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Pounding plenty of Spanish pavements.

SPAIN | Wednesday, 25 February 2015 | Views [923] | Comments [1]

Everything is panoramic now that I've found that function on my phone.

Everything is panoramic now that I've found that function on my phone.

Something itched under my armpit. Before I knew it, there was a strange sensation of moisture on my skin. It was sweat, something my body had forgotten how to do. It's not like I had returned to Broome where sweating is as normal, and as necessary as breathing. And it's not like Barcelona is warm enough to make someone sweat without them earning it. In this case, I was wandering aimlessly around the streets in my usual manner, marvelling at the clear blue skies above and completely oblivious to the fact that I still had about 5 layers on.

After 2 weeks of temperatures closer to your average soccer score, 15 degrees felt like a heat wave, or more like it, a heat ripple. Seeing the sun and having a days worth of blue skies was as refreshing as the first beer that accompanied it. Even more so because it was barely past noon and I wasn't planning on having a beer till the evening.

I'd just seen a huge parade come slowly dancing down the street, ornate outfits twirling, drums pounding, asses gyrating and I'm not sure anything was actually being celebrated or whether it was just another Sunday in Barcelona. Enough people were excited by the action to prove it was somewhat unusual. But just as many people paid it no heed like it was usual weekend fare.

 Not many people seemed interested in ass gyrating.

I spent a good portion of the morning walking along the rough path it was salsa'ing along, feeling the sensual rhythm almost dance me along. Almost. My arthritic foot has performed exceedingly well under thestrenuous workload of long daily walks, even with the cessation of tramadol reliance out of fear it's a colonic cement as well. So, well ok, I'm not going to use my foot as an excuse. I just don't have any rhythm, unless I'm at least slightly tipsy. Then I still lack rhythm, but giving zero fucks at least loosens up otherwise unco-ordianted muscles.

So when a lady thrust a flyer into my hand because I didn't know the Spanish word for no (It's 'no'), I was pleasantly surprised to find it was for a brewery, one that was conveniently located just around the corner. Had I have found the parade by any means other than getting ridiculously lost in the first place, I would have just returned to the brewery later. I knew I'd find Portugal before that same spot so I headed into Black Lab brewery ostensibly to steal a glass for my labrador loving sister.

Dogs are allowed in most places, and the BlackLab bar/restarurant was no exception. And there was a gorgeous beagle puppy inside, confirming that they are one of the most common dogs I have seen in Spain, third only to Golden Retrievers and the strange but adorable French Bulldog, an uncommon breed in Australia that looks like a cross between a moth and a wombat. The brewer was lovely, the dry stout 'Black Mirror' was a smokey treat and the girl handing out flyers came in later to hit on me in a sweet and bilingual way that made me wish I knew more Spanish. All that amounted to the place being impressive enough to tell them they should nail more of their stuff down.

 So delicious I could lick the monitor

It would have been my new favourite bar had I not spent that evening in the recently opened outlet of my favourite brewery in the world, Scotlands Brewdog brewery. And before this journal starts to sound like an alcoholics odessey, I had done my budget that morning and realised that beer was going to be a luxurious and infrequent treat. I had always planned to visit the Brewdog Bar ever since I heard it had opened two weeks prior, and I was willing to skip lunch or dinner if it meant being able to taste some of their incredible beers off tap. Being lost near Blacklabs was just the universe telling me that I must skip lunch AND dinner to try some of their beers as well.

 In between the two bars, I had taken in a little bit of the city from my base just north of the more pedestrian orientated part of La Rambla. Barcelona was a strange hybrid of Istanbul and Paris. The 6 odd storey high buildings all contained similar fascades to each other, and to those in Paris (Except for the ones that Gaudi had laid his craziness on) and there were a lot of broad avenues. Some of the broadest I had seen actually, as Barcelona had demolished some possibly important things from the past to make the future easier to navigate. Most of the city was laid out in perfect grid formation with roads so wide as to afford either pedestrian paths or bike paths exclusivity down the middle. Often both.

