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"An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth." -- Bonnie Friedman
|Episode 20: Barcelona--Just Can't Get Enough|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 09:17 PST
|cherie writes: April 2000|
It has finally occurred to me why everyone in Barcelona smokes. It's the Picasso Museum. After seeing 300 of his most erotic works of art, you really need a cigarette.
Barcelona is a magnificent city that resonates in your soul (which explains why we are still here.) You mindlessly turn your head and say "Is that a castle?" The city straddles centuries of history in a labyrinth of gothic architecture; splintered light beams falling on the fractured streets below. The certainty of stone verses the uncertainty of modern art. Gaudi (famous dead architect) has created a surreal fairy-tale where broken glass and mortar transform walls into art. The buildings are so dazzling, they make you dizzy. The city is littered with his bizarre modern structures and sickening spirals, causing one to contemplate the ironic strength of curved architecture.
Barcelona is a place where painters are inspired, architects are drooling, and lovers are kissing passionately on every street corner--public eruptions of suppressed emotion. Here, we've seen 1000 year-old monasteries, visited 500 year-old cathedrals, walked down 250 year-old streets to our 168 year-old hotel to meet 22 year-old men.
Speaking of Jason (22), he was as sweet as the chocolate croissants he brought us for breakfast. He was our very own bilingual talking teddy-bear, that when you squished his tummy, he chirped out Spanish words like a native.
Next meet Eric, a laconic ex-underwear model who in his spare time enjoys museums, card tricks, and bailing us out of jail. Favorite Eric quote: "Why do I get involved?"
Enter Rob, fashionable computer guy (and we all know how rare those are) who in a bind will settle for a lolli-pop in lieu of a souffle. Rob and Jean were at a pub in London when they decided to hop a spontaneous flight to Barcelona. This lack of notice gave us a curious puzzle to solve: 5 people, 3 twin beds, 1 room and no bathroom. The hotel dilemma may have been the impetus for our all-night dancing spree ending at 10:30 in the morning. (Or, it may have been the beer? Or, the fact that we didn't have money for a cab home?)
In the end, the only thing that made me want to stop dancing was my Spanish bathroom experience. You see, the light in the bathroom was on a timer, so it turned off automatically. It was precisely engineered to shut off while I was in a half-squat in mid-stream. As I groped in the darkness for the toilet-paper I would never find, I stuck my hands in places where I discovered things better left hidden. Time to go!
Quest for Warmth: Herve (Kristi's friend) casually mentioned two words that we always like to hear together "beach" and "house". It turns out that he had an ocean-front flat an hour outside of Barcelona that we could stay at. The next day we took a taxi, to a train, to a bus, to a taxi, to Herve's condo. This turned a one hour trip into a four hour trek. Kristi and I have mastered the art of finding the most difficult and expensive routes from one place to another. Now we just needed the keys.
We went to the tattoo parlor next door and the guy must have thought Kristi was a sinner because he said "Go find Jesus." According to him, Jesus could be found at any one of the local bars. Kristi may want to consider a career as an evangelist, since she was a natural at shouting "Jesus" in the tiny pubs of Playa d'Aro. A few minutes later we met Jesus, the slurry drunk. This was also about the same time we realized why the town seemed to be deserted: it was freezing-cold. Nevertheless, this sleepy little beach town gave Kristi and I a few languid days to rest and embrace our new spirituality. We began our prayers to the electric heater (please work...please work....) We didn't want to have to activate Plan B--spending the night huddled around the hair-dryer.
Returning to Barcelona, we dined at our favorite restaurant the "World Famous" "Los Caracoles" (I know, I never heard of it either.) The restaurant boasted of previous visitors including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Bon Jovi. The food left a smile on my face as grand as when I heard Bon Jovi mentioned in the same sentence as Picasso.
Enter Alston, a polite southern girl whose art drew her to Italy. (art, drew...ha,ha) She had an elegant beauty and when you glance at her from afar, she appears to be a delicate porcelain doll, one you might enclose in a glass case. Our "girls' night out" led us to meet "626" or "seis-venti-seis" who proclaimed himself to be a bull-fighter. As he walked away to buy us champagne, we couldn't help but look at his butt, to assess the accuracy of his claim. (Everyone knows bull-fighters have tight butts, running from the bulls and all.) He was definitely matador material. Too bad it turned out that the bull-fighter was full of bullshit. He was a flute player, an occupation easily confused with fighting bulls. (Can you believe that someone we met in a bar lied about their job?)
On the Road Again: We must have looked silly as our friends watched us ride our exploding suit-cases. They finally closed under the pressure of three bouncing bodies. We smiled with the temperate glow of exhaustion. Then, we sighed. It was the sadness of leaving mixed with the excitement of going.
As we arrived at the airport, I thought of the top two things we embraced from Spain: the coffee and the kilogram. One perked up our spirits, and the other perked up our self-esteem. (I only weigh 58 kilos!)
I requested an exit row (not for the leg room), but because I wanted to be near the exit when the plane crashed. Next destination: Portugal. (I hope!)
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