I first experienced Barcelona life 20 years ago. My lasting memory of the place was a grid of dark Gothic buildings. They give a claustrophobic atmosphere to an otherwise buzzing city. This time around, I was looking forward to seeing how far the construction of the Sagrada Família (the ambitious enormous Gaudí-designed cathedral) had progressed. And I was finally getting to see the Casa Milà (the Gaudí house without a straight line in the place).
Well, I’m afraid to say, I didn’t really achieve either of these goals. Scaffolding and a painted shroud surrounded the house. Undeterred, I did go inside, and was right-royally fleeced. And I skipped the queue for the cathedral, which was as monumental as the building itself. Regardless, I enjoyed the trip for more unexpected reasons, despite being regularly ripped-off.
Like my cultural trip to Paris last year, Barcelona involved several art galleries and lots of walking. I saw many places I’d previously missed. I had a few nice surprises. But this time, overall, I felt that I had gained a better appreciation of Barcelona life. Barcelona, frankly, is a mental bustling place, albeit in a laid-back sort of way.
There was something going on wherever you looked. Frantic activity filled the streets: shop owners pushing stock on carts, skaters and cyclists narrowly missing each other. But, all the while, there was still the feeling that things would get done mañana.