This city is sorceress, you know, Daniel? It gets under your skin and steals your soul without you knowing it.Carlos Ruiz Zafón, “The Shadow of the Wind”
This post is going to be an introduction to my travel diaries — the (not)guides to places which have touched my thoughts and heart sorely hard. I love to feel places and get a connection with them, what can you read about here. The travel diaries will be kind of follow up of this article but from specific places and related to them. Today I’m inviting you to my Barcelona.
Have you ever read “The Shadow of the Wind”? I was reading it when we decided we were going to go to Barcelona. To be frank — this book was a large motivation for our (mine?) decision. I just trusted Carlos Ruiz Zafón and gave up to his almost mystical description of the city. I was ready for the risk of losing my soul.
When I just left the airport I wanted to keep inside of me as much as possible from this place. The crisp air, bringing the scent of the sea, was the very first surprise that we got from Barcelona. The delicate, saltwater smell was bursting into our lungs stronger and stronger with every breath, reminding us how close to this great element we were.
It was very warm for this time of year or rather for the weather we left in Ireland.
We grabbed one of the black taxis just next to the entrance. Our hotel was placed within about 20 minutes from the airport and I wanted to do more and more with each kilometre approaching us to the city — I felt like dancing, laughing, hugging… but I only squeezed his hand trying to pass all my energy on to him and whispered three very important words.
I immediately felt a home. Barcelona greeted us like an old friend who lives their own way, understandable only for them but even so everyone adores them and clings to them completely thoughtlessly. The same was with me — when I was there I could turn off the thinking and give up to something irrational — in my mind but out of my awareness.
Our hotel consisted of purple lights and a lot of pink items inside. It was very modern, which took me away from the “The Shadow…” vibe for a while.
Our room was on the 9th floor, so we had an amazing view of giggling and shouting Barcelona. All these sounds we could hear from outside let us know that the city wasn’t going to fall asleep so fast. It was going to sing, dance a little bit and drink some more exotic cocktails. It was calling us to join and get carried away by the rhythm of its life. However, we stayed at the hotel observing everything through the huge window and trying to learn this crazy vibe.
I couldn’t fall asleep that night either. I was feeling too happy.
The First Day
The next morning woke me up with a beautiful sun. I sat on the big armchair next to the window to have a look at the streets and walking people who looked like little ants. In the daylight, we could see that our neighbourhood was made up of a small square surrounded by numerous restaurants. We picked up one of them for breakfast and my beloved café bombon. While we were sitting there I got a perfect opportunity to observe other customers. Most of them were locals — the older woman still talking to the staff, the man reading El Pais and two young men speaking about business as I guessed.
Straight after breakfast, we left the cafe, heading toward La Rambla. The way to this most popular street in Barcelona led through some other charmful and narrow streets which I totally fell in love with. The sun was either throwing the light or completely hidden behind the old walls of beautiful tenements.
La Rambla was full of diverse colours and sounds. It consisted of noisy car horns, lively talks in different languages and fast clicking of the heels of beautiful residents of Barcelona. We came over to another bakery for a second coffee. The floor in this place was made up of black and white quads and it looked like a chessboard. We didn’t observe others this time because our conversation absorbed us utterly. We were making plans and grinding old dreams. Barcelona affected us like that.
The streets of the Gothic Quarter took us to the seaside of Mediterranean Sea completely unexpectedly. I felt like a child who just got the biggest surprise ever. The harbour grew out of our eyes and the smell of saltwater became much stronger. A further aim of our walk was clear — the sea. We walked around the entire bay bounded by an incessant row of beautiful bars and coffee places. I thought that if I had to choose one activity in my old age, it would be just sitting in these places there, reading outstanding books and looking at the sea.
Although the sand wasn’t very warm, we decided to walk barefoot on it anyway. In the middle of December! Awesome feeling <3
We stayed on the beach till the sunrise and then, not wanting to say goodbye to the sea yet, we only stepped back a bit to the coastal bar for one cocktail before dinner. We were drinking it to the accompaniment of a burbling of water, colourful lights hanging above our heads and hums of talks around us… And I was still wondering how to keep it all in my mind with the full load of these emotions and happiness I was feeling then.
Or maybe I have only imagined this saltwater smell, lively atmosphere and something that made me feel like one part of me descended from Barcelona? If not, it means that my loss is not wasted. If so… it doesn’t matter anyway. Barcelona has got under my skin and stolen my soul. And I even don’t want to get it back anymore.