Take Paris, excise the snottiness, shove a fistful
of E’s down its throat and an electric cable up its butt and you’ve
got Barcelona. It’s Spain’s biggest city. It grew into its
current incarnation from once having been an industrial boom-town. It
was the breeding ground for Picasso, Dali, Gaudi.
There are down-sides to the place, and let’s get those out
of the way first. The very narrow alleys round the Ramblas are junkie-ridden
and they make their main living -- ahem -- from tourists. You can’t
even get to some of the classic old cafes down there unless you actually
enjoy being robbed at knife point.
Even worse, because the place has become so hip, there are door policies
being operated that I haven’t seen since the mid-Eighties. “You
aren’t dressed right,” the shaven-headed bouncer told
me, very quietly, as he blocked my way. “Well, how should I
be dressed?” I asked him, and he jerks his bald noggin towards
a group of clean-cut, middle-class kids who should have been in bed
(their own) at that hour of the morning. Which was when I realised
that I needed to be wearing a skin some twenty five years newer.
But the ups about the place just keep on going upwards. The broad,
sun-drenched boulevards. The thronged squares. The waterfront. The
sheer bustle and energy. Couples are wrapped around each other everywhere.
You find yourself sitting in a bar, not because you’re thirsty,
but because the bar looks like such a great place to be.
They even have a beach! In the front-middle of the city!
There are terrific museums and galleries as well, I understand. But
frankly, I couldn’t bear to remain off the open streets that
long. It took all my willpower just to go back to my hotel room, however
tired my legs got. I'll do the museums next time? No, probably not.
Museums are full of dead things, and Barcelona is just too alive.
These 'Postcards' were written, on request, for an online mag
that never saw the light of day ... so I thought I'd put them online