If only my parents had known that one day I would come in third place in a sailboat race in Barcelona, I am sure my childhood would have looked vastly different. I imagine it would have involved crowns, servants, and a shower of jewel-lavish toys to play with rather than homemade balls of yarn, chores-a-plenty, and many nights with just porridge and gruel to eat for supper. “Please, mummy, may I ‘ave some more?” No one could have known this would be my destiny so at least I grew up a humble girl. I can’t yank your chain too much because I hardly had a hand in pulling the ropes that won the race. But, on March 18th, I was indeed aboard the 3rd place sailboat on it’s oceanic triumph.
As far as cities go, and when comparing it to most other places on earth, Barcelona is BEAUTY-FULL! The sights, the sounds, the cultural array splayed out in front of me. I was happy that my Spanish in high school was slowly being refreshed to my memory, but unlike French-speakers, the Spanish and Cataloyna (a variation of Spanish with slang, lisps, and excessive speaking speeds which is local to the region) were happy to practice their English on tourists like myself. I arrived at night to the comfortable home of two artists, UB and Will, and their daughter, Stassa. They had previously been visitors in our Chalet and welcomed me with open arms and a “make yourself at home” attitude. Their “apartment” is across from Picasso’s mother’s old apartment, and one can step outside for a walk in a neighborhood with Gothic churches, or head to the newer constructs on Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is also a good place to get rambled on by tourists.
The goof troop kindly escorted my ten suitcases and I up to the guest bedroom on the terrace, literally a stone grotto-style room on the roof of their apartment where I could open my door and hear the sounds of motorbikes, Spaniards enjoying the night life, and all sorts of unrecognizable happenings. Despite any noises, my sleeping was deep, comfortable, and unbridled. I woke up in the morning to birds chirping about how much they loved life, and the bells of the cathedral next door alerting me to the fact that it was 8 o’clock in the morning and I was just being plain, old lazy. I toured their house with plenty of wonder and amazement. It is like a livable, comfortable art museum, full of baubles and bobs that are more interesting than clipping my toenails on a Saturday afternoon. If you can believe that.
I wish I had more time in this city, my first day was consumed with our sailboat victory, being on the water, and then having a two hour lunch in the boat club restaurant. My second day, I took off alone, walking for hours and hours, getting only slightly turned around, and using a bit of graffitti to guide me back to U.B.’s studio. I ate a giant fish and experienced the Barcelona art, Waldorf schools, and let my eyes feast upon amazing architecture.
Perhaps I am not expressing how much I love this place. There are palm trees. There is a beach! It is a city full of rich art, both old and new. The merging of ancient culture with a youthful expression. There is a bicycle program in which residents can rent a bike from nearly anywhere in the city for a very low price tag. People are thin and trim, for the most part, and do plenty of walking and riding their bikes. Even the pigeons are in better shape than pigeons I have seen!
The cockroach outside my bedroom was slightly off-putting; but it was playing dead so I let it hang out. I prefer my cockroaches drizzled with caramel sauce, and this one looked a little thin to make a decent meal.
Last night, the German teacher’s assistant/student from Stassa’s school (who arrived in town just in time for some polenta and veggies) and I went to pop our heads into a Spanish bar “La Princessa”. People were indeed eating their dinner at 10:30 and 11:00 at night and just beginning to set off for a night full of escapades. We didn’t participate in the debauchery, but we each had a good lesson in language-changing and culture-charing as he spoke, Spanish, German, and English. I could ALMOST keep up. The German threw me for a Lederhosen Shnitzel though.
There was so much more to see and do in Barcelona, I feel like I just barely had a chance to arrive before it was time to go; I totally forgot to show off my Flamenco moves and was just starting to remember how to roll my “r”‘s in Spanish when it was time to wake up and head to the airport for the last, and final leg of my fabulous journey. A 5-hour wait in the Swiss airport gives me enough time to realize I never want to live in Switzerland (it costs six arms, two Swiss francs, and three legs PER DAY), do some people watching, and self-reflect about how I don’t have the internet and can’t figure out how to use a calling card and how this lack of resources will affect my future.
Unlike most experiences in life, I didn’t gleam any deep, self-reinventing life lessons from being in Barcelona, I was however able to personify the word “relax”. I also heard a really great Bob Dylan song in the Gaudi gift shop, and further fueled my undying passion for living in a warm climate.
Thank you to U.B., Will, Stassa (and Lily and Frieda) for making my stay second to NONE!
— Emily —