Julie’s Take on a Perfect Day in Barcelona

Or, ‘How Julie hopscotches the brief altogether and rambles off on a total tangent’

A panoramic view of Barcelona from Tibidabo

A panoramic view of Barcelona from Tibidabo

First off, I have to make a confession. Rob invited me to write my version of a perfect Barcelona day many moons ago, and it’s taken me an oddly long time to get my finger out and actually produce it. Yet I love writing, and I love writing about Barcelona, so why the dilatory tactics?

Well, apart from the plangent bawl of “it’s such a perfect day…” (god I hate that song) resounding in my thalamus, I think it’s that I’m struggling with the whole concept of perfection. It’s a concept kindred with fluency. Mention its name out loud and you’ve broken something sacrosanct.

Or maybe I’m over-thinking this. Hmmm. Bear with me here.

I tend to see the best of Barcelona, I’ve noticed, when I’m with other people. When I look back over the last year, highlights always involve some kind of shared experience. It could be workmates down the pub on a Friday night, a party on the beach till 5am or just those fleeting instants that end up shifting all sorts of dubious paradigms. Then, I imagine myself standing up on Tibidabo looking down over the city, viewing the cityscape through a kaleidoscope.

Because Barcelona keeps contradicting itself. Mostly it presents a slick veneer, the big brash cosmopolitan city on the Med. Gaudily garish, cocksure and Catalan. Where you have to swivel your head like an owl at every step, suspect everyone, and one day hope that the performance will pause, just for a minute.

But it’s better when you catch the city on the back foot. Where all its insecurities and prejudices are suspended for a second and you manage to hold its gaze.

Then, the most unexpected things can happen. You can be sitting on a metro train listening to music (ever-wary, ever-nonchalant) when a little girl spontaneously, out of nowhere, climbs up onto your lap, takes an earphone from one of your lobes and smiles up in communion at the sounds of Lana del Rey. The other passengers go from girn to grin. You sense that something’s melting.

Or on your way home, when a teenage boy beckons you close and you initially resist, hackles haughty, anticipating danger. Till you realise all he wants is a hand, literally, up the hill, because his roller skates are not playing fair and today, wench, you’re a winch.

Or your sister comes to visit, and reminds you what it’s like to walk into the Sagrada Família for the first time and actually wince with wonder.

Sagrada Família. Detail of the roof in the nave

Sagrada Família. Detail of the roof in the nave. Gaudi designed the columns to mirror trees and branches

I think my perfect day would be all of this concatenated together. Rosary beads of memories that you can frisk whenever the need arises.”

Julie left her native Scotland for Barcelona in spring 2011, in order to pursue a lifelong dream of achieving fluency in Spanish. She is a copywriter, translator and poet, and blogs at www.guirigirlinbarca.com.

If you’d like to write your BCN Day then please get in touch via the email address at the bottom of the website. I’d love to hear from you. The more we have the better.

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