random walk tour of Barcelona

September 22: Sometimes I can’t help but think that my days off on these trips could be better planned. It’s nice to wander around the city and not feel like I have to go anywhere, and discover random things like street performers and little vendor stalls full of awesome. But part of the reason I’m doing that is because I didn’t really know what there was to see, and if I had known in advance I might have made bookings to see things I would definitely have wanted to see.

I slept in very late on Saturday, and didn’t end up leaving my room until about 2 pm local time. I had been just on the hairy edge of getting sick… but as it was, I really ended up having only a half a day before leaving Barcelona. So the rest of Saturday passed in a stream of images to my half-conscious mind: rows of kiosks on La Rambla; stately old buildings near the ocean side, which might once have housed local government; the odd curvilinear views of Gaudi’s buildings, none of the insides of which I was able to see (sold out!); a wine-tasting festival near the Arc de Triomf (a brick version of its Parisian namesake); a sail-shaped modern hotel, reaching up in the distance towards the slender crescent moon.

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A salsa band played near Barceloneta, with couples dancing impromptu and girls in gauzy gypsy skirts dancing on their own in the audience. Just down the street from the band, two buskers did cartwheels and other acrobatics, using a hoop of PVC pipe as the rim of a wheel inside which they rolled around the plaza. This was one of the most clever things I had seen the entire trip, and I was transported away from my ambling for a while to watch. (I took photos, though it seemed disrespectful to take video of the moment). I found another oddly transcendental scene near the Maremagnum mall, with Erasure’s “Respect” playing while children jumped up and down on a trampoline, suspended by elastic bungee cord — something just relaxed inside me and all was right with the world for about five minutes.

On the way back to the airport the next day, I started making a list of stuff to go and do next time I happen to be in this town: the cable car to Montju├»c with its park and historic castle, the Museum of Catalonian History, the Basilica, and so on. The “Go TV”, an example of the kind of in-journey advertising I see more and more on airport shuttles these days, pointed out a few more that I’d missed. I didn’t even know there was a Picasso Museum, but now that I know, it too is on the list.

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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