—We are back in the States, and Gina and I miss Barcelona desperately. It sounds strange but true. Why?
—We miss the atmosphere. The division, anger, and daily mass murder we take for granted in the US are not there. There is a peacefulness, a sense of family, and a zest for life rather than busyness.
—We miss the routine. It is incredible how quickly the body adjusts to a more healthy lifestyle. Sleep late, have a light breakfast, healthy lunch, siesta, vermouth, and a late dinner of tapas, and go to bed after midnight.
—We miss walking. The city is extremely walkable, and the metro is clean, efficient, and inexpensive. Walking rather than driving mindlessly made us feel so much more connected to the environment. We noticed things. We paid attention to small details that brought us joy. And I lost three pounds in two weeks.
—We miss the culture. There is the Opera, parks, plazas, museums, libraries, book stands, street cafes, and stunningly beautiful and creative architecture everywhere one turns.
—We miss the freedom. The Evangelical repression is absent. People on the beaches are nude without shame, and the fashion is sensual and dressy. There are multiple protests daily, but people respect each other’s beliefs and applaud them.
—We miss the history. One night, as I lay in bed in the Gothic quarter, I could feel and glimpse the ghosts of spirits from hundreds or thousands of years ago that slept in this room. This neighborhood (barrio) is also called the Old City or Ciutat Vella. There has been a settlement here since Roman times, known as Barcino. Once hemmed in by medieval walls, taken down in the 19th century, Barcelona’s old city remains a dense network of streets, alleys, and historic buildings.
—We miss the food and drink. The prices are so much lower that it is actually less expensive to eat out. The no-tip culture alone saves 20% for every meal. And the quality and service are excellent, engaging, delicious, and fun. CNN has an article today that asks who has the most top restaurants in the world’s 2023 Top 50 best that was just released. Not Italy, not France—it is Spain. Barcelona is home to the best restaurant, Disfrutar, in Europe (#2 in the world) and home to the #1 bar, Paradiso, in the world.
—We miss the symbology. If you have read my book “The Quest” or followed me here, you know that the mandala is an essential (perhaps the most important) symbol of my life. And the sidewalks are literally paved with mandalas. (See photos).
—We miss the art appreciation. So free, so engaging, so sensual, so celebratory of the body. When Spanish people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m an artist and author. Unlike America, where people shrug and say that’s nice and go on their way—in Spain, they instantly ask, “May I see?” When I show them my favorite watercolors, they are fully engaged and ask penetrating questions about why I chose the subject matter of the nude female. I quickly realized that because of Picasso and Miro’s abstract art, Spaniards were very attracted to my perception and layered yet realistic style. As I showed them to a young waitress who is also an artist in Sitges as we watched dance in the streets, she exclaimed, your style is so distinctive throughout your work. No one, not one person in America, has ever told me that. Gina just kept saying, “I knew it! I knew they would love your art here!!” And I am already looking for a gifted translator who can translate “The Quest” into Spanish.
And so much more. With apologies to San Francisco, we left our hearts in Barcelona. We cannot get back soon enough. We have found our new home, at least for now. We are old enough to know that Barcelona, like any place in the world, is far from perfect. But, it is far more suitable to us than America.