The deafening roar of motorbikes, the bumble bee buzz of scooter type Vespa bikes, buses, cars and the frequent high pitched wail of emergency sirens were my lullaby for the requisite Spanish afternoon siesta.

Balcony doors flung wide open, provided a view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral and the loud hum of traffic noise merged with the sound of children playing at the large school across the road. I was lulled to the blurred place that exists in the space between awareness and sleep.

Barcelona is a vast old city set out on a before its time grid structure, chock full of mind boggling modernist architecture, older style apartment buildings that speak of another era, attractive Spaniards with exquisite taste in bags and shoes, millions of tourists with varying degrees of taste in bags and shoes and of course, a motza of food and drink. Tapas, churros, patisserie, Catalan cuisine, Italian, Vietnamese, Portugese. Wine, beer, cava, sangria. All of varying quality.

We used Trip Advisor and a bit of nouse and managed to (mostly) enjoy good edibles at reasonable prices. The Yak did devour more than his fair share of patatas bravas (a potato tapas dish) and being in a bit of a ‘tourist area’, we probably would have done better going further afield more often. (Kid 2 ended up with a tummy bug/food poisoning case on our two last days, putting a bit of a kybosh on going further afield as we had planned.)

People really do eat late here, it’s no myth. We got into the rhythm of a slightly later start to the day. Heading out for coffee accompanied by delicate little creme patisserie stuffed pastries, followed by some serious sightseeing. Lunch consisted of fresh baguettes and jamon or tapas, then off we trotted back to the apartment for that siesta. We would devour a late afternoon snack then head out the door once more after eight. No self-respecting restaurant opens their doors before eight-thirty, although tapas and pinchos are served earlier. Unfortunately for the Yak, much of the pinchos (small snacks) are served on bread. The Spanish way of life would particularly suit our hot Australian summers although I fear that most of us would fail to return to work after the siesta, as the seductive lure of the pool or beach would prove far too tempting.

The man at the nearby jamon specialist shop was patient with our very poor Spanish skills (I use that word loosely) but we managed to order a few slices of Iberian jamon to go with our crunchy baguettes, tomatoes and Manchego cheese. Wine is plentiful and very reasonable if you visit a good, big supermarket and the tiny and interesting speciality wine shops are also worth a visit or two.

The La Boqueria market was overloaded by tourists, yet still a foodie fantasy land and worth a visit. Rows of perfect chocolates, piles of nuts, vibrant fruits and vegetables and hanging strands of every chilli you could imagine. A lovely local kindly tapped me on the shoulder and told me to beware pickpockets, I had stupidly placed my iPhone in my back pocket whilst buying some plump scarlet plums.

The Sagrada Familia, the iconic Gaudi cathedral was almost a religious experience. God or something akin to God talked to me via Gaudi’s visionary use of space, organic shapes and multi-hued incandescent light.

As I wrote this, it was 10.30 at night, and the Yak and lads were having a different kind of religious experience. They were perched, bums on edge of seat at a tapas bar around the corner watching a Barcelona soccer game with a bunch of passionate Barca fans. They had toured the football stadium Camp Nou earlier that day whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my lone Gaudi ‘La Pederra’ tour. Our little boys heads were full of soccer glory. Messi, Neymar Jr and Suarez. I instead chose to go back to the apartment and enjoy an extra sneaky tumbler of very good Spanish wine and a modicum of peace and quiet.

We made special memories, yet for the Yak and myself, it wasn’t all fun and games. The loss of our Jo bore down heavily upon us at times. However, what we do know is that she would have wanted our boys to experience this big wide world we live in. To laugh, love and shout at the soccer. To eat good food, to learn how to say hola, adios, bueno and bonita. And that is what we will continue to do, wherever and whatever we do, in the best way that we can.

22 thoughts on “Barcelona

    • Thanks Mel, I think our Jo would be chuffed and she would have loved the use of that word. Ha, yes was a bit of a body clock adjustment but I am a bit of a night owl so maybe am more sympathetic with the arrangement?

  1. Oh, you lucky lot. One of my favourite cities in the world, and I miss my frequent visits there. My father still lives 60km down the road, and La Boquería and El Corte Ingles, Passeig de Grácia and the Barri Gotic used to be regular shopping haunts. I remember La Sagrada Familia before it had a roof… It sounds as if you had a brilliant time, and I can really tell the food found favour!

      • Sadly, finances won’t allow a visit anytime soon, and as Pa is now 93, I don’t think I will have an opportunity before he’s gone. Until I emigrated in 2004, I visited Spain several times a year for 20 years, so you could truthfully say I’ve had a generous dose of el bell país, as they say in Catalan.

  2. The tinge of sadness probably heightened your senses to enjoy the experience just that little bit more. I got a tummy bug in Spain too. It forced us to cancel Barcelona. One day soon I’ll get there, it looks wonderful

    • Yes, I think so Sandra. It was a very special time and a fab city. The tummy bug wasn’t much fun, we had to split up and leave one of us back at the apartment with the munchkin. But that’s adventures for you, never quite go to plan! I hope you get there really soon, I am sure you would really enjoy all that is ‘Gaudi’.

  3. Your photos are very evocative of the atmosphere there. I’m not sure how vegetarians would do, but the photo of the market really had me salivating. And there’s plenty to drink 🙂

  4. In spite of the sick kiddo, it looks like you had a wonderful time. Lovely photos, and lovely food! I could never live there, I’m in bed by the time the Spaniards are thinking about dinner!

  5. A bittersweet visit… Hope kid 2 is over his bug and the family is coping with your loss. The Gaudi is marvellous. What a great opportunity for your family to be there. I am in love with the market, the pastries, the the jambon…. Many Mediterranean countries eat late with the main meal mid-day and really only a snack (or tapas!) in the evening. I have difficulties staying awake sometime when we are out with people here in Greece.

    • Bittersweet indeed KW. Kid 2 is all good, we have been pretty sad since coming home and the Yak is doing it tough particularly. To be expected. We just enjoyed the whole experience of being elsewhere. The pastries were pretty fabulous. How wonderful that you get to live and breathe another culture every day. (Maybe you need a siesta those days you are going out at night! 😁)

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