1. Their love for reading. Whether its the metro, train, cab or even waiting in line, these people love to read! And I love it. In fact, on the day of our departure from Barcelona, we were running Helter skelter trying to file the VAT and recover our taxes. We stumbled through their sprawling airport and finally landed at the VAT booth. The man behind the counter was deeply immersed in a thick sci-fi fantasy book. He finishes the page, slowly puts in the bookmark and then looks up at us. Yup, he finished the page before he did his job. I adore that.
2. Their pride in the language. Everything is in Spanish. And I mean everything. They don’t care if you don’t speak it. If you’re in Spain, you speak Spanish. Requesting an English menu means accepting your ignorance of being unable to speak the greatest language and will get you some stares.
3. The way they have fun. Their clubs don’t close at 2:30 am. Not 4 am. Not even 5. Yes they close at 6 am! Being used the US or the UAE, I am ready to be snuggled in my blankie and dozing by 2 am. But not the Spanish. If you show up to have fun at 1 am, you’re on your own. Because they come out at 2 and boy do they have fun. No standing in corners trying to look sexy. They just let go. Dancing around, with complete abandon, singing along to English tunes, flawlessly, word for word. They don’t care if you think they look strange or hyper. They only care about having a good time. They don’t want to show off their shoes or bags, or overdone makeup. They just want to be. And I can’t help but admire that.
4. Musicians on the metro. I know its a usual phenomenon for those of you who live in cities with thriving public transport systems. But, for me it was a display of unbridled passion that needed an outlet, regardless of where or how rewarding it was. They walk from cabin to cabin playing away, their instruments well-worn but finely tuned, singing with soul and trying to meet the eye in order to get recognized. Rarely are they acknowledged, but it doesn’t wear them down. Their music supersedes any egoistic demands and they return each day, playing for a crowd that may not see them but can’t help appreciate them.
5. The performers in Puerta del Sol and Las Ramblas. Day in and day out they wear heavy costumes and stand still for hours in order to become part of a colorful ambiance and provide the onlookers with a unique visual experience. For a penny they take a picture with you, each time trying to make it a creative one, so your memory of them remains vivid. I love their passion to put themselves through this solely for the sake of their art and for creating an experience for tourists. I could never imagine myself standing still for hours, weighed down by heavy makeup and costumes for a few Euros a day. Can’t help but admire their dedication.
6. The food. Oh…the food. This will require its own diary entry. I won’t be able to do it justice otherwise.
7. The architecture. It will also get its own entry, but a brief summary of the magic of Spanish architecture is acceptable for now. Home to Gaudi, the strangest, most innovative architect, Barcelona has quite a few Gaudi masterpieces to enjoy. Strange buildings with dream-like shapes can be found at various corners. Going into each of these takes you into the mind of this genius and transports you to the days he spent in his workshop, laboring away over plaster models for the final buildings.
8. Massages in 5 star restaurants. Yup. I am witness to this strange ritual. A professional masseuse works her way between different tables with people enjoying delicious meals as she gives them a mini 10 minute massage. How is that for a great way to enjoy dinner?
9. The weather. Even though it was a cold time when we went, as a freak winter had swept in and dropped the temperature quite a bit, we couldn’t help but enjoy the cool breezes, the feeling of pure air, and the crispness of the atmosphere. People bicycling all around, girls lounging on lush gardens at street corners and kids frolicking in small fountains, as the pigeons perch on various historic figurines, waiting for the next meal.
10. They have it all. The mountains, the beaches, the history and the modernity. What’s not to like?