Despite the extra pounds of luggage wearing on me and the engulfing heat, I knew instantly I could only love Barcelona. After checking into my hostel, complete with a shower right in the middle of the room, the quirks of Barcelona began to spread out on to the table. The first sight I had to see, one that is synonymous with the city, was La Sagrada Familia. That day, Antoni Gaudi’s creation looked as though it was melting in the Spanish sun.
Rising from the subway, I was put off but the snaking line to get in to see La Sagrada Familia. After pondering whether to go inside, I did for I didn’t know if I would ever return. Twelve euros later, I am inside a construction that is still not finished, something that began in 1882 and carries on today. Construction workers busy themselves behind the barricades as tourists snap shots of the finished pieces. However those overturned buckets and tools mesmerize me. The quality of being unfinished makes La Sagrada Familia special.
I dip back down into the subway station to discover more of the reasons for which this city is only loved, never hated. I head to La Boqueria Market, one of the world’s great produce markets. More of a cultural experience than a shopping opportunity for me, I find rows of highlighter-colored fruit juices, far too tempting to pass up.
With drink in hand, I stumble upon the Parc de la Ciutadella. By far my favorite point in the city, the park presents park bench after park bench to sit and watch Barcelona go by.
The area was originally a fort, reworked throughout the 19th century to create a space right in the heart of the city you just want to linger in a little longer. Within the park is Cascada, a dramatic fountain inspired by Rome’s Trevi. With the help of Gaudi, Josep Fontsére came up with this design.
Seeing the Cascada fountain from below impresses, but the stairs reaching its top provide a view you wish you could take home. The perfect shade of turquoise, the fountain makes you feel cooler just standing next to it on a hot summer day.
The people-watching continues down to the Barceloneta area, a neighborhood close to the city’s meeting with the Mediterranean. And in quirky Barcelona fashion, strange thought bubbles spring out on the beach, telling you to exercise and walk over to the trash cans. Those of different levels of tan spend time on the fine white sand, surprisingly a nice looking beach for a city.
I close out the day in Barcelona where perhaps the whole city is tonight. At Barcelona Camp Nou, the city’s team is playing Seville. Mostly fathers and sons come to watch the game, bringing snacks packed from home. The massive stadium feels even larger as every seat is nearly occupied. The intensity of Barcelona’s football scene is alive and well here.
And much like a good match, I know Barcelona matches well with most anybody. Right down to the street lamps, dangling like earrings I wouldn’t mind owning, it is in the details in Barcelona, for which you can’t help but be spellbound. Wish you were here.