It was cold. It was wet. It was an atypical affair.
This time last week I found myself in Barcelona, a European summertime hotspot and personally one of my favorite Spanish cities. I had been there a few times in the past; soaking up the welcoming sun, strolling the pedestrian streets filled with performers and artists alike, dragging idly along the miles and miles of inviting beaches decorated with the beautiful people from all over Europe, barhopping with fellow travelers until places started serving breakfast, etc. You know, the typical things one does in a dynamic place such as Barcelona.
This time it was a bit different. This time the sun was perpetually hidden behind blankets of purple and grey clouds, the beaches were as deserted as they probably are on the Gulf Coast, the artists were more concerned with protecting their paintings from the rain rather than creating new ones, and the closest thing I saw to a street performer were the dozens of Moroccan immigrants selling overpriced umbrellas to desperate vacationers. No, this was not the same Barcelona as depicted on post cards and television commercials.
However none of this mattered to me; the external factors took a distant backseat to the real reason I took off work to go to Barcelona on this particular week. The primary purpose of this trip was to rendezvous with my grandparents, Nan and Papaw, for a 2-day stint before they caught a Mediterranean cruise on Wednesday. It was super exciting for me-having the opportunity to meet up with one’s grandparents on the other side of the pond isn’t something that everyone can or will experience-and I was determined to make our 48 hours together special. Besides, they, along with the couple they were with, had never been to Spain.
While the rainy weather deterred us from venturing to the beaches, it did not stop us from hitting several of the cities attractions. We walked down La Rambla-the largest pedestrian street in Barcelona, visited the Sagrada Familia-the still-being-constructed masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi, probably my favorite architect, and even to park Guёll (which Gaudi designed and where he lived).
Also, I was able to avoid the usual diet of Kebobs and street food that I typically have to settle for on a traveler’s budget, and take advantage of the fine dining in a city known for its culinary prowess. I really wanted to introduce to my grandparents and their friends the wonderful food culture that Spain has to offer, which I felt I was able to accomplish on our last night together. It was 5 elderly couples and me, and they basically decided to leave it up to yours truly to find a place to eat. I opted to take them to a tapas bar, where we ate everything from cod fish, bbq’d shrimp, olives, fish salad, calamari, stuffed potatoes and, of course, Spain’s world-famous cured ham. Icing on the cake: we washed it all down with a couple of bottles of red imported from my region. I feel like it was an appropriate ending to a successful and special experience. I hope that Nan and Papaw have a fun and safe cruise. Love you guys.