I am walking through a narrow lane, surrounded by many centuries year old buildings. They have seen it all, been through it all. They welcome my inexperienced legs as a cold breeze blows by. The sunshine has just pearced through the smaller gaps and lit up the gothic quarters with an ageless charm. Small traditional shops and cafes dote the lanes along with new establishments. And then in a typical rominisque style, the lane opens up in a beautiful square. During my time in Italy, i had loved piazza novona the most. Well, walking through the gothic quarters is more fun because all of a sudden the small lanes open into beautiful plazas. Much like life, which surprises you when most unexpected.
Only these ones, are almost always pleasant! Like the plaza of pine tree, a little known but beautiful small square with cafes on its side, the fragrance of hot chocolate and coffee traversing through the air, the strings of guitar humming a harmony in synch with its surroundings, a man dressed in white juggling a few sticks to the amazement of both touirists and locals alike, enjoying a delightful morning. An aroma of hope is in the air, as the guitarist changes track to everythings gonna be alright. The square was named after a pine tree that stands tall in the middle of the square, supposedly from roman times! Ah well, only the buildings surrounding the plaza would know.
Getting lost in the gothic quarters is fun. But getting lost in a completely new city can also be worrisome. On my first day i walked across the city without any gps, well, i had to since i couldn´t find a vodafone store easily after starting my walk from the hostel. By the time i found one, i had seen Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, El Corte Ignes shopping centre, apple store, La Ramblas, Bouqueria and a dozen more landmarks. In hindsight, all of that helps since you imprint the map of the city in your head without the gps. With the gps, the real me, the lazy me takes over, so depended on google to guide me through and not scratch my head at all.
I am very impressed by the catalan people, inlcuding the people settled in from across the world and now part of the catalan culture if i may say so. First thing that stuck me was their honesty and a willingness to help. I have never been so fond of any city as much as i am of Barcelona. I came here expecting to see Gaudi´s extravagant structures and picasso´s exquisite brush strokes but i was floored by the approachable, loving and ever so cheerful people in general.
During my time in camp nou, i witnessed first hand how football runs through the people of this beautiful city. FC Barcelona is more than a club, an enigma of sorts that binds the people of this region together. The chants of Barca, still ringing in my ears, were strangely inspirational even to a complete outsider or tourist like me; and then i imagined its electric effect on the locals.
A week has gone by and i have made several walks through the gothic quarters, la ramblas, barceloneta beach, the more modern passeig de gracia, montjuic hill, park guell – all have shown me the lighter side of catalans even in darker times. Sure, the unemployment rates and constant migration have affected the crime rate, but i have never felt unwelcomed or unsafe even at midnight. The city of barcelona and its people seem to welcome everyone with open arms.
With such beautiful people, stunning architecture and wonderful food around, its hard to resist another walk. A walk that might open into another stunning plaza or a colorful fountain. Everything is possible here in the land of barcelona, where life is a walk. Well, that one – literally 😉