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barcelona: hasta luego

June 1, 2009

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In the morning, I say goodbye to Violeta and wander back to the beach.  Sunshine licks the tops of buildings, leaving the narrow streets down below shadowed and sheltered from the heat.  The labyrinthine alleys are lined with tiled portraits of saints and potted geraniums in windowsills and laundry hanging from balconies.   You really get a different sense of a city in the quiet of morning, when the music has stopped and the bottles are corked, and the shutters are closed.

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One by one, garage doors spray painted with graffiti are raised as shop and café owners prepare to open.  The day begins in Barcelona.   On the beach, a man rides by on his bicycle, whistling, with a live parrot on his shoulder.  He slowly zigzags across the boardwalk.  I’m pretty convinced he has a black patch on his left eye, though I may well have imagined the whole thing.

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I remove  my shoes and walk the sandy beach barefoot.  It is quiet this early.  A dog takes his morning dump on a sand castle that someone surely put a lot of time and energy into building.  A girl sits in lotus and meditates facing the rising sun.  A homeless man sleeps under a palm tree.  It’s always such a forlorn sight but I guess it’s better than sleeping on a bench at a bus stop on the corner of St-Denis and Laurier in Montreal’s March.

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I arrive at the hostel at 10am to meet Simon, my Australian buddy.  Together, we go on a walkabout all the way up to Montjuic Park, where lavender blooms.  The park is a musical playground, whether it be teeter totter contraptions that blow whistled notes when stepped on or noise making levers or the five large whoopee-like-cushions on the ground that play do-re-mi-fa-sol when you run across them.  We end up at Castell de Montjuic, which isn’t all that impressive but the commanding 360 degree view of Barcelona is.  We spend more time being big kids on the sled and laughing at this danger sign, which looks less like a warning than someone break dancing (as if to say “be careful of upside down people“).  I don’t know why but it is hilarious at the time.

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We find a  fabulous place for lunch in a small plaza in the bario gottica.  We have big beers and bigger salads (roquette and spinach with cured ham, tomatoes and a big chunk of goat cheese in a sweet mustard vinaigrette).   After lunch, we sit on the ground in the sun to write postcards and share music on our iPods.

A man lies down beside us and proceeds to have a full on conversation with himself.  He is having a jolly good time too, laughing for a good half hour. Drama unfolds when two dogs get into a nasty fight and the owner of one gets bitten on the arm as she tries to interfere.  She is really shaken up and white in the face and looks like she is about to pass out.  The police are there within minutes and eventually her boyfriend takes her away.  Es muy dramático!

photo taken by simon gardiner

photo taken by simon gardiner

… back at the hostel, Ryan and Liam are playing ping pong and cheesy Spanish pop/rock videos blasting from the corner television garner great guffaws from us all.  The fromage is almost unbearable but we are drawn to the 80’s feel of it all.

In the evening, I meet Tom Hayton (a photographer from London with whom I corresponded through couch surfing) by the fountain at Plaza Real.  We stroll to Bo de B for dinner.  The restaurant is a favorite local joint.  It is very quaint with 4 or 5 little tables and washed out green walls.  Salsa style music plays loudly and the owner is dancing and clapping away.  It is very festive.  It is very Barcelona.  On Tom’s advice, I order the hamburger wrap, all dressed with corn, sweet potatoes, onions, lettuce, olives and tomatoes.  It is gigantic and so full of spicy goodness.  We have mint tea with honey served in a Moroccan silver tea pot then poured into small glasses the size of 4 oz shooters.

From there, Tom takes me to Suprosa, where he buys me the absolute best mojito of my life.  The place is like a typical Barcelona bar.  Small, dark, intimate, smoky.  From the ceiling hangs various lights, each with different lampshades.  Ornate antique mirrors hang on the wall.  Very retro.  Very red.   The music is fantastic, all old school, but remixed.  On the bar sits massive jugs filled with limes and mint leaves.  The bartender from Liverpool crushes the mint, chopped limes and cane sugar in a glass with a pestle, free pours the rum and adds a splash of soda right at the end.  This is surely the drink being served up on heaven’s beaches.

Around 11:00, we say good night and I head back to the hostel where there is always a party.  The bar is open until 2am, even on a Tuesday.  I hang out with Liam, Ryan and Simon for a bit then sit next to the Aussie bartender.  I say he looks dejected.  He says the doesn’t know what that means.  I proceed to define dejected.  He replies he missed me.  There is no subtlety in the flirting between us.  He stares intensely, which simultaneously knocks me off guard while boosting my confidence to a “you don’t intimidate me” level.  It’s a back and forth banter that has been going on since my first night in Barcelona when I thought…. “dude, I’m not some easily impressionable 20-something.  You’re talking to a 33-year old, I see right through your game.”  We both know though, that it can only end one way.  This much tension needs to be released.  Sure, I think he’s a conceited fool and I could not give in just to make a point but what is the point in that?  It’s my last night in Barcelona, I might as well enjoy myself.

My 3 amigos go to bed around 12:30.  The bartender and I don’t say much, he just stares at me.  I ask him why he keeps staring at me.  He says, I just wonder how much more time we are going to waste.  I say none.  I can hardly believe the words marching strait out of my mouth, with conviction and confidence.  We hop in the elevator.  The door closes.  He kisses me.  The doors open, we head to his room on the 6th floor.   What happens behind closed doors stays there but I will say this, I am tempted to write a letter of appreciation to the hostel to tell them that their bartender provides great service and attention to detail.  I leave the room at 3am.  I don’t know his name, nor do I want to.  I like the mystery of it all.  Different people will have different opinions on the matter.  I see it as cultivating my curiosity after nearly 13 years of monogamy.

I have 3 hours left to sleep until I hop on the bus at 6am, back to the airport and on the plane to Venice.  Barcelona was intoxicating… a feast of sounds and smells and sights.   But I am ready to leave the party behind and begin a different kind of journey in Italy.  One that is a little more introverted and quiet.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. kristen permalink
    June 1, 2009 6:58 am

    i don’t comment here much but i always read.
    dude, you’re my hero. really.

  2. lunacyn permalink
    June 1, 2009 2:15 pm

    “He says, I just wonder how much more time we are going to waste. I say none. ”

    nice! 😉

  3. June 1, 2009 4:24 pm

    saucy girl!

    and am seriously loving the photos.

  4. June 2, 2009 8:54 am

    That first photo!!!! OMG! Jaw dropping.

  5. June 2, 2009 12:53 pm

    Saucy indeed! And what a beautiful name Violeta is.

  6. Alison permalink
    June 3, 2009 11:56 am

    I agree Carla. I just stared and stared at that first photo. Those colors!
    Love the photos, love the story.

  7. kathryn Guerriero permalink
    June 7, 2009 6:19 pm

    sigh…sigh…big sigh
    i so love the way you see the world, the way you lasso the light and string series of perfect words like pearls of delicious delight.
    amazing
    LOVE

  8. June 25, 2009 10:58 am

    Oh he!!, you’re my hero.

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