We walked eastward, toward La Sagrada Familia. “The Sacred Family” Cathedral was and is famous for its impressive height, age, and cultural significance to the Catalonian (and Spanish) culture(s). The streets were bustling with a smorgasbord of business-oriented residents, lightly clad nomads, and eclectic characters of the surrounding areas. The day had only just begun for us but was well under way for the organism that is Barcelona. We, I will admit, did the touristy thing and purchased tickets to see the aforementioned cathedral. The lines were insanely long and arduous, and possibly more varied and interesting than those you might see at Disney World. The structure itself was gigantic, like a desert monolith, firmly set in the center of an international city. Just seeing it from the outside, if you could drown out the public chatter and pitching street vendors, was an awe-inducing experience. The air stunk pleasantly of delicious street food, the music changing twice each block. The tourism of that place was peaking, and it was apparent. Yet, there was an oddly sure sense of meaning to that place.
With a quick consultation to the map and a general direction of attack, we made the adult decision to buy ice cream. Like I said, it was HOT. And with those delectable minimart-bought ice cream treats in our stomachs, we continued our walk uphill to Park Güell. Antoni Gaudí, well-known for his most admired (and also very hated) architectural work, is the creator of the Park Güell. This place was an artful maze of tile-laden structures, pillars, towers, and seating, complete with… … more tourists, of course. As breathtaking as it was (and the views of the city from atop were to die for), we began our descent back through Barcelona, wandering for food after about two hours observing Gaudí’s masterpiece.
Walking through yet another new region of the Catalonian capitol pulled a bit of adventurous energy from our tired selves. Walking for who-knows-how-many kilometers had taken its toll, yet the legs will keep moving when the appetite is impossible to ignore. Two or three kilometers later, and with no particular direction in mind, we found a literal whole(s) in the wall which seemed to have a decent pizza selection, tapas, beer, and wine. This is exactly what we were naively hoping for.
A beautiful meal & another tasty drink eventually prompted us to settle the bill and continue on our unknown trajectory. Something in our street-wandering reminded me of the day prior, in which I went solo from Chloe for a long skateboarding session through the city - something I demand of myself just as much of each new city I visit. After skating at MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona) for an hour or so, landing a few manual tricks and meeting a few fellow skaters (all with different countries of origin), I’d decided to push through the city, giving up the temporary experience of skateboarding “grail spot” for the uncertainty of new finds on other city blocks. Skating MACBA, for those that skateboard, was like skating LOVE Park in Philadelphia. People travel from faraway places for the opportunity to roll on that familiar ground. The same we’ve seen in skate videos for decades and the same that have rendered some of the biggest moments in skate history. The international camradery of skateboarders was apparent, and the vibes were good, but I had expected to see more local skateboarders… The local Barcelona skateboarder was definitely the least common of the skaters that I saw, which is what tempted me to venture outward.
These three French travelers and lifelong skateboarders were my new companions for the rest of the day. Each of a different age, each from a different city. One from Carcassonne, one from Bordeaux, and one from Lyon. they were all very friendly and just as excited to roam the city as I was. Already cruising along a picturesque harbor, we continued along the ground of large slab tiles. We constantly found obstacles to skate that seemed directly pulled from a skatepark of our dreams, sometimes being kicked out but more often being oogled at by tourists of all types.
Albeit a bit awkward to be at the center of attention, it became a lot of fun. Despite the circus-like feeling of a performance, the routine became as entertaining for us as I imagine it was for them. One particular “spot” inspired us to record our tricks. What can I say, the Instagram culture fueled us to document our moves for posting so that our friends back home could see, and it all went very well. Feeling as alive as ever, we pushed south along the ground of Barceloneta toward the beach…
- 7Ply Epic