I don’t usually do this. Writing about my traveling experiences, that is. But as I was in the cab on my way to the airport about half an hour ago I was overwhelmed by such feelings about my weekend in Barcelona that I feel the urge to write. Not much better to do while waiting to board the airplane, true.
Short intro: I used to live here a while back. From September 2002 to February 2003 to be precise. One semester abroad on a university exchange program. In one word: mind-blowing.
Now back to the present day.
For a start, renting a scooter for the weekend was the best decision ever, except for one thing (see later). It allowed me to move around freely and therefore do so many more exciting things than I would have otherwise. The city has a huge variety of attractions and is perfectly structured for traveling on a small motorized two-wheeler.
Also, two good friends of mine were supposed to join me here, to party together at Sonar, and more. But one had to cancel for work reasons and the other couldn’t make it because of visa issues. Turns out, it was great to be semi-alone, as I would have stayed with them most of the time. I say semi-alone because I still had some contacts in Barca, some visiting for the party weekend just like me, others living here.
Without dwelling too much over the concrete details of my schedule during the weekend, I’ll just say that I did a bit of, in no particular order:
- working from my hotel room :(
- eating tapas and tortillas
- sunset watching from the top of Montjuic with an outside barbecue
- attending a Jewish Film Festival movie screening
- drinking quite a bit
- seeing old friends again
- meeting new friends
- light partying (beach lounge, clubs)
- heavy partying (Sonar + off-Sonar pool party)
- walking around the old town
- visiting my old neighborhood (and even the building I lived in!)
- visiting the Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia
- chilling out at my hotel swimming pool
- hiking to Tibidabo
and probably some more. I did even manage to squeeze in a little bit of sleep here and there (mostly half-an-hour meditation sessions turning into 3-hour naps).
All I want to say is that Barcelona has this perfect mix of classical beauty, deep historical roots, a strong local culture on the one hand (what I call the static part), and a vibrant, young, artistic, experimental, outgoing, PARTYING inclination on the other (what I call the dynamic part). Plus it enjoys a superb climate and is surrounded by the sea and gorgeous hills. It’s like an old beautiful landscape Renaissance painting where you might spot some house music raves going on here and there.
I need to add one thing. Last night was crap. I knew the whole night was doomed when I had to wait in line over an hour to get in to the Becool club (and therefore miss Soul Clap playing (I did advance a lot on the latest installment of Angry Birds)). I’ve stopped waiting in lines a few years ago already – if I don’t know for sure I’m getting in quickly, I simply don’t go. I feel I’m old enough to allow myself that snobbery. But last night I had joined some friends and it was my last night in town and anyway I didn’t have another plan. Worse, the music was mostly bad and so we decided to go somewhere else. We joined some more friends in the center of town (Las Ramblas) and started walking to a new club. I hadn’t fully locked my scooter so at one point on the way I decided to go back to get my scooter and join my friends at the club with it. When I got to it, three dodgy guys were sitting on and around it. So I made them move, started the motor and left ASAP, not wanting to open the “trunk” in front of them to retrieve the helmet. While driving I thought for a second I could go all the way to the club without wearing it, as it wasn’t far away. But I revised myself immediately and stopped after some 50m to put on my helmet. That’s when two police officers who had seen me drive without it approached me on foot, asked for my papers and fined me 100 Euros. I explained the whole thing, and insisted on how serious I am about wearing a helmet etc. but they didn’t budge. Of course according to the letter of the law they were completely right, but what I expect from any police force is something different: when you see that a citizen has made a genuine mistake for a good reason and that s/he’s learned her/his lesson, give her/him another verbal warning, a harsh look in the eyes, and then let her/him go. What I concluded instead was that had I continued driving a bit, I wouldn’t have been fined, since they wouldn’t have caught up with me. Bad result, obviously, but at least it puts some cash in the police coffers…
Anyway, the whole thing made me very angry and I wasn’t in the mood for partying anymore, it was past 5am, my plane was at 1.40pm, so I went back to my hotel and slept it out (even though my frustration prevented me from falling asleep easily, however tired I was).
So I woke up today with a bitter taste in my mouth, packed my bags, checked out of the hotel, returned the scooter, had a delicious coffee with chocolate croissant on a sunlit terrace in the Born area, and grabbed a taxi to the airport. It’s during that ride that I felt that the whole episode was actually somehow fitting well for my weekend in Barcelona. It’s that bittersweet feeling. And it reminded me a lot of my previous journey here, years ago. Lots of fun, with a tinge of sadness. Transgressing many limits to discover oneself, yet regretting some things later on. Letting oneself experience deep feelings, but suffering from nostalgia years later.
Barcelona, a long time ago you and I had a short, intense, wonderful relationship.
I had to come back to discover I’m still secretly a bit in love with you.
Hasta la proxima…