To say that we saved the best for last would be a gross understatement.
Barcelona is enchanting. It is enchanting in a way that you want to say the word loud, almost as if in an operatic voice singing, ENCHANTIIIIIIIIIING!
The moment I arrived, I knew this was the Spain I had dreamed of visiting.
I am not taking any merit away from any other place seen on this memorable journey, but Barcelona felt more welcoming and enticing than any other.
I don’t know if it was the people, or the ambiance of the Gothic district where we stayed, or even the colors and sighs (yes, sighs, the structures they speak) of the historic buildings that lined the streets we walked, but this stretch of land in Catalunya ended our trip on a very big high.
Suffice it to say that finding a Cuban restaurant in the middle of a gastronomic capital of Spanish cuisine (thanks to my cousin Manolo), satiated our hunger for home after a near three-week absence. Tapas, Caña, Pinxos and Vino notwithstanding, black beans and rice have a way of bringing home to our hearts by way of our stomachs very quickly.
Sitting amid family, sharing the food of our ancestors, was but one of the highlights of a trip that included seeing sights such as Montjuic, the Olympic Stadium, the Barceloneta, and La Sagrada Familia.
Gaudi’s architectural art lines the streets of this city with such an emblematic touch that at times it appears that we are in a Oz-like, whimsical wonderland where certainly gnomes, fairies and maybe wizards will soon appear.
The place is short of magical and prompted us to feel a certain nostalgia for a vacation that had enjoyed many positive notes. Here we were in the best of places during the last days of an eighteen day journey that would not soon be forgotten.
Yvonne’s camera, with nearly 1,700 pictures already taken and stored on a card, couldn’t contain the eye of its lens for the balconies lined with flags (supporting independence from Spain), flowers and messages to the city folk. The Catalan people are not a quiet lot and politics sits first and foremost in many of their conversations, even the ones had from balcony to terraces.
While I don’t quite understand the politics, I applaud the passion. And it is this passion that inhabits the air of this city. It is this passion that draws the welcome sign that makes one feel at home and it is this passion that bids all who walk these streets, to return.
I must sound like a broken record when I write about the things I loved as I traveled through France and Spain: I won’t ever forget Paris, I loved the green of the proud Basque Country, I loved the hustle and bustle of a thriving Madrid, I was moved by Andalusia’s sad song of longing and today I write about how I look at Barcelona as a place I could somehow call home.
Today, I am actually home and as the post vacation blue sets in, I look back on these past days of exploration and I know I have been changed by what I’ve seen of late. I can no longer long for what I haven’t seen, I will simply long for what I see no more and for what I long to see again… someday.
Paris, Bilbao, Guernica, San Sebastian, Logroño, La Rioja, Trucios, Santander, Seville, Granada, Madrid, Avila and Segovia – you have all captured my heart. But you Barcelona, you own my heart. In my tale where it took more than three clicks of my heels to get me home, you will forever be my scarecrow and I know I will miss you most of all.