A City All Its Own
We had three days to explore all that was the Mediterranean coastal city of Barcelona. Having three fun and food-filled days in Madrid prior to this sojourn prepared us for allotting a nice mix of activity and relaxation into three days. A train took us from Madrid to Barcelona and on our way we passed small farms, picturesque towns and snow—it was late March.
Stepping out from the train station into the streets of Barcelona we were graced with warm rays of afternoon sun and travelers like us, rolling luggage clack…clack….clack-ing across cement cracks as we traveled the short distance to our hotel. Our train station was located near some newer sections of the city so, compared to Madrid, where were immersed in history, we now passed new businesses and buildings as well as parks with ping-pong tables.
On our first day in the city, we decided to learn about Barcelona using one of our favorite methods: bicycle tour. They don’t usually disappoint and this one didn’t either. We arrived late but not so late that we couldn’t snag some bicycles and catch up to our group. We zig-zagged through the city like we owned the streets—in fact, our guide suggested we travel in the middle of the lane so it appears we own the streets, thus improving our chances of safer, more authoritative, bicycle travel. It worked well.
Let the Exploration Begin
A fact that was new and sticks with us today was that Barcelona doesn’t have natural beaches. The ones they have were built by bringing in sand and palm trees to create them for the 1992 Summer Olympics. They may have been artificial beaches but the waves and water that splashed against them were real and it was a fantastic sight to see. The Mediterranean waterfront was filled with people from all over the world, yet seemed to retain the mindset that seaside, food and people will equal beauty—which is true.
Another favorite site of exploration for us was the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia. The Basílica, a project envisioned by architect Antoni Gaudi, is a temple the remains under construction despite having its first cornerstone laid in 1882. When you see it, you’ll understand. Do some neck stretches too because it’s not unlike sitting in the front row of a large movie theater; pillars and ceilings seem to soar to the heavens. Its construction is expected to be completed in 2026.
A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete, for us, without a meal at Els 4 Gats (“The Four Cats”). Opened in 1897, it was famously a hangout, and site of an exhibition, for Pablo Picasso early in his career. A place like Els 4 Gats is the type of establishment where the walls do talk; they talk through the artistic movements of the patrons who frequented there.
After our meal, we roamed main streets and side streets. All of a sudden, a singing voice of romance and emotion reverberated from ancient stone walls. There was subtle guitar playing and a man playing music the likes I’ve never heard before, live or recorded. It was the most beautiful music. A musician was situated perfectly—possibly for acoustics, but this guy could sing in a room full of wet paper bags and it’d sound bass-level angelic—at an intersection of pathways, illuminated by soft street lights, and performing for who knows who. Anyone without earshot was blessed to have heard him.
Barcelona was a fantastic city filled with a dizzying array of high-quality architecture and food. We had three days to spend there and not a minute was wasted. To walk on the same paths as brilliant and lesser-known-but-still-phenomenal artists, was a treat. Anywhere you looked was chance for a new encounter and it’s definitely not a city to miss.
“Allow me to state here how much I love Barcelona , an admirable city, a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future.”~Le Corbusier
Making images in Barcelona was like finding a painting through the viewfinder, every time. You can feel the history in the air, and that influences the photography. My experiences in Spain with street photography have been nothing short of incredible and welcoming. Everywhere you look it’s a visual feast of people and places. I highly recommend.