You must know Barcelona like the back of your hand, they say. Hmm…only yesterday, I walked down a narrow street in Gràcia (near where I live) that I’d never walked down before. And then we went to El Clot on an errand, got lost and drove all over Horta, winding up at the Vall d’Hebron hospital.
And even in the places I know too well, there are always new details. I love the ironwork doors of the Eixample when they’re lit up at night from inside, and you are crawling on a bus along Diagonal and revel in the diversity of the designs. When the shops are closed, your attention is drawn upwards to notice details of buildings: you can play at counting stepladders, or butane gas bottles, or bikes on balconies.
When my son Robert was 10, he was bitten by the exploration bug. Guineueta, Canyelles, Via Favència, Sant Genís… The destinations on the city buses breathed exotic adventure, and we Eixample creatures spent many school holiday afternoons catching buses and exploring outlying barrios. The 28 to El Carmel was a real roller coaster ride, labouring up and plunging down steep slopes and careering round bends to reveal fantastic views.
Maybe it’s time to explore once again. After all this time, there are still so many buildings I’ve never visited, strange streets with fascinating names, parks and squares in undiscovered barrios. It’s a challenge to keep up with Barcelona. But the real challenge is to see new details in the streets I have walked along for 35 years.
First published in the Barcelona Metropolitan May 2009 as part of a series looking back over 35 years in Barcelona.