Barcelona. What an incredible city. Once you get past the immense number of visitors with their cameras and their search for paella and sangria – you begin to notice a truth behind the city that is like no other. As it reaches the feet of its surrounding mountains and the buildings touch the toes of its coast, there is nowhere else for it to grow. The architecture subtly displays its magic and creativity while the Sagrada Familia watches over the whole city. Green spaces are placed throughout and as you reach the mountains it dominates and provides much-needed shade and solitude from the activity within the cities streets. The beach overflows with bodies soaking up the sun while the water is always waiting to cool you down after a summers day or wake you up as the sun’s rays gently reach the land. The markets thrive and energetic sellers call out “guapa” as you pass by, purchasing your fuet.
We’ve had a lot of visitors lately. It’s been incredible to see familiar faces and also to meet new friends. Having mum here, followed by ‘made in New Zealand’ friends, was really special. We were able to play tour guides and translators, sometimes at an amateur level as 3 months in a city doesn’t really make you a local. The summer parties began and Barceloneta took to the streets with big bands and dancing groups with firecrackers. We joined them in the streets. We danced to the music as the flags flowed and the party bunting of bright colours indicated the spot that the local big bands would play. Each had its dance, its performance. Then it would move on to the next street. Bars were set up outside and overindulgence was everywhere.
Our little Spanish apartment was full of friends from Prague and Brittany. We ate tapas, drank mojitos and beer, and went to the beach. It was a reunion from the organic gardens of Napier. A life so distant from the streets of Barcelona. There was a lot of joy in reconnecting over the other side of the world.
Then we headed to the south of Spain and almost made it to Benidorm. We’d planned a secret location for mum, so when she saw the time and direction she commented, “I hope it’s not Benidorm”, well known for numerous British who go to resorts there and make their presence known. I looked at the map and was afraid that the location was dangerously close. But it wasn’t Benidorm. It was a small settlement in the hills, almost in the clouds, where we had a panoramic view of the Mediterranean sea and the surrounding coast. It was a surreal setting as the sunset merged the sky and the sea with a rosé coloured horizon. It was the perfect location for a few days of relaxation, good food, and great company.
Coming into July the visitors have slowed down, though the odd Kiwi and Argentinian occupy our living room for a night or two. The heat of summer has begun in full swing. With it comes morning swims and the days that give light until 10 pm. We have cut down on the drinks, tapas, and dancing. But are left with a sense of true gratitude to be spending our days in this little gem of Europe. This city of inspiration.