Note to self- you cannot embark on any form of public transport and expect it to take you to your desired destination.
We arrived at Barcelona airport around 10am, twenty five minutes earlier than anticipated, sincerely unheard of from our budget airline, Ryanair. Having never visited the city before, I gathered it would take an extensive period before I discovered my Catalonian orientation.
With giddy excitement and blessed naivety, I decided the most efficient way to reach our accommodation would be to follow the hordes of people with suitcases, tourists! We’re going to the same place as them, right? My subdued panic started to subside and gather acute formation when my location on google maps stretched further rather than closer than where we wanted to be. I felt like a human ping pong ball as we frantically boarded then un-boarded every R train on the central line. Panic over as we made it to the Arc de Triomf, walking distance from our part time abode, situated amongst the winding gothic streets of Carrer de la Princesa, aptly named for its latest visitors- Ruby and I.
Surrounded by the most unique medieval architecture, Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Our apartment sits on the third floor, overlooking Museo Picasso and I figured if it’s good enough for Pablo, then it should be suffice for us too.
Still gathering map momentum our fifteen minute jaunt to the beach turned into an hours haul, stumbling over Parc de la Ciutadella, with acres of greenery, an adorable lake and a mighty Josep Fontserè fountain, it was a worthy miscalculation. An hour lazing on the white sands of platja del Somorrostra recouped our exhaustion from a 6am flight and we quickly felt motivated to explore.
Winding our way past the marina towards La Rambla, stumbling over Mercat de la Boqueria (food market) and Gran Teatre where we stopped for an authentic tapas lunch. Working or way towards Barcelona Museum of Modern Art (macba), where tucked behind the iconic building is an icon in itself.
Todos juntos podemos parar el SIDA (Together We Can Stop AIDS), by Keith Haring, which was moved from its original position in a seedy area known as the Barrio Chino in 1992 for preservation and placed amongst his contemporaries at macba two years after the artists AIDS related death. It would have felt unsatisfying for Ruby and I to visit Barcelona and not make the effort to wonder at Haring’s mural, last year we visited Harlem, NY and sought out the ‘Crack is Wack’ playground, a pilgrimage to each of Haring sites is a crusade on its own.
As if the adventures already undertaken in Catalonia’s capital city were not enough we were on the hunt for Gaudi, an exuberant stomp towards La Pedrera or Casa Milà and towards Sagrada Família to see Gaudi in all his wonder. Perplexed and visually in awe of the spectacularly refined building, an array of intricate detail and the audacity of its magnificent size and scale, I genuinely felt terrified of his genius. Too emotional to step foot inside, we made our way east back towards the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, where we spent our evening until sunset.
Finishing off our day within the maze of barri gotic, a supper of traditional empanada then off to bed.
Twenty four hours in this historic city and I have fallen in love.
Long live the VEF and Gaudi is Catalonia’s QUEEN