Barcelona is a city of bright lights, energy and pride. It is a city of artists and travellers and a healthy population of ambitious Catalonians. It’s a place I now love.
Anyway, continuing on from the first half of this story, the day after the most restless sleep of my entire European adventure, I took up the chance to go on a walking tour (provided by the great Tour Me Out group) focused on the marvels of Antoni Gaudí. Now here’s an architect I can really get behind. Casa Batllo, with it’s dragon shaped roof and shard covered fresco was amazingly whacky (I’m sure Hundertwasser would have loved it) but Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s masterwork, was something else. It was, and is, undoubtedly, the most incredible building I’ve ever been inside. The psychedelic interiors and almost heavenly exterior is a true celebration of the power of God, gods or whatever spirit of the universe you believe in, or simply the incredible vision of people and the wonders of sacred geometry.
To know that it’s not even finished yet (even a hundred years after Gaudí was tragically struck down by a tram and left to die) and soon to be the tallest church in Europe made the visit extra special. I realised I was witnessing the creation of a historical monument that will be remembered and celebrated for millennia (if we don’t blow each other up first). I’m definitely aiming to go back now in 2026, it’s expected completion date, to take part in whatever service or celebration is going to be offered. That’s one for the bucket list. Check out some pics of it below.
I must admit though, the lack of sleep the night before did not start me off well. After the tour, and the splitting up of the group (a bit of a snafu with tickets and entry times to the Sagrada), I came to feel a bit lonely and exhausted again. I was a little peeved that, like many times before, things worked out in a way that left me walking alone. As I stumbled through the city in search of sustenance, I came to realise that maybe my independence isn’t actually the best thing for me. The idea that the only person I can rely on is me, forged in me by years of monumentally fucked up group drama, is actually doing me harm.
By being so forward thinking and headstrong in what I want to do I’m sometimes missing out on the spontaneous adventures that more care-free and less seriously deep-thoughted people encounter so easy. If I hadn’t planned my career moves, my exactly flights and accommodation details and just left more to chance maybe things would be different (ooh, James, that’s a dangerous phrase. There’s no sense wondering about parallel universes without a way to get to them, you know that). Maybe if I put away the niggling fear of chaos things would open up more to me? I don’t know… These are just some thoughts to help me move forward; some experimental psychic recipes for future happiness…
The trip to Park Güell, the beautiful mosaic covered garden designed by Gaudí for his rich pal Güell, was marred a bit my the attitude that had descended on my that day. Despite that, the park itself was beautiful… I just wish I could have seen through the cloud of sadness that floated around me for those short hours. I was cheered up in the end though, in a melancholy sort of way, by a guy playing absolutely awesome blues guitar on the top of the highest peak of the park. With the sun setting across the sprawling city it just seemed so right. A quick walk back through a part of the town with a really weird, indescribable ambience, landed me back in the sweaty metro, and soon I was back home to check my timetable for the next day and take a quick power nap.
I ended up waltzing through the more artsy El Born Barrio in search of a veggie dinner. Finding the delightful “Cat Bar” was a miracle. I filled up to bursting point on tapas and burgers.
Of course, in Spain, things really come alive at night, and so did I.
This second night, similar but different to the night previous, saw me journey back the same bar to watch an amazing and casual Flamenco show. We (myself, the Americans and the single girl from Colombia that I had met) were all blown away by the tap tap tapping of the dancer, but quickly came to realise that, to outsiders, Flamenco can grow a bit “samey” after a while. We popped our heads in to an Irish pub for a pint of the black stuff before heading home for a slightly better night’s sleep. I mean, I was still woken up twice, but that’s definitely not as bad as what I’d already gone through.
Hittin’ the Beach
My final day was a lot quieter than the previous two. I took a quick, sunny walk back to Sagrada Familia, my favourite building in the world, before saying “see yous” and splitting. I ended up wandering the chic Barrio streets again, looking for gifts and arts to take back home, before heading down to the youthful and energetic Barceloneta. This is a great suburb with a great vibe, though I’m sure in the more peak summer months, it would be far more bustling and disgusting.
The relatively quiet beach and open walkways were a grand place to spend an hour or so, even if I had no swimming hear. It’s absolutely impossible to believe that it is currently winter when your walking among palm trees in a single shirt on a 21 degree day. Perfect… but also really scary. What’s in store for the world if this is now winter in Europe and my home in Adelaide is currently the hottest place in the world… again.
After that I sped across the city by metro to write the final notes for these two posts, sitting among the palms and flowers at Joan Miró park. Seems like a nice way to wrap up three days of sweaty corridors, gothic masterpieces and chaotic colours, doesn’t it? Barcelona, I’m sure will always stick with me, if not for it’s sites, then for it’s people as well.
A massive question thrown up by this trip, though, is… well… what the hell am I doing next year? A lot of the people staying at hostel I was staying at seemed to have stories of their adventurous moves and immigration. They’d seemingly all lived in or were otherwise in the process of packing up their old lives and moving to Europe on a whim. One girl lived in Shakespeare and Company in Paris for three weeks, surrounded by aspiring authors. The other has been knocking around Spain for two years getting paid to cook paella for hostels. A third moved to Barcelona three years ago and makes a travel-living from giving guided tours.
Man, it makes you wonder if maybe you’re meant to stay? I mean, being a citizen of the UK means I wouldn’t have too much trouble living in this great land. Although I do feel strangely at peace in this continent and find that travelling, meeting new people and seeing new things are incredibly fulfilling, I do recognise living here would be another matter. Finding work, housing and legal status might be a nightmare… But still, others have done it, and quite easily.
I tell myself though, that my life is at home, everything I’ve built up is in Adelaide, as are my family and oldest friends. The strange thing is, though, that I’m really struggling to find a reason to spend the rest of my life there. It just wouldn’t work for me anymore. The friends I’ve lost there, the dramas I’ve gone through and a general air of pessimism about the future of the state all cloud my positivity… Things seem brighter on the road, but that also comes with less security and a call for bravery. It’s an abandonment of the shackles at home.
I’m so conflicted and know that whatever happens in the next month or two, my mind still won’t be made up. I think, this time, with dwindling resources and two uni degrees back home to finish within the year, there isn’t much of a chance of me leaving it all behind and starting again in another world. But the question from this trip remains… what if?
So I say “adiós” to Catalonia for now with a departing view of the impressive Magic Fountain up from Placa de Espanya. In fact, it’s hardly “adiós”, more “hasta lluego”, because I know that I’ll be back one day to see more. Anyway, I’ll be seeing the country again (and one of my favourite niñas) in January, so that’s definitely something to look forward to. I won’t be moving to Spain anytime soon, but, you know… there’s always that “one day”.