Travel

My Travels to Barcelona – Bhagyashree Dassani

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Two days, that’s all I had. We were in London for my Hubby’s work and he had finished earlier than expected. Knowing that I had perpetual wings on my feet, instead of staying on in the Queen’s country, he had given me a choice to see Scotland. However the senorita in me had been waiting to salsa to Spain for 3 years in a row but my proposal had been disposed for other destinations. I knew this was an opportunity not to let go of. So, not wanting to give my hubby the remotest chance of changing his mind, I booked our flight to Barcelona the very next day.
Of course, he was annoyed. Very annoyed, “Who flies to Spain for 2 days?” he glared at me. “Mi amor, hacemos”(My darling, we do), I put on my Spanish vocabulary in play and batted my long eyelashes at him. He rolled his eyes at my charade, “Things you make me do!” And we were up in the air, heading to Barcelona.

Fortunately, Catalonia Plaza Catalunya the hotel that I had booked without even seeing the reviews, was nice. The rooms were lovely and staff courteous, however there was no time to enjoy the hotel as I wanted to savour the best in the city ….so I got into my shorts and flats to combat the heat and walk and patiently waited for my Hubby to freshen up. Now, its no secret that the best way to put a man’s tension to rest is feed him a good meal….and fast. So, as we walked down La Ramblas (Barcelona’s oxford street), my eyes darted around to find a perfect filling vegetarian meal that could be aptly spiced up to suit my hubby’s tastebuds. I got lucky with Maoz falafel, I could now take him anywhere.

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La Ramblas, the most buzzing street of Barcelona. It was lined with trees on either side to provide enough shade to be able to enjoy the sun without getting too sweaty, to be able to soak up the vibrant energy of all kinds of people. Tourists, performers, bizarrely dressed characters standing poised for a photo-op for a euro. I smiled to myself, I was finally in Spain.
There were tiny restaurants, small souvenir stalls, and of course the gelato and icecream n waffle shops that sent me drooling. Everything looked so delicious and mouth- watering that honestly I didn’t care about the calories going in. After all we would be walking enough to burn it all. So I picked up a scoop of strawberry yogert/icecream over a crisp chocolate waffle. My hubby couldn’t help but laugh looking at the ecstasy filled expression that burst on my face with the very first bite. Great! So basically my eating the icecream had cooled him off…I didn’t know how that worked but who cared! We were off to a great start.

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At the end of the street is Placa de Catalunya. A huge fountain, Font de Canaletes was the star attraction of the square. Pigeons fluttered around, pecking at the grains scattered by tiny tots as their mothers looked on indulgently. I remembered my lazy holiday afternoons with my kids, though it seemed such a long time ago. The magic fountain, Montjuic, another tourist attraction was about 10 mins away, but it has certain timings for display and since we were short on time we decided to discover what the city was all about walking through the little lanes n allies around La Ramblas instead.

We headed towards the Riberia district which is known for its Gothic Flamboyant Architecture. The Cathedral of Sant Eulalai is the dominant structure in the Gothic square. Her crypt stands in the church and the 13 white geese inside the cloister, represent the age she was martyred. The façade of the church stands large and daunting with its pointed steeples, the structure outside more severe as compared to the abundant light that flooded the insides of the church. The windows had stained glass paneling which was quite appealing in contrast to the somber stone paneling. The imagination and creativity that was there during the medevial times fascinated me. All the lanes around this area were very artistically designed and as we walked by, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the cobbled lanes of Venice.
From the Gothic Square outside the church we headed towards the Placa Reial or the Royal plaza. It was a huge square with restaurants all around and a lovely fountain in the center. There were musicians serenading the tourists with their compositions and gymnasts, artists, magicians all displaying their talents. It was a place where a delightful evening could be spent. We decided, this was it. We would have dinner and then head for the nightclubs. Too many things were left to cover but I dared not say, “time is so short.”
Italiano Rossini was a restaurant that seemed to be abuzz with lots of young couples. Well, we did fit into that genre since we were on our own. A bottle of the best red wine, lip smacking risotto and we were set to dance the night away. Since we didn’t want to venture too far we went to the nearest ones at the Placa Reial itself, nightclubs Sidecar, Jamboree and Karma.

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The morning began with an early breakfast at 9.30am, considering that we must have slept at 3am after clubbing. Unfortunately the trial of the Spanish Omelet didn’t quite agree with my Hubby, “Why can’t you order some safe food?” My eyebrows did a permanent botox lift but I decided against speaking, I had one more day at hand and didn’t want to jinx my plan. I really wanted to see the Sagrada Familia. Its construction had begun in the 1860’s and was still in the making. Almost 5 generations had seen the structure rise. Planned with 18 towers, 2 signifying Christ and Virgin Mary each, the 4 Gospels and lastly the 12 Apostles. Gaudi didn’t live beyond the completion of the first tower but his vision and design were continued generation after generation. The Sagrada Familia was probably Gaudi’s best gift to Spain. The painted Venetian glass glistening against the sun, the colourful enamelled ceramic tiles, the exquisite workmanship and the sheer magnanimity of the structure sends you into a tizzy. For me it was a breathtaking creation of artistic passion for life with its vibrant vivid colours. My trip to Barcelona seemed totally worth it.

Infact the entire city of Barcelona is beautiful, there is so much character to the buildings, and the way each of them is designed. There is a tremendous influence of Gaudi which brings a confluence of style to the Gothic as well as the more modern structures.
While I could have gone on and on, I knew it was time to do some more anger…oops sorry, hunger management. The Placa de Sant Josep Orial street, which was home to many quaint shops was our next destination. But first, my Hubby had to be fed. We decided to enjoy the outdoor seating of a lovely Tapas place as we would get to enjoy the feel of the city. I quickly placed the order for a veg Paella, an exquisite rice preparation with loads of veggies and tempered with spices…just right for the Indian palate. It was delicious and the chef took it upon himself to explain in detail of how it was cooked with such love that I could have eaten it all over again. As I asked for the bill I was pleasantly surprised when they said it was on the house, and all that they wanted was a photo of the star of Te Amo (the Spanish version of Maine Pyar Kiya). It was then that I remembered that my film had been dubbed in Spanish. I blushed with embarrassment. Sometimes the unexpected happens.

All taken care of we ventured into the delightful stores housing local designer products ranging from clothes to bags, masks to swords. Having had my fill of the Chanel, Gucci, Reiss and Zara in London, I was happy to rummage through some uniquely crafted products. Individual in their art and design, the designers themselves were owners of these shops. They would love to make pleasant conversation with you, share their passion of creativity with you, even if you didn’t buy anything at all. I absolutely loved the vibe. The “Owl” handbag I picked up there, is still the subject of conversation at many of my luncheons here in Mumbai.
As the day drew to a close, we returned to our hotel to shower and dress for the night. We were going to some of the swanky places known to have after-parties for Madonna, Lady Gaga and Coldplay, highly recommended by my internet toured children. Port Olympic lined the best of places; The Opium Bar, Danzatoria and Shoko that even has beds on the beach. The night was young and for the Senorita the salsa had just begun.
Two days are definitely not enough to enjoy Barcelona, let alone Spain but I had got a glimpse of was in store. I would be back for more.

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