 Contrasting that were the tightest, rabbit warren of alleyways I had yet come across. And here was the resembalence to Istanbul as the inner city portion of Barcelona had the town planning aesthetics of a broken spirograph. Buildings still extended to their regular 6 or so storey height, but their closeness made the blue sky above redundant. It was such a striking contrast to walk off a broad avenue and into an alleyway that was as long as the avenue had been wide.

Rare to find an empty alleyway

Gaudi is possibly Barcelonas most famous architect and plenty of his masterpieces were spread across the city. I'll leave his opus, the Sagrada Familia for the next journal, largely because I go there tomorrow, but I did wander past a few of his other bizarre works in La Manzana de la Discordia. You may notice I said wander past, rather than visit and explore in its totality. Due to aforementioned budget restraints, and remembering the feeling that the Topkapi Palace and harem in Istanbul had been a waste of good beer money, I chose not to pay the 18.50Euro they were asking for entry into each place.

Barcelonas bizarre architecture would make it the perfect place to visit after stocking up in Amsterdam on space cake, cannibis gob-stoppers and more 'happiness' inducing foods than a Laotian 'happy wedding' (Who's been reading my journals long enough to get that '8 year to the day' link back in 'From deck chair detonation to Dantes dead bum express'?) Given the complete dearth of public toilets, Barcelona is probably best visited straight after Paris. Honestly, I am yet to come across a single public dunny, but am yet to see one person pissing in public so that raises questions I am unable to answer.

Other highlights of my wanderings, (now spanning the following, more sober day) was the Boquiera market, a veritable rainbow of healthy looking foods. Because I am on holiday and more concerned with pampering to impulses than eating well, I walked straight passed all the nutritious goodness and bought myself two of the fattest spring rolls I have ever seen. They were so big I considered calling Guinness book or records but there was no way they would gotten there before I had devoured them, Dutch Herring style. They may have been deep fried, sometime in the last week, but they were jam packed with veggie delights. That was a relief as well because I had just guessed that 'verdura' meant vegetable and bit into it praying a chickens foot didn't end up dangling out of my mouth.

 So many delicious treats

A visit to the Barcelona Cathedral was quite impressive, but probably not due to the intentions of its founders. It offered great views of the city from its roof, and as impressive as it's Neo-Gothic architecture was, it only confirmed my opinion of Christian sacred spaces. The Church is dedicted to Barcelonas patron saint, St. Eulalia who was martyred at age 13 by the Romans. If that wasn't bad enough, the Church is covered in effigies of her various torture and sufferings, and while that is horrific, it makes me hate Romans more than love Jesus.

The darkened interior, punctuated by beautiful stained glass windows still seems morbid and oppresive compared to the opened Calligraphic sketchpad and your 'Arabic grandmothers bathroom tiles' stylings of a mosque. One thing I love that it has in common with all the other old buildings I have had the priviledge of visiting has been the steps, doorways and entries into these ancient spaces. Not what most people would be impressed by, but their degree of wear was evident and remarkable. It was even more impressive when marble entranceways were 3 inches lower in the middle thanks to centuries of the faithfuls footfalls. It is an icredible feeling to know you are walking in the exact same footsteps as what humanity has done for centuries, often millenia.

That is St. Elulia being burnt and crucified.

That is exactly what I wanted from this trip. To breath in the eons of history that Europe has (Of Western culture that is, acknowledging that my hometown of Broome has a much longer indigenious history) while refreshing the love I feel for friends whose period of absence is inversely related to the strength of the love we that share. If only they were all able to see me, and I didn't have to subject them to epic sagas of my ass when I did.

Tags: barcelona, beer, churches, heat, markets, parades, spain



H. Love that Black Lab glass.....will one make it home?? Touched that you would think first of me, then secondly about the beer.....or is that other way around??!!

  Kirsty Taylor Feb 27, 2015 6:50 PM

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