Or is this just fantasy?
As I wander the streets of Barcelona, the melody of the song by the same name by Queen rings in my ears, however the lyrics are quickly replaced by the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. This town is spectacular. For several days we stayed in the older section of town called Sant Pere, with narrow walkstreets, charming cafes, hidden boutiques, secret plazas with a collection of terrace cafes. I knew very little of Barcelona when I booked my trip to come here. Little did I know that I would fall in love with this city in a matter of days. Around every corner, I find something endearing, an original streetlamp attached to the side of a medieval building, with the original stones bearing through, art deco water pumps, laundry hanging to dry from the balconies, and the blooming jacaranda trees.
The first couple days here we mostly cruised around the neighborhoods to get our bearings. We visited the Boqueria, the central market, to stock up on ingredients for a dinner party we decided to hold at the flat we're renting. We had a typical 2-hour European lunch at a cafe behind the market, and then went home for a siesta afterwards. Suxata la Xara told us that magically we would somehow immediately jump into the Spanish timeframe and lifestyle. And pouf! Like magic, it happened without even trying. Our dinner guests arrived at 9:30 pm. We sat down for dinner at 10:30 (I prepared 4 whole fishes stuffed with chopped basil, garlic and lemon rind) and a huge salad. Suxata la Xara sauteed these little green peppers that were so hot that all our guests got the hiccups. The dinner party was over at 12:30, and this was a weeknight! Dinner is not even an option at restaurants at 6 or 7 pm. They send you away, and say that the kitchen is not open. Here an early bird special (if the Spaniards would even allow something like that to happen) wouldn't start until 9 pm.
Oh! How could I forget to report that the previous night, Will (Suta's friend from Maui), Suxata and I went to a gay club. When we got to the door at 1 am, the bouncer told us that the club was dead and people wouldn't start arriving for another hour. So we went inside anyway, ordered drinks and waited for the Spaniards. And they did arrive in droves. By about 2:30, the club was packed with transvestites and transexuals. It was a learning experience. I will spare you the details. Needless to say, Suxata and I decided to wait until we got home to use the restroom.
Suxata, Will and I hit the Joan Miro gallery yesterday. The best part of the experience for me was when Suta approached me and asked "What makes art good?" Apparently she was struggling to understand Miro's minimalist/surrealist interpretations of women, stars and birds. We sat down in front of a triptych of paintings--each a white canvas with a single black line painted across. I handed her my audio guide so she could listen to the artist's own interpretation of these works (whose title escapes me but it was something about the flight of a solitary man or recluse). I let her sit and take it in while I checked out the other paintings in the room. When I came back, I tapped her on the shoulder and found tears streaming down her face, touched by the the artist's portrayal of the freedom that Miro felt in painting this minimal depiction of a single line in space. I looked at the paintings again, through Suta's eyes, which hadn't moved me at first look, but now that I remember them, they were among the most breathtaking pieces we saw at the museum that day.
Last night, we joined my pal Sheila and her boyfriend Albert for some independent theater. Albert is an actor here in Barça. He and some friends put on a play that was in Catalan. Luckily for us, it was mostly physical humor, so even though I barely understood a word (still struggling with the language), we had some good laughs. Afterwards we had dinner (sat down around 10 pm) and then headed to a discoteca in a neighborhood called Gracia.
Today we are off to check out the modernista architecture (art nouveau) by Antoni Gaudi--the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. It goes without saying that the architecture in this city is stunning. I wish I had more time to linger here. I've been inspired by my pal Sheila who has been here for over a year and a half, and Young who decided to spend the entire summer here. Dare I say I have found a new love? Well, I'm off to France tomorrow morning. Paris (my old flame) beckons...