be my old life.
Here begins more than a new chapter – I’ve entered a new book – yet, our landing in Barcelona felt like nothing other than dejavu. All four of us were struck by the similarities to our August 2015 trip to Rome, our entry place to an epic year of travel. Dan and I tried to recall our own individual visits to Barcelona over twenty years ago…reminiscing on young lives long-aged. Even though we knew that this time would be different, odd coincidences proved that some things don’t change.
Our first day found us reunited with a dear Canadian friend, Carolynn, and her sister, Joey, the very same people we saw on our first day in Rome. Both of our trips to Europe were planned without knowledge of the other’s, yet our timing spoke of a similar clock. Back in ’96, I ran into an ex-boyfriend, an old coworker, and saw myself on television, dubbed in Spanish (my only claim to fame was a guest role, playing a nun on Dick Van Dyke’s t.v. show, Diagnosis Murder). None of those events were expected and they made my stay in Barcelona seem magical. It is strange how the city still conjurs random reunions. Besides our Canuck friends, we also unknowingly planned our visit the same time as a fellow Airtreks family (David, Nai, Chance, and Roxie), and had more friends to experience being “strangers in a new city” with!
My attraction to Barcelona is still lusty. The streets flirt with me, and I wink back. Each narrow lane calls me hither, vast plazas encourage a sway in my hip, and outdoor tables and chairs beg me to make myself comfortable, sip a cool sangria and allow the warm air to embrace my tingling, bare skin. I’m flushed pink, eyes twinkling, ears buzzing, completely seduced again. Rome is a classy older woman in heels, while Barcelona is her braless twenty-something daughter, pert, hot, and on the prowl. I feel like a voyeur, watching the brazen and beautiful youth.
I think that Stella and Gabriel can see the beauty of our surrounds, but they make irritating comparisons to India. Hot trash and eau de sewer challenge their appreciation, and I am on defense, “This city is over a thousand years old! Hold your breath, lift your eyes. Can you not see how incredible this place is?” Dan and I are second guessing our choice to live in Granada, spellbound by Barcelona’s allure, but remind ourselves of the increased living expenses and additional language to master. We love the soul of a big city and the surprise around each corner. Amazing architecture survives time, as generations of men flourish and decline around what should also be impermanent. Buildings remain static while masses of Catalonians and tourists whoosh by. The entire city feels like a museum without being the least stuffy. Gaudi’s whimsical facades remind us to be playful. His curving balconies, colorful mosaics, sand-castle spires, and sunbathing lizards teach us that fairytales are real.
Park Guell and Gaudi House:
Random Gaudi architecture:
Barri Gotic Cathedral:
A Day exploring Montjuic:
Feed me. We take nibbles and bites throughout the day, eating surprisingly well for surprisingly little. I love the simplicity of a baguette with thinly sliced jamon, a refreshing cold soup of melons, and a raw, white fish tartar with avocado and olive oil. The markets are vibrant with ruby tomatoes, mariscos, wheels of cheese, shiny olives, and hanging pork haunches… all are culinary jewels.
After visiting Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, and the Joan Miro and Picasso museum, all reality becomes abstract. The artists of Catalonia make sense of the avant garde. I imagine Pablo in his striped, boatneck shirt, passing me a beveled blue glass of acid-laced punch. I take a sip and Barcelona begins to shimmer.
Once again, you have wrapped me in your spell with words and detail so filled with color and life – it’s as if I were traveling alongside. Ahhh, to be a guest in your journey. Keep the updates coming!
Gary and I send BIG hugs and kisses!
Your writing is maturing like a fine wine, Sarah. I will enjoy Spain through your senses. Thank you for the vicarious experience!
I am glad I was right and not the latter. Your new life is beckoning you in another language and beguiling you with its artistry and culinary delights. I am excited for you, Dan, Stella and Gabriel. We only really get one life, but something tells me that you are more like a cat living her nine lives with ferocious curiosity. I am looking forward to visiting you all in your new habitat.
It really is beautiful there. Spain is once again on the upswing. I think you will like Grenada. It is quite tranquil. Sevilla is more the Andaluzian city I associate with you.
Mom and I are so glad to see you follow your dreams and to return to Dan’s birthplace.
Our memories of Spain come alive in your blog. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride.
Bienvenido a tu nuevo hogar!
So very happy you have started your blog again. Your description of Barcelona and photos have sparked my desire to stay for more days that we have planned. Dad and I are so happy for your decision to move to Spain and I know Stella and Gabriel will come around once you get settled and they meet new friends, they too will be happy. Looking forward to your next entry, so till then love to all and safe travels.
Wow, so much beauty, so many little details everywhere.
Love how you describe Barcelona and fun to be here following your footsteps with kids as my first and last visit here was also in ’96! So much has changed but as you’ve noted the flirtation still very much continues! Such a great city and still so much more to see on a future visit. Wishing you well on your Year here in Spain!
With each entry you describe to perfection the awe that only an open-eyed traveler experiences. We, your readers are so blessed to have you out there cataloguing the treasures each destination holds for the observant ones. Thank you for giving us this priceless gift.