In the early morning of September 20th my plane landed in Barcelona. Warm air greeted me as I exited the airport and looked for the bus that would take me deep into the city. I arrived at the stop just before it left- the last bus until morning. My ride was free because the driver could not change the crisp 50 euro notes from the atm. The city was dark, shops were closed, people were still asleep in their beds. I don't think anyone was aware of the drama they would awake to.
The sun streamed through the window of Johnny's apartment I walked into the kitchen and he asked me if I had heard what happened? Sometime in-between going to sleep and waking up the Spanish Government raided and arrested 14 Catalonian government officials in response to the upcoming referendum for independence. He showed me the television and had it not been for everything being spoken in Spanish you could have mistook the scene for America. Anger, the look of shock and betrayal of residents by their government. I asked why the Spanish people were upset and Johnny was quick to correct me, now more then ever the Catalonians didn't want to be called Spanish. I was ignorant of all international politics except for Brexit. I had no idea about the deep rift between Catalonians and the rest of Spain.
I had two choices. Johnny asked me if I wanted to go with him and his sisters to the protests. Or I could go and explore the city on my own. I choose the latter. Part of my travels was a purposeful break from the intense focus on American politics generally but American racial politics specifically. Even though you every country, every city, every government has their own issues. So I made my way to La Rambla the famous outdoor pedestrian mall, where a terrorist attack had killed 15 people and injured 100 more in August of 2017. The stalls lining the street were full of tourist the area seemingly bounced back refusing to balk in the face of terror. Restaurants lined the street with artisans making a buck, or in this case euro, like Galileo above. I'm used to seeing street buskers dressed up to attract potential clients but I have to say the outfits I saw while walking down this street were some of the most detailed I had seen.
After I left La Rambla I found a side street that Johnny had recommended for some food. I sunk my teeth into patatas bravas, my favorite Spanish tapas, and some fried chicken. I was drinking my beer and dipping the chicken in a delicious turmeric garlic aioli when I heard something that sounded so familiar yet so foreign at the same time. I looked up and saw a group of 3 men playing the accordion. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what song it was until it got to the chorus. The haunting of Despacito had started and would continue for the rest of my travels in 2017.
Despite being in Barcelona for less than 24 hours I was falling in love with the city. The architecture pictured above was a big draw. While I was living for the nightlife scene in London and the social energy- I wasn't digging the city's aesthetic qualities. I didn't have that issue in Barcelona. When you wander down the large boulevards there's just so much detail to notice. Most of the beauty can be contributed to the work and legacy of Antoni Gaudí who has left his mark on the city with buildings like Casa Batlló pictured 2nd. I was continually blown away by the beauty of the city, every corner there was something new to discover and eat.
As afternoon turned to evening I decided that my photographic exploration would have to be continued the next day. I made my way back to the Raval neighborhood and had a drink at an outdoor beer garden watching as young catalans skated and played soccer in the dwindling light.
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