I’ve left a piece of my heart in Barcelona.

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Spain - Barcelona | Posted on 10-01-2010


Today was the first time in my travelling that I had a really hard time leaving a city.
I really didn’t feel like I was finished with Barcelona…
The city just felt alive and fantastic.

Styles and smiles.

I’d fallen into a fantastic rhythm.

Our second week there landed us in a really comfortable routine: wake up around noon. work till 10. micronap. go out around midnight or 1. get home around 5-6am. repeat.

I got myself well into a project for work (thanks to some inspirational help from this article about developing in a bubble), but still managed to balance that effort with the opportunity to explore somewhere I can’t imagine not coming back to…

Some highlights:

1) Parc Guell. Brilliant park designed by Antoni Gaudí. I love the fact that Barcelona doesn’t treat architecture just as a funcional requirement, but as a canvas for beauty.

2) Three Kings Parade (Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos). I normally *detest* parades, because the ones I’m usually forced to suffer through are boring and painful to watch (slow. spaced out. dull. uninspired. crap.) This on the other hand, was not. Christmas Day as we know it comes a little later in Barcelona – on Jan 5th, they celebrate the return of the 3 kings and hold a parade in their honor, and that evening is when the kids get their gifts. The parade was great – tons of music, great floats, awesome and HUGE crowd, fireworks and firebreathing… [Side note: We watched it in the city square (Catalanya) and then went to go check out a magic fountain a short train ride away. Fountain wasn’t on, but as we got there, the same parade shows up as it was the end of their route, so we watched it again.]

3) The Picasso Museum and in particular their current exhibition called “Secret Images”. It was an exhibition focused around 20 shunga pieces that Picasso owned and carried with him through all his moves. They’re a japanese style of erotic art that are not suble in their explicit attention to detail. The exhibition went into the history of forbidden art and erotic works and how even though they were being produced by grand masters, they were taboo and could only be shown behind locked doors. It was interesting how the whole ‘tentacle rape’ genre so familar to anime and hentai fans is actually nothing new, as shown by this definately not safe for work, but classic piece from 1814 , which was then shown throughout the next century for the inspiration it provided to more than a few well known artists…

Tentacle rape aside, the regular exhibit at the Picasso museum was hugely educational and impressive. It chronicled his life and works so you could walk through his evolution from schoolboy paintings, to training artist, through his cubist explorations and into his drawings. The cubist pieces were brilliant, as I’d look at it and know exactly what I was seeing on a simple level, but when you broke down the details of the image you were looking at you realized how none of it was as it simply appeared [1 2]. I’d never really been able to fathom what made someone a master artist, but looking closely at the pieces, I saw in each single stroke an intention of vision more focused than anything I’ve ever been able to put to paper.

4) Sagrada Familia. Calling it a church belittles the effort. A temple? A shrine? I can’t really do it justice through words, so go ahead and read the link there for the lowdown. It’s insane. It’s huge. They’ve been building it 1882 and don’t expect it to be finished for another 50 or so years. I spent the better part of an afternoon looking at the details. And an eerie special thanks go out to the invisible hand that pushed me out of the way of the car I didn’t see coming.

5) Getting bombed. I don’t mean the fact that the bars don’t even open until 1am and don’t pick up till 3 and are packed every night. I don’t mean the fact that we went out clubbing more in the past 2 weeks than we did in all of 2009. I don’t even mean the time we spent at this fantastically named drinking haunt (that unfortunately does not serve bacon). By getting bombed, I’m really actually alluding to…

6). Getting bombed on the train. No, nothing blew up… But picture this… You’re one stop into the 25 minute train ride at about 1:30am on a Friday night sitting on the last train back (about 4 cars to a train). Haven’t hit the party stations yet, so there’s but a few people on the train, mostly people coming home from work.

Suddenly, you notice a guy getting on the train wearing a bandana covering his face. He turns and yells to a guy behind you, who you realize is also wearing a bandana, and you see another 10-15 guys with bandana covering their faces pouring down the stairs directly outside your train. The guy who yelled first goes to the front of your train, pulls out a knife, and pops the emergency exit door, which triggers the alarm so the train can’t move. About then, the chinese lady coming home from work clutches her purse and starts screaming hysterically.

Luckily, they weren’t mobbing the train to rob us. The whole group whipped out spray paint cans, and went to work on the side of the train. The sea of bobbing balclava covered faces faded as the windows got covered by layer after layer of spraypaint applied in a well choreographed dance of creation. They’d done this before, and were getting this done quickly. The train conductor tried to stop them, but they’d just swarm around her and take off where the guy she grabbed had left off. The conductor finally gave up on stopping them, and went to work on fixing the alarm and getting the train moving again. By this time, we couldn’t see out of the train but just picked up a symphony of a cussing conductor mixed with hissing spraycans and panicked spanish catcalls and whoopings.

The train finally started moving, after what seemed like ages but was probably 5 minutes. When we popped our head out at the next station to see what’d happened, the train looked like this.

Yeah – graffiti is bad… vandalism… yadda yadda… Their planning was great. They did this as a very, very well orchestrated group in almost no time. No one was hurt. I was just plain impressed.

7) The Wandering. Endless tight classic streets that offer up new little haunts around every twist. Eating somewhere different every night that we’d never find again. Tapas, tapas and more tapas. Custom shops buried here and there… (big note: I have never been in a city that has anywhere near as many fantastic clothing shops for men. omg. shoes.) Every walk was a new adventure.

So yeah…
Sorry I haven’t been updating much.
I’ve been too busy working and letting Barcelona treat me right.

Again, I had a really tough time leaving there this morning…
Can’t say enough good things about it,
and can’t wait to go back.


Comments (1)

Sounds beautiful, dude.