|En la cima de la Rambla|
Legend has it that Hamilcar, the father of Hannibal, the bane of Roman imperial aspirations, and a passable general in his own right, founded Barcelona some 300 years before the commencement of Gregorian history. Barcelona is a beautiful city, on the Mediterranean coast. She was a bastion of Spanish Republicans in that country's tragic civil war, the last city in all of Spain to submit to Franco and the Fascists. Today, she is a city of immense culture, gentle climate, beautiful beaches, and great food!
La Rambla, the pedestrian mall, stretches down from la Plaza Catalunya all the way to the beach, with everything from high-end shops and posh restaurants at the inland terminus, to live sex shows and street drug peddlers at the seaward. A constant flow of people moved up and down.
|Street performer along la Rambla|
The city was teeming with young people out to have a good time. I met a California girl, Maria, and a young woman, Kate (troubled, troubling) from Australia. Together we walked la Rambla. Kate and I ducked into the live sex show out of sheer curiosity, where an attractive couple had dispassionate, mechanical sex in a bed on a stage. Boring really.
|La iglesia del Barri Gótic|
Kate (self-deprecating, funny) and I made our way from the museum to the beach and there parted ways. It was early afternoon and the city was shutting down for daily siesta. I made my way back to the pensione and, adapting quickly to the Spanish rhythm of life, napped.
|Tara and I on la Rambla|
|La Casa Milá by Gaudi|
|La Casa Milá|
|Sagrada familia church|
|Sagrada familia church, closeup|
Together, Tara and I wandered through, climbed to the top, agape. Never had I seen anything like it. Never before, never since.
We looked out on the expanse of Barcelona below us: there the blue of the Mediterranean; there, the arid hills of the hinterland. The sun was kind; the city relaxed amid its bustle.
After la Sagrada familia, we went to Park Güell, also designed by Gaudi for the city he loved. A beautiful park with another breathtaking view. We bought ice cream from a vendor and ate a picnic lunch.
|Sculpture in la Sagrada Familia church|
|Arches in la Casa Milá|
That night, I took Tara to the train station. She was off to Madrid. "I'm very glad to have met you," she said. She said it with kindness and gratitude and a touch of sadness: all of which I understood. One never really travels alone, whether riding the rails through Europe or journeying through life. Never. If there is no living, breathing companion to share the road, then there is loneliness. Loneliness becomes one's companion. Tara set off to her platform; I soon lost sight of her in the meandering crowd. Goodbye, Tara. Fare thee well.
For me, there was one more night in Barcelona, one more meal of paella and orange juice. It was the last day of October. El Día de los Muertes. I savored the gifts that Barcelona had given me.
In the morning, I arose late, sipped fresh, incomparably rich Spanish brewed coffee, then waved goodbye to this city with which I had fallen madly in love. In the afternoon, I caught the train north.
To be continued...
- Pt. I Amsterdam - Arnhem - Copenhagen
- Pt. II Copenhagen - Oslo
- Pt. III Bergen
- Pt. IV Flam fjord - Goteborg
- Pt. V Stockholm - Gavle - Stockholm
- Pt. VI Berlin
- Pt. VII Prague
- Pt. VIII Budapest
- Pt. IX Vienna
- Pt. X Munich
- Pt. XI Salzberg - Innsbruck
- Pt. XII Venice - Florence
- Pt. XIII Siena
- Pt. XIV Rome
- Pt. XV Naples - Pompeii
- Pt. XVI Cinque Terre - Geneva
- Pt. XVII Avignon
- Pt. XVIII Arles
- Pt. XIX Barcelona
- Pt. XX San Sebastian
- Pt. XXI Bordeaux - St. Lo
- Pt. XXII Paris
- Pt. XXIII Brussels - Waterloo
- Pt. XXIV Brugge
- Pt. XXV Amsterdam at last