Monday, March 26, 2007

Turista

Now that the possibility of leaving Barcelona is growing more and more real, I feel as though I’m coming full circle—making lists of touristy things to do in the time that remains, getting ready to explore the still-unseen parts of the city while I still can. Daily life easily took over the past eleven months; and though I’ve still seen new things now and then, my Barcelona life no longer parallels the route of the Bus Turistic. As a result, however, there are gaps: the Mies Van Der Rohe pavilion, which was just across the street from our old apartment, is still a mystery. Several museums, a handful of must-try restaurants—these remain to be experienced. Until today, I hadn’t even seen the Barcelona Cathedral, with its resident flock of geese.

The Cathedral was at the top of my list, so this afternoon I took myself on a touristy errand between working on a freelance article and going grocery shopping. I’d tried to see the Cathedral last summer, when Mom and Dad were visiting, only to be turned away at the door for wearing a sleeveless shirt; this time, I was amply, purely clad in a winter jacket and scarf. The Cathedral deserved its position as number one on the “must see before leaving” list, both for its beautiful interior, with the lineup of saints’ chapels along either side, and for the geese in the courtyard, who honked and flapped their wings and generally took pleasure in preening and posing for the cameras.

On Saturday night, Andrew and I stopped in at Bar Tomas, which reputedly has the best patatas bravas in the city. Andrew had been once before, but I hadn’t; and the accolades are well deserved. Another one to cross off the list, we told each other, satisfied, as we walked to dinner. Later we discovered that Bar Tomas—among others we thought of—hadn’t even made it on.

When I left New York, I didn’t make a list. There were things I did as a kind of farewell—the MoMA, the Met, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade—but making a “must see before leaving” list seemed, somehow, too final. Seven years in New York and I didn’t come close to seeing everything; a year in Barcelona—ridiculous even to try. Perhaps there’s something to be said for leaving things undone—reasons (as though we needed more) to ensure we come back.

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