Transiting in Zurich airport after a lay over from Singapore, my mind wanders back two decades to my last visit to Barcelona.
It’s the smells, sounds and sights that I recall, a faint memory but nonetheless one that gets my adrenalin pumping as we board the plane.
Arriving on a Saturday at 2.00am through customs is never tasteful no matter how easygoing the country is. Alas I’m through and on the other side travelling down the famed Las Ramblas it all comes flashing back- but this time a new, contemporary setting compliments the distinct smell of tobacco and paella.
It’s hard to sleep in Spain. It feels like you could miss out and besides, you know you’ll be enjoying an early afternoon siesta post lunchtime feast.
The morning is sun-filled autumn style. You can sense the long hot summer has just passed. I head to Barceloneta, the beach side of this unique city, truth is I didn’t know it existed the last visit – could have been my youth or lack of internet or both.
What a buzzing mecca of tanned bodies, beach volleyball and sand filled tapas bars with lemon-infused Estrella on tap. I sit and watch as the half nudist beach plays host to many a traveller, locals and musicians all under the watchful eye of the impressive W Hotel which adorns the southern end of the beach.
Directly behind this Bondi style dunes is a warren of old style Barcelona apartments and tapas bars. The contrast from beach to back street culture is remarkable and definitely somewhere I could live for many a year.
Limited Spanish but just enough to get me off the beaten track to a locals hideaway suggested by my Chef friend Pepe, I find myself sitting bar style with complete strangers eating the freshest, lemon, garlic, olive oil infused whole squid that I wash down with a house tempranillo – that tastes like a fine dining sample all for $15, bonus.
Time poor but hugely excited, I catch a friendly cab to my next destination Camp Nou to watch the game-Barcelona play Villarreal, Messi at the helm. Lets face it a trip to Barcelona is not complete without a dash of Messi, he didn’t disappoint.
So much life is going on around every corner, pintxos, tapas, vino, music, fashion, art, architecture, cathedrals, modern style mixed with impressive Gaudi architecture, like no where else in the world.
I attempt to rest for a while in Barcelona’s central city park, the Ciutadela, fatigue has set in, the siesta is eminent. I awake to visit the underground Hammam bathhouse Aire for a dead sea soak and treatment, built in the rocks under the city it’s as peaceful as it is seductive, a must do.
Oh Barca, Barcelona, Barceloneta, you sweet, sweet senorita, until we meet again Buenos Noches……
Words: Kylie Mitchell-Smith