I’ve said it before many times but what makes travelling is the people you meet and the life-long friends you make. Pauli and I met at a hostel in Mumbai, India, in February 2011 and we travelled together for over a month before our paths split. We remained in touch ever since via skype and e-mail but we hadn’t had the chance to meet up since.
(In case you’re wondering about the picture, you can read more here).
That changed a few weeks back when Pauli emailed to say he was heading across to Europe for a holiday and a friend’s wedding. Let me know where you’ll be and when and I’m coming to visit I said!
The ‘where’ turned out to be a city I’d heard so much about but had never visited – Barcelona. In fact, it was my first visit to Spain. Immediately after booking tickets, I checked the football fixtures and my luck was in – Barca were playing at home that weekend. We’ll save that for a separate blog though!
Unsurprisingly, all the stories I had heard are true. Barcelona is a spectacular city with stunning architecture and much to see and do. Pauli lived in the city for two years and along with his former flatmate Brian, played tour guide as they showed me round this beautiful city in gorgeous weather. Brian has been living in Barcelona for 10 years and his incredible knowledge of the history of the city, the area and the region added so much life to the streets and buildings we wandered through.
Aside from simply wandering the streets, there are a ton of things to see in the city and I visited a few: the unique Gaudi inspired Sagrada Familia Church, the crazy and wonderful Park Guell which Gaudi built between 1900 and 1914, the beautiful and intricate Barcelona Cathedral. the bustling Saturday-only Boqueria produce market and finally the Palau de la Musica , one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
But this weekend was more than about seeing the sights. It was about catching up and spending time with Pauli, meeting his friends and exploring his favourite spots in a city he called home for two years.
On my first morning, to be fair it was just about afternoon by the time we made it up, we rolled out of bed and down the street to enjoy a bottle of pink champagne and a delicious sandwich for breakfast at the bustling and jam-packed hole-in-the-bar La Champagneria bar near the Barceloneta Beach metro on Calle Reina Christina. After walking about the city for most of the afternoon, we stopped for Brandy Alexander’s at the art deco cocktail bar Boadas, the oldest of its kind in the city.
And to end off the evening after watching Barcelona win 4-1 at Camp Nou, we melted sugar into our glasses of absinthe at the crumbling, dusty, cobweb-filled and close on 200 year-old bar frequented back in the day by Picasso Hemingway, Bar Marsella (Sant Pau 65). Founded in 1820, this is said to be the city’s first bar and it doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned since it first opened!
Finally, on the Sunday night, a whole bunch of us we went for divine tapas and wine at Jai-Ca, a tiny and busy little restaurant not far from where we were staying. My Spanish is nonexistent but judging by the number of plates that kept arriving, I’d say we ordered the whole menu. It’s certainly easier than having to make decisions!
Before I knew it, we’d been chatting in the kitchen all night and it was time to brave the crazy storm outside and head back home. Pauli my boy: I’m not sure when and where we’ll next meet but I know it’ll be mad good fun and I can’t wait!