Monday, December 26, 2011

Barcelona, a love story in three posts, Part I

I am in love with Barcelona, and there are several reasons why.
Part of it is that it is the first city I went to in Europe as an adult. Why you ask, Barcelona of all places? Was it is the culture, the art, the architecture, or the beach? No it was simply the fact that the man I loved lived in that city.

I have been to Barcelona a lot of the years, and I think part of the charm of the city is the rather organic way I have learned about it. I have never read a guide book about BCN (as the locals abbriviate it), instead I have simply learned about the city through the eyes of the people who love it and call it home. (I suppose I am learning about Madrid the same way.)

It will always be a city of romance to me. Not only because I once fell more deeply in love there with my husband, but simply walking down the street there is a romance to the buildings.

 Just look at the picture above (click to enlarge). You could spend about 10 minutes simply drinking in the detail work on the lamp post, let alone the buildings behind it.
 The details are everywhere. Details of little faces above windows......
 Statues resting in odd nooks in buildings.
 I tried not to, but as I wandered the city I could not help but to make comparisons between BCN and Madrid.
 BCN is a stunningly beautiful place, full of romance and mystery. It is older then Madrid dating back to  roman settlement. (Note: Madrid is not a very old city...for a capital city in Europe.)
 Barcelona is full of art. So many artist have lived, or live there now. It is a truly inspiring place for artists of all kinds (judging by the art, and crafts I saw for sale there).
 BCN has it all: The weather, the mountains, and the beach. As the capital city of Catalonia BCN (and by extension, Catalonia) is also rich with it's own language and culture. I love all of this about the city.
I did not take many pictures this trip, but I did take a series of photos down the beautiful Las Ramblas. Which will be in this and in the next post for you.

Most of this trip was about family, and spending my first Christmas with my in-laws.

 These are part of Catalonian heritage, giant puppets that are mounted on a frame to fit on an adults shoulders (the person would be hidden by the lower part of the costume). Brought out on holidays these figures dance and spin around revelers.
Christmas camels are big in Spain. (I love the smug look on this one's face). Spain has historically concentrated holiday celebrations on the 12th night of Christmas (January 6th) when the three kings arrived bringing presents. 

I am not sure I could ever live Barcelona for the same reasons I love it. The mountains, the beach, and a river effectively create a natural barrier around Barcelona, making it very crowded city. The culture of the Catalonians is long and rich, and I look forwarded to learning even more about their history and their language. However, right now I am trying to master my second language (Spanish) and do not have anymore room to process another language.

Madrid is more spread out and even though there is more people that live there, they are less condensed (kind of like the difference between LA and NYC). There is also a comfort to know that most people in Madrid are speaking Spanish and not Catalonian. The cadences, and indeed many of the words, are the same in both languages and it can sometimes take some time to figure out what language a person is speaking.

In short, going to Barcelona is wonderful, but I am glad that I live in Madrid.

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