Monday, September 14, 2009

Barca.


Whoa. Has it really been this long since I posted my last entry? Time sure flies when you are traveling. I have so much to tell now. Where should I start? Does anyone even bother reading this anymore? If you do, settle yourself down as this could take a while.

I think I’ll begin where I left off. Barcelona – a city that somehow managed to captivate me into a nine-day-stay and no end of stories to tell.

We traveled a long 10 hours to ‘Barca’ from Nice by bus. I love coming to a new city in a new country. It’s like you’re starting completely from scratch. Almost always I know nothing about the city I’m entering and it’s this naiveness that excites me the most. Learning a new language, sampling new foods and anticipating the pleasure of immersing myself in a new culture. Naturally I couldn’t wait.

We were staying in a nice hostel, near the top of the infamous ‘La Ramblas’ street known for its pick pockets, prostitutes and performers (sounds like Athens all over again!) Around the corner was a Gaudi designed house and a bit further up the road was his masterpiece La Sagrada Familia. This was sounding good already.


Barcelona is one of those cities that reminded me of home. It is stylish, young and bursting with culture. Every corner you turn you find small bars and caf├ęs or people selling artisan goods or food in small stalls. The streets are clean, and the people are friendly.


I even adopted my first soccer team. FC Barcelona were playing an exhibition match at the famous Camp Nou during our week here. Somehow we became so immersed in the excitement for this game that we promptly bought tickets, a brand new ‘away’ jersey and a soccer ball. Go Barca.


I spent the next few days in the El Raval and university districts, which bordered two fantastic galleries. One gallery, the CCCB, was showing two uniquely different exhibitions. One was titled ‘ The Jazz Century’ and explored the rise of Jazz from the beginning of last century until now, using a chronological combination of vinyls, posters and art works including my very first Basquiat.






The other exhibition was particularly intriguing as it took a look at ‘Gangs of the 80s’ focusing exclusively on Spanish juvenile delinquency cinema which peaked between 1978 and 1985. The exhibition was a great insight into how Spain as a country has developed over the years, specifically through its youth.


They had even set up one room like an old arcade parlour.


Funnily enough, it seems that most of Barcelona is of a youthful age. I rarely ever saw anyone older than fifty. This is obviously a reflection of the vibrancy of this city – it has so much energy, it’s no wonder I enjoyed my time here so much.


I especially loved the food. There was one night in particular where I was absolutely ravenous. I went out in search of food to satisfy my hunger. I knew there had to be something, wait, anything. I was looking for the kind of restaurant that you find three corner-turns down a back street, the one you spend 25 minutes searching for and are more than always rewarded for your efforts. It was 10.17pm (a normal time for eating in Spain) and I was ravenous. I came so close to abandoning the search when out of nowhere appeared three large red neon letters – W-O-W-! they spelt. It had to be good.


It was a dark street and there were lanterns on the tables. They didn’t speak much English. They mistook my order of a vegetarian burger for a beef one. Yet the beef burger was superb, the beer was delicious and the atmosphere was perfect. I certainly wasn’t complaining.


Barcelona is definitely a city I will return to. It was so welcoming and friendly and so hard to leave. I take with me a new sports team and a plethora of new ideas and influences. I love this place.

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