Blog: Barcelona

2011-09-25 00:00

Barcelona is intoxicating. Several times I have come close to getting a tattoo, and every night I have ended up in some obscure little carrer (street) after mixing it up with the locals. I have butchered their Catalan (the native language) to death, but I am obviously enough entertainment value to warrant the amount of free drinks I have garnered from them.

Apparently this is rare, so I am told. If it is, I consider myself grateful.

Coming to the end of the summer and coinciding with the La Merce music festival, my trip here was to attend the Future Music Forum, plus a few extra days to catch the sights, sounds and smells and get lost in translation.

It's no small miracle that I'm here. It was my birthday last week, and yes, I celebrated in style... even found an appropriate place (pictured) to have lunch on the given day.

I miss my wife and family back home, but there's enough gypsy blood still coursing through these 30-year-old veins to have well and truly indulged the city and all it has to offer.

The Mediterranean climate is glorious. It's 11.19pm as I type this, sitting in shorts and a T-shirt on a street corner outside a local bar with wi-fi, two blocks away from Las Ramblas. I naturally gravitate there every day. I'm not one for too much of the tourist vibe, but Las Ramblas is an entity all it's own. It's where the people are.

The other natural hangout has been the gothic centre of the city, which is what locals call the dodgy part of town. It's characterized by small walkways, small curio shops and plenty of local homes stacked upon each other. I had wine with a local couple inside one such type of place. I struggled - the walls are saturated with the smell of smoke, and there's little ventilation. Seems as though the Spanish are oblivious to the effects of smoking.

I got warned beforehand that the darker side of Barcelona is that pickpockets are rife, especially in the city centre, and so the advice was to be diligent. I had a quiet chuckle after my first day here. If you know your way around the streets of Mzansi, you'll be fine here.

Of course a major attraction of the city is the incredible work of Gaudi, the esteemed artist and architect. It was quite something to finally see for real what I had studied in my fine art degree seven years ago. What an extraordinary person he was.

Right, time to find out what that music is about coming from the block next door. Later.

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