I don’t even know where to begin. Oh my dear, sweet, lovely Barcelona. What happened there on Thursday is still hard for me to comprehend. And considering this isn’t the first time it’s happened, and has happened in the US, this one hits close to home.
It sounds weird to say that it hits close to home considering it’s a half a world away and on another continent in another country, but Barcelona so deep in my heart, and for whatever naive reason I just thought something like this would never happen there.
How could it? Barcelona always seems like the city lots of folks visiting Europe pass by. London, Paris, Rome, that’s where everyone visits. Barcelona is sort of an afterthought. And why I think that considering Barcelona make a lot of its money from tourism, like I said, I just was naive.
I actually ended in Barcelona “accidentally” in 2009. Had no real idea what I was getting into, did my research, but nothing could have prepared me for my instantaneous affection for this glorious city–the people, the colors, the art, the food, the beach, the weather, the people–it makes me happy inside.
I was addicted, and started reading books about Barcelona, travel books and books by Catalan authors, news feeds, anything to keep up with my beloved city. I’ve visited now eight times, and just love showing off this city to family and friends who have ventured back with me. I cannot get enough of the place, and fantasize about having a little boutique tour company one day where we host trips of folks to Barcelona. Barca R US. With the R backwards, you know! Just beautiful Barcelona. I want everyone to get to taste and see this fantastic little hideaway on the Mediterranean. “Can you also take is to Madrid?” My reply, “uhh no, we just do Barcelona.”
It was one month ago that I was walking up Ramblas with a friend. I don’t spend as much time there any more as it is extremely crowded with tourists but is also a great jumping off point to explore other parts of the city. And as many times as I’ve walked up and down Ramblas, I’ve never given a thought to someone driving a van down the center area where people walk, and shop, and sit and eat. Where Barcelonans work selling their wares, waiting on tourists at tables set up on Ramblas, trying to get tourists to buy whatever little cool cheap toy that makes noise and flies through the air and sucks you in. Never. I mean why would anyone want to do that? I had thought about being in Olympic Stadium during a concert and talking through meet up plans with friends in case something bad happened. But never on Ramblas.
And sadly Ramblas is perfect for these people who do not believe in the freedoms we have. To stroll up and down a wide, tree-lined gorgeous smooth brick walkway while doing some people watching, popping into the souvenir shop for a cheap t-shirt, stopping at the various kiosks to look at flowers, little pets, post cards, Catalan candy, peering down the little twisty, curvy, dark side streets that take you off into another adventure.
Ramblas begins at Placa Catalunya, a large beautiful square that is center for plenty of meet ups as well as a large metro stop, and Cafe Zurich, a nice place to stop and drink a beverage al fresco and watch the world go by. You just literally cross the street from Placa Catalunya and you are on the famous Ramblas. Vehicle traffic is limited to a tiny strip of traffic going in each direction while pedestrians stroll the wide sidewalk. There are not any barriers keeping vehicles from driving down the middle of Ramblas, but I guess everyone thought a high curb was enough.
Ramblas ends at the harbor a little more than a mile from Placa Catalunya. It’s a little different area. Less crowded. Used to be a bit seedy and probably still has a bit of a PR problem, but again, plenty of folks leaving the beach and port areas to stroll back up to a metro stop and get to where they are going. Lots of fun street artists work this area doing their thing whether its break dancing, drawing pictures of tourists, performing magic, or holding a pose for what seems like eternity. Wide and full of trees and people. I cannot comprehend why this would offend anyone. Again, no barriers to prevent tragedy.
It made me feel good to see crowds back on Ramblas on Friday. News reports said after a brief service, it was business as usual. And frankly knowing a little bit about the history of Barcelona and Catalan, this did not surprise me. Something like this incident is horrifically tragic, however nothing new to Barcelona and Catalan, and with their history and spirit, of course it is back to normal.
I think incidents like this put a bit of fear in you. How can they not? But I’m already planning my next trip back to Barcelona to visit friends. Incidents like this help to remind us that in life there are no guarantees, for some life can be short, do not let fear win. Live.
Et veig la propera vegada a Barcelona!