Today was a perfect Barcelona winter day – crisp, deep blue sky and warm enough to sit outside – but not quite warm enough to eat lunch outside at Agua, our favourite beachside restaurant. So we got the next best thing – an inside table with a sea view.
The day started with my 7.15am alarm call – there was Spanish homework to do before my lesson with Marisa – our wonderful teacher. She is clever, wise and interesting, with a curious take on life growing up under Franco. So simple she said – if you didn’t have political ideas! Well yes, up to a point I suppose but what she meant was that if you didn’t know you were living in a country without democracy you didn’t necessarily know what you were missing.
I can manage a sort of Spanish conversation now and I understand much more than I can say -but compared with the three or four words I knew when we arrived in August, my brain is a treasure trove of them – “muchas palabras” as Marisa would say and when you’re learning a new language, every word is precious.
After two hours with Marisa I set off on the metro armed with my copy of Robert Hughes’ “Barcelona, the Great Enchantress” to meet up with Richard, Pauline, Rebecca and Ben on the beach. You could spend many happy hours travelling round the city reading this book. It brings Barcelona alive like no other and reminds me constantly why I love this city so much. It has a kind of fierce humanity about it which always feels a bit raw round the edges too. Hard to explain but very Catalan!
This is what he quotes from one of Catalunya’s most famous political dictums – “ We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws – but if not, not.” Simple, eh?
Lunch at Agua was delicious as always and the light on the sea especially lovely – I like this time of year here because there is less haze, the horizon is sharper and the palm trees even more clearly outlined.
Then off in two taxis to the Picasso Museum to marvel – there’s a wonderful exhibition of his drawings and illustrations and it was lovely to be there with Pauline who managed to look at most of them.
Then spent two happy hours wandering round the back streets of the old city and came across a street full of antique shops and a cake shop on the corner where candles were lit - on towards the Cathedral Square where the Christmas Market was in full swing and people were dancing in one corner of the square. Walked up towards Plaza Catalunya as the sun was setting, got on the metro again with Robert Hughes and got out as the moon came up in a perfectly clear deep blue black sky.
Now it’s off to dinner at our favourite restaurant, Cinc Sentits. Being a person who worries constantly about everything there are few days when I feel perfectly happy. But this is one of them.