17 April 2009
4:30am and the alarm is screeching. Time to get moving - places to go, people to see. By places, I mean Barcelona. By people, I mean the magnificent Alyson, who joined me from DC for 11 days of sites, sounds and laughs all the way from Washington, DC. As Lisbon is perfect, it took 10 minutes to get to the airport and another 10 to get to my gate, so all was ON TIME. I arrived on a micro-plane that - even with it’s petite size - still managed to let all of us know exactly where we stand in the word thanks to a curtain that divided the plane in half. “Please stay in your cabin,” they said over the loud speaker. Cabin? There are 10 rows on the plane!
Fortunately Alyson was early and waiting for me on a bench looking like she had just flown from America. “Are you tired,” I asked her. “I’m alright,” she said. What a trooper. After dropping our bags at base camp with Team Barcelona (you’ll meet them next time) we hit the city. Knowing the next few days were forecast with rain, we decided to plow the streets, get our bearings and see all the “outside” sites. Coffee stops would take place every few hours to keep Alyson artificially awake. And we were off! Even under clouds, the city retained its grandeur. The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona has hosted the Olympics, been home to some of the World’s most renowned artists and maintained its reputation as “Europe’s most chilled out city” for decades. We concur.
First it was through L’Eixample, where Spain’s burgeoning middle class built burgeoning wealthy housing to live in just north of Old Town. We passed Gaudi after Gaudi (more on him in a later edition), capping off with The Sagrada Familia - quite possibly the most beautiful church on earth.
We wandered gorgeous avenues, meandered through romantic parks (where I decided that every few minutes I would look deep into Alyson’s eyes and say to her, “You’re Pretty”). It’s still funny days later.
There was Las Ramblas, the “main drag” where it seemed everyone had congregated on this Good Friday (like the holy one, though it was a pretty great Friday in it’s own right). The Ramblas highlight has to have been the sample portrait of Shiloh Joli-Pitt, which was highlighting the work of one of the street artists. “Do people here even know who she is?” Alyson wondered.
The coffee stops came in all forms - tiny cafes, “chain” restaurants and yes, even in the glistening sun. Note the immediate increase in Alyson’s “happy” quotient as evidenced by that smile.
The city was capped off by Montjuic, where we made it just in time to see the music and water show, which incorporated nearly 50 fountains stretching down across nearly a quarter of a mile.
Of course no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a stop at the beach, where the freezing water found us sitting at a sand-laid cafe instead, admiring the adorable little girl who had stolen her Mom’s shoes and was doing what she could to hit the road. By the end of it all Alyson was understandably exhausted, so we had a quick [delicious] dinner and headed back to base camp, where Alyson proceeded to sleep for a solid 11 hours. Well done Langon. Well done.