I almost went there. I always knew I would live in Spain, but couldn’t decide where, there was always some unnamed force pulling me to Barcelona. I wanted to get the most Spanish experience possible, and after hearing so many stories about people studying aboard in Barcelona and not becoming fluent my decision about Granada became solidified. Ironically the first city I was instinctively drawn to, was the last city in Spain for me to visit. My inkling about Barcelona was predestined, it seemed, for me to love it whether or not the city met my expectations– which, I am happy to say it did.
It was the last spot on our amazing Christmas vacation; we had come to Spain’s notorious party city for the most notorious party night of the year: New Years. We were lucky enough to stay with my friend Reid, whose apartment had a view of the Sagrada Familia, which hung in the background as a constant reminder of Barcelona’s energetic individuality, hovering in my mind’s eye even while we gathered in the living room listening to the clock strike midnight, bringing in 2012 while we all shoved the traditional twelve lucky grapes into our mouths. After an extremely late, even by Spanish standards, we set out into the city enjoying all that Barcelona had to offer. Walking to the metro there was the Sagrada Familia once again, dominating the crowded skyline, giving it a definite spot on the map in a passive, yet forcefully manner, pulling the world’s attention towards it, much like the city of Barcelona itself– the coolest kid at school who doesn’t try at all; the unaware trendsetter. After my first afternoon I understood why Barcelona is known for Gaudí– not because of his revolutionary architecture, but because Barcelona is a Gaudí creation in and of itself. It’s a mosaic of a thousand different colors, separate yet unified. Its a sprawling buzzing coastal city for the senses, with ubiquitous sounds, smells, and sights to keep ones head spinning in every direction trying to take it all in. It’s this hustle and bustle of Barcelona that sets the foundation for the appreciation for art here, making art a priority, a necessity, with huge displays of public art, mountainous and colorful, skillfully placed around every corner– in the center of every plaza. Barcelona is a single color, yet of a thousand different shades. It’s still a large European city, which once you’ve seen enough of them, they begin to melt into one another, but Barcelona has a different ambiance, a different spark in the air, giving every visitor a fizz with every breath. Its distinct atmosphere and its own unique and self-generated style instantly sets it apart from the rest of the spots on the map. A city of design, a new type of arte noveau, a simple reduction of inspirations pieced together tile fragment by tile fragment and then carefully placed together in a colorful Park Güell bench.
As the sun set on our last night Kaley and I walked through the Montjuïc after a sisterly afternoon of enjoying the Miró exhibit. A soft, golden haze coated each building, giving the hard concrete edges a new softness as the last of the Mediterranean rays fled while I watched my almost life, my alternative reality shrink into the blue clarity of the approaching twilight.