Words & Photos by Iona Brannon - babushkasoul.wordpress.com
Currently based in Los Angeles, Iona Brannon is mediocre at the ukulele, a sucker for dad jokes and a lover of boba tea.
It was a cheap plane ticket and the George Ezra song, “Barcelona,” that initially drew me in. I knew virtually nothing about the city. I stepped off the plane, and the endless possibilities and alleyways to wander captivated my heart.
Narrow streets were walled in by bright buildings of color and laundry hanging on lines, swaying languidly with the wind. The wind itself was tinged with the salty clues that led me to the sea, just a few blocks down.
Wandering through the cobblestone streets of the gothic quarters, one step would turn into a mile and before I know it, I was walking more than ten miles a day, captivated by the architecture on every corner of the city. It was fascinating and beautiful.
At one point, I heard the distant sound of drums. I felt like the Alice following the White Rabbit in Wonderland as I tried to find the source of the beat. The sound grew as I turned down alleyways until I stumbled out into a wide street only to be confronted by a massive parade of drummers and dancers. Here, the art that was so prevalent and the Spanish culture was clearly exhibited.
Wanting to understand more about that aspect of Spanish culture, my hostel mates and I decided to take salsa lessons at a little bar. We sipped mojitos and followed the music until the night faded to day. I was hooked.
I had thought, optimistically, that perhaps my one year of Spanish in high school might kick in while in Barcelona, but it wasn’t until my second day there that I found out that Barcelonians actually speak Catalan, a language completely separate from Spanish. With this information came recognition of the tension between Catalonia, the region, and the rest of Spain. They were different not only in their language, but in their ethnic background and culture as well.
I found a free walking tour highlighting the different pieces of architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi, a Catalan himself. That was when Barcelona truly came alive for me. Gaudi’s world was fantastical and unhindered by the boundaries of those around him, and though he had walked these streets a century ago, he had created something in Barcelona that extended far beyond his own life.
Stepping into Casa Battlo, a house designed by Gaudi, I felt myself entering into another world. Were those the colors of a dragon’s scales? Were those pillars supposed to look like bones? Was that a window shaped like a tortoise’s back? He created, leaving room for the imagination as well. I was a speechless child by the time I left.
This was just one of his houses.
I visited Barcelona because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a blank page and Barcelona filled itself in. Adventure is not what you want to happen, it is what you leave room to happen. It is creating a blank canvas, ready to be filled. I came to Barcelona with that canvas, and I left with a better understanding of architecture, dance and Catalan culture.
For the dreamer - For the adventurer