Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Very Short Introduction to Barcelona

I See Attractive, Stylish Individuals: A Story of Spain

But first, a shout out to Iberia Airlines; although I am the sound opinion that absolutely nothing exists to make a 14 hour flight truly bearable, Iberia did their best. Friendly flight attendents, pleasant in-flight tunes (but more on that later), and quite possibly the best-tasting airline food I have ever experienced. Airline food that happened to be adorably packed alternatively in red faux-ceramic plastic containers and cleverly folded cardboard boxes. (Pictures forth-coming as I know you are breathlessly waiting for the presentation of airline food.)

We landed at Madrid Barajas, an airline that sometimes doubles as a truly ambitious setting for a stage play. I can see this ceiling overlooking a more avant-garde interpretation of A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Maybe Metamorphosis. Clearly something within the sexy mythological subgenre.

The flight to Barcelona was unremarkable except for the strange choices in takeoff and touchdown music. When we took off, I could swear we were being invited to look, if we dare, beyond the inner recesses of the human soul into The Twilight Zone. I would not have been surprised if Rod Sterling himself came on over the P.A. system to introduce himself as our pilot. When we landed, however, the trilling flutes, crashing cymbals and blaring horns section was not much comfort either, perhaps something a little less..sudden would work better. Otherwise, altogether decent.

Barcelona defies a simple explanation. It is as though the call was sent up, for the attractive youth of every nation to descend upon La Rambla and drink their nights away in a tangle of tanned skin through the haze of cigarette smoke. During one of our rambles through the winding streets, Robert and I happened upon a plaza, populated by the aforementioned young and gorgeous in their everyday Vogue best, and remarked that this is where the cool kids must hang out. I do not think there are any other kind of kid here.

Obviously, everything is rather old. We throw ourselves a freaking parade everytime a building hits fifty over in the States, but here, it feels as though every building has lived through, or watched over, several lifetimes and then some. Prime example is, of course, La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that truly strikes the proud and humble alike with the glory of God, as cathedrals are meant to do. I could sit on the floor and stare up at the ceiling for forever. And once I was done with the ceiling, I could spend a weekend on the stained glass and even longer on the impossibly intricate facades, with a blend of neo-Gothic and modern styles that I have never seen interwoven quite like this. It was rather hot and humid today, and after walking to La Sagrada Familia from our accomodations, the self-guided audio tour begin to drag towards the end. Any fatigue or leg aches were banished up reaching the great heights of the bell towers, and carefully winding our way down tightly spiraled staircases, not meant for the faint of heart or sufferers of vertigo.

Our hostel is somewhat dorm-like, with a dash of state penitentiary. Filled with travelers of every nation, but few over 25, we have shared a room with three young men from London, one from Quebec, another for parts undetermined, and now two from somewhere Scandanavian. This is only our second night here, but we are checking out tomorrow in order to hit the beach before taking the overnight train* to Granada. Major design flaw of our room is the fact that our pull-down bunkbeds partially block access to four out of the six lockers available to the occupants of the room. Good news is, we are two of those four. Bad news, that is two people who have to hop over us whenever they want to brush their teeth. The shower floods the bathroom something fierce too.

It is late, and I am done battling this keyboard, so I retire for the night in the anticipation of adding some pictures to this post tomorrow.

*I know hearing the words overnight train ignites the desire in some folks to tell all the horrible stories that happened to a friend of a friend on the overnight trains in Europe, but please, we have heard more than enough. We have like eleventy padlocks and Robert just discovered the rape whistle on his backpack, so I feel like we have a handle on this one.