While travelling, you get to know not only countries, cities, cultures, other people but also you get to know yourself in the completeness, which is not accessible in any other way.
Beautiful Barcelona, how much time has passed since the first time I desired to jump into your narrow streets and wide boulevards scattered all over your body, intertwined with each other in endless threads of kilometres. How many years? Six, seven? I remember that because of you I have learnt Spanish, listened to all the Catalan music and even to Porto – my beloved Porto – I moved because of you. I thought I would not stay here. But things did not turn out so quickly, and our meeting was postponed for several years.
Discover more in To us (Catalonia)
Do you remember when I wrote about you? As if we were already acquainted, sitting and drinking wine together, talking about the most important things. Even now, already knowing you, I, probably, wouldn’t be able to write better, more truthfully, more realistically. It was a strange wonderful impulse, which mentally carried me to you, and has remained as a part of my soul.
We met one hot day in August in the middle of the myriad crowds of tourists scurrying here and there in order to see and capture as many of your sights as possible. Do you feel yourself as a star of this show, tired, but glittering in the flash of paparazzi cameras or a hunted animal at gunpoint of photoguns of these scampish hunters?
The first thing that impressed me was how bright and spacious you are. Your wide boulevards, tall buildings resembling Cuba and facades in French Art Deco; large-scale, fascinating with their forms buildings of famous Gaudi, a true genius, who undoubtedly was in love with you, like many other outstanding personalities: Dali, Miró, Picasso. How many more people have you inspired for the madnesses that we now have the honour to contemplate on your canvases and that have no equal among all the works of art on the earth?
How many of them have you ruined, left for yourself, like trophies won without bloodshed, forced to remain forever in your palaces, at your mercy? Or maybe they did not want to leave…
You are open to everyone who comes to visit you. You win the hearts with hospitality. You lure with the magnificent architecture for every taste. All starts somewhere in the centre, on Passeig de Gràcia or Plaça de Catalunya, there, with many tourists, where famous Casa Batlló and Casa Milà houses, the best shops and huge shopping centres are situated. You lead through the Arc de Triomphe to the Gothic Quarter with its thematic buildings and cathedrals, you show the wonderful work of Picasso at the Museu Picasso de Barcelona on the way, and at the same time make to spend a lot of money on postcards and souvenirs in countless tents of this rubbish. At the next stage, you kindly invite a starving guest for the best paella in the city, give the finest Rioja and let him enjoy the music of the night city.
The next day he, like a faithful dog, runs after you to the Plaza de España to admire the greatness of the Venetian towers, check the Magician Fountain on his way and, finally, climbing the Montjuic mountain, get to the National Palace. Here, at the top, you appear in all its glory at the feet of a tired but happy traveler. Finally, he can look at you from the top, feel the odds on his side. But this is only an illusion of power: you give it when you want. And the next moment your hero falls off the pedestal and rushes to the Mediterranean Sea to the beach of Barceloneta, where he enjoys a cool evening breeze and a dinner of fresh seafood and white wine. As a generous hostess, you do not skimp on food and entertainment, revealing the mystery, but not putting all the cards on the table. Every smell and sound causes a pleasant feeling of understatement, and here your guest becomes addicted to the game. He is only a puppet in your streets-hands that performs every your whim.
Somewhere in the depths of the clouded mind, he probably understands everything, but the next morning he runs to see the holy of holies – La Sagrada Familia. Inside he is breathtaking and all that remains for the traveler is to lift his head up, look at the sparkling mosaic and towering columns and photograph the fantastic building.
As if that is not enough, you drag a stunned guest to Park Güell to show another masterpiece of your eternal captive Gaudi. After looking at the fairy tale houses of mosaic animals, one of which is the icon of the Park, the famous salamander, he wants only one thing: to take these images within himself, to become a part of them.
And when on the last evening before departure he will be eating jamón and all sorts of tapas from your lovely insidious hands, you will retreat, once again turn into that modest, charming Barcelona, who shyly smiles at her new friend. And he obediently believes without even knowing that her game is far from being a début, that he is not the first and not the only one you indulged. He will leave in full awareness that a part of his soul will forever remain in the labyrinth of your narrow streets.