For the past six weeks I have hardly paid any attention to this most unique of cities. In fact at street level Barcelona reminds me of my old home town. I think it’s the scale, and the shops. Barcelona has a far more European feel than any city in the UK and there are none of the chain outlets that disgrace every British high street.
But whenever I look up—that is once I stop running for the traffic lights and am forced to pause—I realise with a sudden jolt that I am somewhere else. Somewhere unique and decidedly Mediterranean. Not that I could tell from the weather. When the sun comes out there is no doubt about it: John says that in the UK we get winter days even in the summer, but in Barcelona we get summer days even in the winter. But, true to form, the sun disappeared once the pressure was off and it takes the odd near-collision with a palm tree to remind myself where I am.
The palm trees give me another jolt every time I see them. The current weather makes this place seem like an odd, twisted version of home—it’s as if I’m walking through a dream.
In an attempt to get to grips with reality—and to realise why I’m hard at work learning Spanish even though I’m speaking English all day at school—I’m going to spend the next week exploring Barcelona. I’m going to walk down the length of Las Ramblas, criss-cross the Barri Gòtic, revisit Park Güell and take a tour around Montjuïc.
Today I started with the university but it was closed and the area was oddly impersonal and devoid of students. I was reminded of melancholic weekends at Oxford. It’s been a while since I’ve contrasted weekends and work days and found the former boring. Maybe it’s time to start writing another novel.
Or to resume blogging.