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From Barcelona, With love

What do you do when at the throes of summer RyanAir decides to give an interesting offer to one of the most beautiful cities of the world ? You simply pack your bag and go. Even better when accompanied by like-minded travellers. So thats how me and two of my friends found ourselves last weekend at the Reus airport, dazed and confused by the splendid Spanish sun. Only to find out that on weekends, the shuttle bus to Barcelona is as regular as rain in the Sahara. 

But once I m in holiday-mode, waiting seems to be the least of my problems. As time went by, more and more tourists around the world flocked in. Some played music, some danced, a bunch of school kids started skateboarding, and the rest of us started sharing our travel stories. This is what I like about traveling, you are never alone. In your journey you will always end up meeting similar travellers who also got lost in a country where they don't understand a single word. Life becomes a series of interesting guesses, and strangers become friends. 

So finally we reached Barcelona around midnight, and walked down the tree lined Las Ramblas to reach our hostel. The street was vibrant with street performers, aviaries, flowers, street food, and  throngs of tourists enjoying the hot summer night. It was loud and it was full of frenetic energy, reminded me of home somehow. My first impression of Barcelona is its fullness. Its full of history, tourists, art, and passion. Everything is intensified and vibrant like the colours of their beloved Senyera (the flag of Catalunya). 




From the moment I woke up next morning, I was engulfed in the myriad of sound, color, smell and light. The sun there was quite welcoming after getting acquainted with the German summer. However, the two day trip to Barcelona is simply not enough to bask in its Mediterranean light and glory. Even though we walked around dazed, amid the city’s Gaudí splendours, we didn't have enough time to see a Guadi house from inside (something I save for my second trip there). 


Nevertheless, we made it to Parc Güell which I feel is Antoni Gaudi's poetry in stone and mosaic. It was very peaceful strolling there, where various musicians and artists were displaying their talents on the sidewalks. 





If you are short on time like us to visit all the artistic highlights of the city, you should atleast visit this park. This, along with the majestic cathedral Sagarada Familia are integral parts of the Catalonian art nouveau. The cathedral is still under construction, but due to the recent crisis things have been painfully slow in that area. 

However, what I like the most about the architecture of this city is the mix of old and new. It felt like the new buildings had evolved and got integrated with the Parisan-like historic architecture. There is a now-ness to everything that's invigorating.

But the one thing that kept me on toes was the food. Hot summer afternoon lunches are all about starting with a bowl of Gazpacho. The freshness of tomato served with bits of cucumber and ham along with the Catalan pan con tomate was like finding home after a long tiring journey. Its crusty bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic, smeared with the flesh side of a halved tomato, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with flaky salt. If this isn't food porn, dear readers, then what is?


What came next was the huge platter of mussels with fisherman's sauce. It was such a simple dish but so succulent that I was literally jumping on my seat with joy. I don't know what attaining Nirvana is like, but watching the waves clash against the shore while savouring the seafood with a glass of Cava, was close enough.

However, I was a bit disappointed with the Paella Parellada at El Crangrejo Loco (This place was highly recommended by a local for its Paella). The texture was all wrong - it was very oily instead of the expected buttery texture. And as weird as it may sound, I had better Paella in Scotland. Hence it gives me all the more reason to visit Valencia, which gave world the King of all Paellas.


However, the showstopper for that meal was the 'creme catalan'. The rich custard base dessert with a very hard caramel layer was quite a revelation for my mouth.

But my quest with food does not end there. If you are a foodie like me, then you will definitely love Barcelona's fiesta offerings on the streets - churros, bocadillos, horchata, varieties of cheese, smoked gammon, ham, sausage... you name it.  La Boqueria market is the best place to indulge yourself in some awesome street foods.


Out of all, if I have to pick a favorite (I know its unjust, but..) it would be the churros - both plain and chocolate dipped. And they did get me sugar high not only that day, but even now, just by thinking about these warm long skinny treats.


The final destination of my Barcelona food tour ended with huge dollops of artisan homemade ice cream while we walked down to the beautiful cathedral of Santa Maria Del Mar. Not only they come in  weird flavours (Gin and Tonic, curry, foie gras, etc.), but also the biggest single scoop you would have ever come across!



So after gorging on food, siesta all day on the beach while working on the tan and chatting up with the locals was the ultimate cheery to top my Catalonian cake. And when it comes to the people, Barcelona is a city of babes. You just can't miss it - the city is full of ridiculously hot men and women. Stroll down Barceloneta and you will feel like walking accidentally into the set of Baywatch. Mocha-skinned, long haired girls in bikinis and sundresses, and men with torsos of bronzed Adonises.. god, its sickening! It feels like the cult of the body beautiful is alive and recruiting in Barcelona. 

But walk down Las ramblas in the evening, and you will find Machista men making cat calls, sexual gestures and eve teasing.  It was quite a shock for my Polish friends after living among ever polite German men for almost a year now. Have you ever seen a German guy hit on a woman? It’s adorable.

If that wasn't brazen enough, one guy walked up to me and asked if I was from India.  When I nodded yes, he held my hand and broke into a serenata. Guess what he sang??
" Tujhe dekha toh yeh jana sanam, pyar hota hain deewana sanam.." 
Ok, at that point, my eyes literally popped out. I was floored. This Catalonian was singing in broken Hindi a Bollywood song which incidentally happens to be one of my favorites (Those who know me well has guessed the connection by now. ;) ) 


Fun moments apart it was evident even to an outsider's eye how proud the Catalans are about their rich culture and heritage. You can actually feel the Catalan nationalism as you walk through the streets of Barcelona with flags flowing down apartments, shops, vehicles etc. Hell hath no fury calling a Barcelona a Spanish city! Its Catalunya, fullstop. Thankfully I was prepared for this long back by my Catalonian friend.  Now I totally understand how much pride these people take in their national flag.  And since I love collecting flags of countries I have been to, this time I can proudly say that I came back with a bright Catalan flag!



Catalunya triomfant,
tornarà a ser rica i plena.
Endarrera aquesta gent
tan ufana i tan superba!


The truth is, city of Barcelona is not about Vicky and Christina. Its neither its about Gaudi, nor FC Barcelona. What it is, are the proud big-hearted people of Barcelona - living, breathing, and passionately safeguarding their city and its heritage every single day - the true Els Segadors (The Reapers)! And this is something you will never forget, only to bring you back again and again to  wonderful Barcelona. 

Comments

  1. Oh my goodness I WOULD LOVE to visit Barcelona someday - even more so after reading this and seeing those pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha, its an amazing country!! You shouldn't miss on this one. :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Zindagi na milegi dobara. Exhilarating, to say the least. And that was only by reading this post. I can only imagine how you must've felt actually living it.

    Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was there for just two days - it was too less, but I am going back to experience Spain soon!!

    ReplyDelete

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