Making the most of a long weekend, the kids and I headed to Barcelona for a bit of exploring. Traveling with two teens meant that most churches, museums, and tourist sites were off the to-do list. Instead, we spent time strolling though the neighborhoods, searching for good food, and absorbing the sunshine. I am not sure what came first, the sun-drenched colors of Barcelona inspiring Gaudi, or Gaudi and his imagination spurring on the explosion of colors in Barcelona, but one thing is for sure, Barcelona is vibrant in color and spirit. From the markets to the mosaics, everything is alive. Our favorite area was the Gothic Quarter, where you could find blue haired old ladies along side tattooed skateboarders. We managed to eat our way through the neighborhood, indulging on Churros y Chocolate, grilled ham sandwiches, and Venezuelan arapas. Each narrow passage brought another hip store or a new eating possibility. My only regret was I couldn’t eat more!
Here are a few places we tried and I highly recommend:
Churros: Xurreria Dels Banys Nous; Carrer dels Banys Nous 8, Barcelona
Arepas: La Taguara Areperia; Carrer del Rec, 10, 08003 Barcelona
Sandwiches: Conesa; Barri Gòtic, Llibreteria 1(Plaça Sant Jaume) , 08002 BARCELONA
For some, visiting Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny is a bucket-list/must do item. For me, it was on the secondary to do list, something that I knew I would eventually do, but never set aside the time to actually do it. Luckily, this past weekend, an American holiday collided with some visitors who were interested in making the trip, so off we trekked to Giverny on a cold and grey October morning. The fall gardens are a sight to behold. The dahlias, impatiens, and begonias were in full bloom. Leaves were turning a bright autumnal red. I saw one lone rose clinging for dear life to a trellis. The brisk air, dying summer flowers, and changing foliage created a cyclical ambiance that reminded me of the passage of time and left me feeling introspective. I can only imagine what the garden is like in the blush of spring or full-on summer when vibrancy and life must overwhelm everything.
At first what struck me the most were the throngs of tourists (myself included) photographing every flower, every viewpoint, every minute detail possible. I found myself annoyed – how could any of us hope to capture what he saw, mush less try to recreate it in a photograph?? Although I wish I could say my pictures speak to the beauty of the place, honestly they don’t. And then it dawned on me, we (or at least I) was trying to capture some of the inspiration Monet felt as he looked over his garden, season after season for 40 years. We all wanted to get just a little bit closer to genius, if only to capture it for a moment. And that seemed like a noble attempt, to love and appreciate what he saw, and take home just a little reminder of this great Impressionist. In the end, what I truly longed for was the chance to sit in the canary yellow dining room and share a coffee with Monet and be a part of his life for just an hour or two.