Monday, 19 September 2016

Barcelona is

The absence of harsh seasons – an autumn that blends into spring, skimming over the cruel temperatures that characterise typical winter months. A place where twenty-five-degree weather is jacket weather, where the slightest embrace of a breeze merits a woollen scarf.

Restaurants that boast a variety of tapas, each waiter competing to lure you into theirs for lunches that seep into late afternoons and dinners that begin after the moon has risen. Markets scattered around neighbourhoods, tinted with a vibrancy that no camera can attempt to capture. Fruit fresher than folded laundry: crimson tomatoes with a look that almost beats their taste. Almost.

Architecture the rest of Europe should envy, buildings stained with colour on the outside and history on the inside. Gaudi tattooed himself over every brick, his portrait still visible in the mosaic tiles, if one knows how to look. Concrete streets flow like rivers to the Mediterranean shore – beaches that gift views of the mountains, those just a short drive away. Not only the best of both worlds, but the best of all three.

The perpetual echo of multiple languages, a foreground shared by Spanish and Catalan, but a background that’ll make any nationality feel welcome. Areas that seduce tourists neighbour those that house locals, a labyrinth one can weave their way in and out of.

Sunday morning cyclists and dog-walkers, kids kicking footballs as hard as they dream to meet the players that inspired them to do so. You don’t have to watch the Barça matches to know when there’s a home goal – the neighbourhood erupts in a collective cheer.

Holidays of human towers, giant puppets, fire-breathing dragons, and streets littered with sweets. Lipstick is replaced with wine; perfume lost in a lingering cloud of beer. A culture that might not be universal, but constitutes a universe of its own.

Mastering the art of patience, discovering the comfort in waiting rooms and eavesdropping on the conversations of the customers ahead of you to make the delay that little more entertaining.

Club nights that morph into seaside mornings, sun rising higher as feet sink ever deeper into the sand. Not a city that never sleeps (for snores sound through Sundays and post-lunchtime siestas) but one that, when awake, has a heartbeat that vibrates beneath the bricks and tiles.

Friends from countries I’ve never set foot in, born over oceans, with backgrounds opposite to my own. But laughter parallels between cultures. So does love. They’re friends I’m not sure what I did to deserve, those for whom words fail to do justice. You know who you are.

A home away from home. A city that will not only have a permanent place in my heart, but one that has soaked into my skin and coated my lungs in ways that only settings where one has spent their formative years can. 

Thank you for six unbelievable years, Barcelona. I’ll be back.