Imagine yourself…walking through these old streets, the hustle and bustle of a city echoing off the brick walls on either side of you. Conversations in Spanish are everywhere, some heated in tone, some quite friendly, some filled with laughter.
The pedestrian only street that you walk on now empties out into a small plaza. One of many in this central part of Barcelona. The plaza has a couple of Tappas restaurants, their tables outside under large umbrellas. You sit down at one table and relax. Don’t worry, the waiter that pops in and out of the restaurant will get to you eventually. Remember, you’re in Spain. This isn’t Chili’s where the servers are instructed to fly into your face the moment you sit down so the restaurant can get a fast turnover ratio on their tables.
Sitting at the next table over, three young guys are laughing and drinking wine. They talk Spanish but soon you figure out they’re goading one another to get up and talk to some girls sitting next door at the adjacent outdoor restaurant. At another table, a couple enjoys coffee while they each read a book. They somehow shut off all the noise from the plaza. Perhaps they’re too used to doing this day after day.
The waiter comes to your table. When he realizes you don’t speak Spanish, it’s not a big deal. He patiently helps you with the menu and you order that glass of wine you’ve been craving ever since you got off that nine-hour ordeal the airline calls a flight.
A street musician stops near your group of tables to play a few songs for you. Luckily, this one is talented and knows how to play the flute, so you give him a couple of Euros when he comes around for tips. He was much better than the last musician who was off-key on that Lionel Richie song. Maybe he should learn how to play. Picking better material wouldn’t hurt either. Another man tries to sell the couple next to you flowers, even though another flower guy came by their table only five minutes earlier. Your favorite guy was the man selling ridiculously huge sunglasses that had flashing lights inside them. Seriously dude, this is Spain. Not the Las Vegas strip.
The plaza is alive with people. Teen lovers holding each other, just hanging out under the twilight of a day that’s winding down. People crossing the plaza on their bicycles. Some are going home. Others are just going somewhere because they can. Stray dogs meander around. None of them are vicious. They just take in the view and move on to the next place where a stranger might toss them a juicy morsel or even a whole steak. Hey, even stray dogs have dreams.
Your nose breathes in a distinct smell from the streets. Not a bad one. It’s a smell that reminds you of a mixture of spices. Although you can’t pinpoint exactly what they are. But that sent has been on every street that you’ve walked today and its uniqueness has stuck with you, like when you were a kid and first smelled freshly baked bread in the oven.
Your glass of red wine finally arrives and you take a large swig, letting the tangy flavor coat your tongue. And you then convince yourself that you could sit a this small plaza for the rest of your life.
Not all my travel blog entries will be written in this manner, but I wanted to give you a taste of what I was experiencing the first day in Barcelona.
Coming next: The Hotel De Jardi – The best little hotel in Barcelona.