After walking the Camino Portugués, I flew from Santiago de Compostella to Barcelona where I spent a fantastic few days with a good friend, Xavi, that I met in Hampi in India a few years back. And after walking for such a long time, it was good to be in a city where walking is one of the best ways to get around (and never stop walking!)
Barcelona is an extraordinarily cultured and sophisticated city which makes it feel a lot bigger than it is. It is a city that values design and architecture and also good food and a lifestyle that centres upon eating tapas with friends, long lunches, and dinners late in the evening (sometimes at around midnight).
Barcelona is a tastefully modern city but also has a large Medieval Gothic quarter centred on the long street La Rambles. And I wonder why many Asian cities have ditched so much of their enormous cultural heritage in the name of suffocating and dehumanising, try-hard Modernist applications of what some call progress (like how many 100 story buildings full of administrators does the world need, like where is the cheese)? Civilisation is based on what is kept as much as what is thrown away, and many cities are built on one huge pile of consumerist rubble that grows bigger by the day.
I had a conversation around this topic (or something like it) sitting on the roof of Xavi’s apartment eating Argentinean beef at a midnight barbecue. Whilst many Europeans worry about keeping too much, many other cities have nothing to keep except a grand history of consumerism (but geeze, Barcelona does have some shite high street fashion labels, like Desigual).