For those of you who don't know I'm currently in Barcelona at the behest of the Catalonian touristboard on behalf of the fabulous travel writing duo- Becky and Grey of Global Grasshopper (please please check them out on globalgasshopper.com!).
Now it's confession time...
Despite my constant rsnting about anglophone's inability or pure laziness when it comes to learning foreign langauges and my constant belief that it is respectful to other nations to have a fewwords of the vernacular. However, after spending most of my school time Spanish classes daydreaming, I have developed a complete mental block about learning Spanish. A few speedy you tube videos before I left equipped me with the shaky languages skills of a typical tourist. Thing is, we're not typical tourists- we're travel bloggers and the amazing mulit- lingual skills of my counterparts left me feeling well and truly in the shade.
I've had a number of disastrous trips to Spain, ranging from the package Canary Island to the small local village job. On the back of aforementioned disasters, I had developed some preconceiving misconceptions relating generally to Spainish people and friendliness. However- I had never been to Catalonia before (bar a whistlestop Barcelona trip about 10 years ago..the less said..), and Catalonian people are super friendly and helpful. The hotel staff, resturant and even in the local store- everyone wants to make sure you have a good time in their city. And that's the thing- Barcelona is their city. I've never encountered such a collaborative effort by a community- albeit a very large one- to , in many respects, show off their city, proudly. To quote Bear- they like peacocking. And they do it magnificently!
Despite proclaiming to be an openminded traveller, willing to embrace all cultures I have a dirty little secret. Everywhere I visit is metaphorically measured against Paris. I was completely captivated by the city- I loved every cobblestone, every sniff of arrogance and every inch of glamour. J'adore Paris. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: 'Ireland is my country, but Paris is my hometown'. After all that gushing, lets get to the point and my point is this- Barcelona is delicately nipping at those well shod Parisian heels. The city oozes a charm that is not engulfed in the glamour and pretentiousness compared to Parisian charm. Barcelona has attitude. Barcelona has swag. As you stroll down La Ramblas it feels like any moment a party could start, that all it could take is one wildly swinging feather boa or one vibrant beat and the city will erupt into an impromptu mardi gras!
So basically, what I'm saying is- Barcelona and ultimately Catalonia on the whole is untapped resource for me and I've learnt my lesson not to live precariously on predjudiced judgements.
To embrace all things glamour head to Paris, but to embrace life, head to Barcelona!