Barcelona is a hard city to describe in words – its more one that has to be experienced. You have to smell the fresh cut flowers sold on La Rambla; taste the sweet and rich chocolate below Gaudi’s Casa Calvet, and the intense saltiness of the Mediterranean waters; feel the fluidity and power from the refreshing sea as it washes over you; hear the joyous laughter, the upbeat street music, even the traffic noise; and open your eyes to see all the unique creativity Barcelona offers. All senses are constantly activated here. Barcelona is a celebration of individual imagination. This city with a treasured collection of Gaudi’s work embraces and encourages originality.
People living in this city aren’t constantly plugged in; on the metro and in the streets you hardly see people glued to their phones. Instead, they use their energy to be active – the city is alive – the buildings are alive and full of color. Passing under the deep red brick Arc de Triomf to reach the Parc de la Cintadella we were swept along a plaza in constant motion. People zoomed past with ease on roller blades and skateboards; kids danced for cheering onlookers, little children imitated break dancers, groups of friends popped out from hiding to surprise their unsuspecting friends, all to the casual vibe of happiness.
Here – Gaudi’s work is celebrated, in all its undulating, colorful, imaginative glory. Crowds gather in front of the beautiful blue, green, and purple façade of the Casa Batllo to sketch and try to envision and theorize what his inspiration was. Beauty is everywhere you look. Barcelona reminds you to look up and appreciate your surroundings – if you don’t, you will easily miss inspirational creations. As I said, it's a hard city to put into words, but it is teaching me so much about appreciating design and celebrating unique points of view.
In a gift shop I picked up a book titled “How to Be An Explorer of the World” by Keri Smith and the first page I flipped to read “Artists and scientists analyze the world around them in surprisingly similar ways.” The back cover read, “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.” It was a serendipitous moment because those words summarized exactly what I’ve learned from this trip. Barcelona encourages the blend between designing, calculating, and constructing and they have come together to create a stunningly beautiful and uplifting city.