My romance with Barcelona
I don’t actually remember my first time in Barcelona, we were staying somewhere along Costa Brava and it was one of the organized day trips. My second time in Barcelona boils down to being stuck in traffic and missing dinner because one of the guys from our group wanted to get a parrot in La Rambla. He didn’t get it in the end and being stuck in a hot car for hours didn’t leave the best impression.
One time I saw the start of one of the stages of Dakar rally. One time we had an amazing chai tea in a tiny place in Barri Gòtic. Another time we had a cocktail in a bar with interior design imitating an enchanted forest. Next time we were on a treasure hunt for Gaudi’s building. One time I was squatting at my other friend’s place – she was renting a room from Latin American immigrants and that’s how I discovered how important it was to know where your nearest Locutorio was – now I’m guessing a thing of the past, an internet café in a world where everyone has a smart phone. And yet another time I met an incredible woman, who was a friend and a translator for Catalan and Spanish of the great Ryszard Kapuściński.
It wasn’t until I met Laura who comes from a city nearby and was studying in Barcelona that I really started discovering the Catalan capital bit by bit in its beauty. I have visited her many times over the years and I always put aside some time to get to know the city a bit better.
Barcelona is a city with many faces. Many connect it with the football team, some with the incredible architecture by Antoni Gaudí – Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Park Güell to name just a few, and let’s not forget artists like Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Picasso, who made a huge impact on the Catalan culture. But like many other metropoles Barcelona has an underbelly – which, as a tourist, even a regular one, you might never see. There are at least two fantastic movies that brilliantly show the love for the “ugly” side. “Biutiful” by Alejandro González Iñárritu and “Todo sobre mi madre” (“All about my mother”) by Pedro Almodóvar.
And you cannot be in the area for a longer period of time without seeing Monsterrat. Great challenge for hikers, but you can also have a nice wander once you drive to the top of the mountain and after you have visited the monastery. The view is fantastic, with good weather you can even see the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees.
What I’m trying to say is that, it happens very rarely that you can have an opportunity to visit a place time and time again, with a lovely local guide on top of that.