2009 TNT Travel Writign Award entrant

Author: Emma Wagland


We have arrived in Barcelona. From the sky the city is an abundance of mono-coloured concrete architecture, cleverly crafted into rigid blocks. With a combination of no Spanish and, for their part no English, the journey really begins. After a hectic taxi ride through a sleepy city we meet Frederico at the apartment. Some 20 to 30 years older than initially imagined. A short, bow-legged man with a warm friendly smile and again a lot less English than was implied through various emails (the wonders to google translator). All in all we are here. First stop the Markets.

Jet lag hits with some force, so without hesitation we succumb to the temptation of sleep. We wake at 6.00am and rather diffidently decide on a run. Running… perhaps somewhat of a more modern concept of which Barcelonians are yet to be exposed to. Strange looks consume our spectators; however the awkwardness and painstaking upward effort exerted is well worth it. Gaudi’s Parc de Guell  is truly classed as a personal addition to the great wonders of the world. A labyrinth of pure creativity captured eternally in rock and mortar. The symbolic twists and turns of abstraction are artistically finalised with glass tiles and tea sets. I am in love with Gaudi and it is only 7.00 in the morning.

After much daydreaming we make our way slowly down into the depths of the city. The old Roman and Gothic quarters are completely encased by the modern developments. The cobbled stones pave a journey into the past to discover another world. The cathedral bells ring out filling the city streets with music while the pigeons flap fearfully as though they have never heard the sound before. It is time now for another visit to the markets. Twice in one day, how lucky we are. We quietly relax to the sweet tastes of a Rioja red and fresh Iberico jamon. The hustle and bustle associated with peak hour flutters the calmness of the marina and makes its way loudly along La Ramblas far off into the distance.

Sand mistaken for dirt, people asleep on the boardwalk and rubbish incorporated into interesting sculptures on the beach. These are but some of the traits which give the beach of Barcelonetta in winter an unlovable appeal. The wind blows cold and the stenches of the night before become overbearing. With that, we speedily make our way to the Barcelona version of the eye in the sky.

After the initial fears of the possibility of plunging to our deaths quickly subsides the awe takes over. The awe exists towards the total expanse of concrete and utter lack of nature. We have gone to a place where the human race is no longer inferior to Mother Nature. From the castle our kind is placed into perspective, yet from the view a unique sort of beauty arises out of the chaos. We have spent so many years building walls to keep nature out, that now we seem to be paying the price. From up here we are left to wonder…