Just over a week after my parents left, Chris and I packed our bags full of our frantically bought summer clothing (you don’t really need summer clothing in Scotland) and headed off to sunny Barcelona. Hit with a wave of humid heat as we stepped off the plane, we oohed and ahhed over the palm trees, followed by me complaining of how I cant stand the heat approximately 10 minutes later. We met up with my folks at the apartment they had rented and quickly set our belongings down and walked off in search of sustenance. We had the first of what would be many, long leisurely meals full of Spanish wine and delicious tapas. It was at this early point in our trip that I vowed to eat croquettes everyday. After lunch we rambled our way to Las Ramblas, admiring the plethora of architecturally diverse facades that pepper the wide terra cotta streets of the city. We poked around the covered market, because Chris and I will always gravitate to markets, and guzzled at much needed fresh fruit juices as the heat barreled down on our pasty white skin. For dinner we had beer and more tapas and for dessert we walked to Sagrada Familia to see it in all its creepy surrealist glory. It wasn’t until later that evening during my Barcelona related research when I discovered that we were looking at the passion façade, designed to evoke repulsion and fear. It’s effective. The whole face of the building seems to be covered in sinew and muscle and as you stare up at the heaving, sky scratching towers you can’t help but notice the twisted and ominous looking figures staring back down at you.
The next morning Mum and I walked down our street to a nearby bakery to pick up a feast of pastry and coffee for everyone. Once satisfyingly full of butter and dough, we squeezed ourselves into our swimsuits and headed to the beach. We were very fortunate to have our friend Anna, a Catalonian beauty herself, send us a million tips and tricks before our visit, and happily we followed her directions straight up to a quieter beach. It was great! No screaming children, no litter….and no clothes. We went to a nude beach. We didn’t realize it until 3 and a half hours later when we were leaving. The entire time we happily sat at the beachside café, fully clothed I might add, enjoying the sunshine, cool water and just happily assuming that Spain was far less puritanical than the rest of us. We had a good laugh as walked down the series of beaches on our way home, quickly noticing that the clothing to skin ratio significantly increased the farther down we walked. After absorbing our vitamin D intake for the summer, we went back to the apartment for naps, siestas, and air conditioning. My Dad has been teaching himself Spanish since Christmas, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how incredible he was! He can easily carry on a conversation and had no trouble at all ordering all the food and giving all the directions and pleasantries necessary for the duration of the trip. It was very impressive!
The evening was full of more tapas, more wine, and more walks around the city as the sun dipped it’s way behind the buildings, allowing us to explore the ancient parts of Barcelona that we weren’t able to stomach during the high heat of the day.
The following morning we walked to the Picasso museum, which is really great if you’re into Picasso. There’s 4000 or so works to look at, including a very large portion of his blue period. If cubism isn’t your thing, then there’s a really swell café just next door where we had a delicious lunch in a beautiful and atmospheric courtyard. Mum and I had pre-booked tickets for the Sagrada Familia and thankfully getting in was a breeze. Inside was an absolutely over stimulating experience and I think that Chris’ photos capture it far better than my words ever could. A mix of light and space and colour floods the whole inside of what truly feels like the climax of a Dr. Seuss dream. It is truly unlike anything you will ever see again. Underneath the cathedral is a fantastic museum about the building itself, including the mathematical and natural botanic phenomenon that inspired Gaudi, and made the towering and surreal sculpture possible.
That evening we went to another of Anna’s spot on recommendations for our final meal of the trip. We delved into plates of tapas, followed by steaming bowls of paella. The food was excellent and, despite my significant cringing as I slowly picked out the whole octopi from my bowl and subtly placed them on Chris’ plate, it was definitely the best paella I’ve ever had. The entire trip was a wonderful break, full of fantastic food, spectacular architecture and wonderful family time.
The next morning we said our goodbye’s and Chris and I headed home to Edinburgh, wool sweaters close at hand just in case.