I got home early this morning, and had a cuddle with my partner. He joined me for a few days after his conference in Copenhagen, but he headed home a couple of days before me. The dog was also very pleased to see me, and is cuddling up to me on the couch as I type.
I really did have a good time, a healing time. At the start, on my own in a big city and jetlagged, I had a bit of an existential "what is this all worth" type thing. I still felt very raw from what had gone on barely a few days before. A few tears dribbled down my cheeks as I walked the Rambla de Catalunya for the first time (well since I visited in early 2010). I had sunglasses on.
I then had a "na, fuck that" moment. While acknowledging the grief I felt, I made a decision to make the best of the situation, to cherish that time alone in a magnificent city. I had worked hard for it.
The here and now is all we really have.
I walked and walked, and walked some more. Everywhere, for hours. My fitbit tells me I averaged 18,000 steps per day. I felt and enjoyed the warm breeze and the sun on my shoulders. I ate my body weight in Tapas and Jamon, and sampled all the Sangria.
The first, and the best.
I delivered my paper at the conference, and it was well received. The conference itself was a bit meh. Australians do conferences well, I think.
Here are some of the things I did. Those of you thinking of visiting Barcelona may use this as advisory.
Spain is known for it's retailers Zara and Mango. However the clothes are often poorly constructed, poorly cut and the prices are fairly global. Shoes are a better bet; I bought two pairs. Positively restrained. I bought a pair of Camper sandals. Camper shoes can err on the side of a bit ugly but are generally superior in comfort. I also bought a pair of earrings made by an independent jeweller
Gold plated with smokey quartz. Excuse my lady-beard...
Europe and Asia are slightly more competitive for cosmetics prices - I shouted myself a Lancome mascara and their magic cushion, both beautiful.
The Barri Gotic, the old town or Gothic Quarter, is a dense scattering of streets just south of Plaza Catalunya. There are a few main streets as anchors, but it is easy to get lost in those charming little streets, and I did. I went to the Picasso museum, and, seeing the queues, booked ahead online. The other
|Ooooh look, a Gothic Cathedral.|
The Barri Gotic as it is now was build atop an old Roman Empire City, parts of which could be seen in the Barcelona History Museum; the excavation sits below the building, and you take the elevator down and wander about on a boardwalk thingy, which is rather cool.
|The wine vats.|
There were lots of little dogs to pat. I met this fella, a friend to one of the shopkeepers in a small square near the History Museum
|I didn't catch his name. Possibly Ernesto? Ernie for short.|
So long as there was a baseline level of concentration (the cars being on the other side and all), all of the streets were ripe for a wander. The people watching, as my friend Faux Fuchsia would say, is 11/10.
I ate a fair bit of this, hence I went to learn a little about it, to "Jamon Experience". There was a slightly twee exhibition of how the best Jamon, the Jamon Bellota, is made (free range pigs of a certain breed who are allowed to roam freely and feast on acorns, aged for 36 months). After the twee exhibition, a tasting was offered.
Remember: Jamon Bellota.
Antoni Gaudi was the famous 19th century Architect, who drew inspiration from nature and religion, and eschewed straight lines. People associate him with the Sagrada Familia, which is still being constructed. I found it a bit ugly from the outside, so, having been in there before, I didn't go in this time.
I saw Casa Mila (Pedrera), from the outside.
We went into Park Guell
And the highlight was going in Casa Batllo:
If you go to Barcelona, you should definitely go in, best Audioguide ever and well worth the 22 Euro cost.
The other really cool thing I did when my partner was there was catch the Funicular from the Waterfront out to Montjuic. The Bar at the top of Montjuic makes the best Patatas Bravas in Barcelona.
Here are some other random pics:
|Whiling away the evening with a Sangria, Placa Reial.|
|the wine in the supermarket was super cheap.|
|The hospital at which the conference was held. I know! It's a hospital!|
Have any of you been to Barcelona?
What was your favourite thing?