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  • Payal Nayar

I will be back, Barcelona...

Barcelona beckons me every few months and I get compelled to go there. This time was not any different. I spent a whole glorious month towards the end of 2021 and as always was very reluctant to leave.

The years I lived in Barcelona, I would always travel out in December so this time around decided to enjoy the festive season of Navidad in Spain. Despite yet another unfortunate twist in the pandemic tale the people of Barcelona decided to celebrate like they are used to and divert their minds from the madness that we have been experiencing for the past three years. I joined in the festivities but of course in a responsible way.

What stood out for me on this trip was the absolutely brilliant blue skies and glorious sunshine with barely any pollution so I was breathing fresh air despite the traffic. A number of arterial streets are now being pedestrianized as well and it’s becoming more of a biking city with well marked bike lanes.

The city was beautifully lit up, in fact most of the streets and not just the main shopping districts had their own lights.

La Pedrera also known as Casa Mila, designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi which is on Passeig de Graćia a very popular shopping street had a fascinating lights display on it. Can’t resist adding a little background to Casa Mila for those reading this not familiar with the architect Antoni Gaudi and his masterpieces. Gaudi designed this gorgeous house for the wealthy Milià family in 1905. It is also referred to as La Pedrera because of the stone like façade and Pedrera means quarry.

The traditional Christmas markets were everywhere and I really enjoyed walking around checking out all the stalls. The largest and most traditional one is opposite the Barcelona cathedral, its known as La Fira de Santa Llucia and I absolutely loved the colours, the variety of Christmassy things being sold there but did not stay on for too long because of the throngs of people around the area.

Moving on to another iconic building, most around the world know Sagrada Familia, another of Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished masterpieces which became a Basilica in 2010 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. I can never tire of looking at it up-close in absolute wonderment. This trip I must have walked past it like dozens of times and of course took lots of photos from every conceivable angle to see if it looked a little more finished than when I saw it on my previous trip. It’s fascinating to see how it’s not just the tourists but also locals flock around the basilica and look at it with equal amazement.

This is the first time I actually became aware of another UNESCO World Heritage site in Barcelona. The architecture in this city literally blows my mind and I can’t every have enough of it. So this site is actually a hospital the brainchild of the modernist Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and is known as Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau. I sadly did not manage to go in because there were limited tickets available on a daily basis but spent enough time outside and gazed at all its splendour.

As the evenings approach there is a sound and light show projected on the façade of the hospital. This apparently happens every year during Christmas and I felt so fortunate to be able to see it and experience it first-hand. It was truly a visual treat.

I walked and walked exploring and discovering little streets, fun spots, talking to people just so I could practice my Spanish and generally soaking in the wonder of Barcelona, a city so close to my heart.

I have literally just scratched the surface of the things I did during the 4 weeks spent in Barcelona but I promise to be back with lots more so stay tuned.

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