And this time the wind currents brought me to the beautiful Kingdom of Spain, Barcelona to be specific. Naturally, the first required magical phrase one must learn is “Quisiera copa de cava, por favor”, which was my best friend for the rest of the trip. Of course when you are in a land of the best sparkling wines in the world, you ought to know how to order one! One of my all time favourites is Segura Viudas, believe me when I say, it will change your views on sparkling wine forever.
My cava obsession aside, I spent my time wisely and headed straight to the Sagrada Familia Basilica upon my arrival. Sagrada Familia is an architectural masterpiece, designed by Antoni Gaudi whose presence is strongly felt all around Catalonia, embodying a mixture of medieval and art nouveau styles. My next stop was at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao of modern and contemporary art, designed by Frank Gehry! Frank Gehry is the brilliant mastermind behind our prized possession here in Toronto – the Art Gallery of Ontario. I must say it was very comforting to see familiar shapes and structure pieces across the ocean, somehow everything is always connected. Luckily, I got a chance to see the “L’Art en guerre, France 1938–1947: From Picasso to Dubuffet” exhibit, which featured works that stood in defiance of the political and military atmosphere of the war period. One of the main messages of the exhibit is that it is not enough to simply appreciate work for the sake of appreciation; it must be understood. When art is understood it is immortalized…there is a change of perception, and that change is so important, it is an opportunity to learn through art.
Next I was off to the San Sebastian, a coastal city in Basque Country where I got a chance to paddle board on the Atlantic. Paddle boarding is one of the most fun and hardest activities I have ever tried! If you don’t believe me, I dare you to try it! San Sebastian is absolutely stunning, filled with history, culture and life. After much strenuous exercise I treated myself to some pintxos – a type of snack, consisting of small slices of bread with various toppings (boquerones, cheese, potatoes) supported with a spike, thus the origin of the name of this appetizer. The majority of the dishes featured seafood and were served with a glass of Sangria made from the finest Rioja wine.
And of course no trip goes without a memorable piece of entertainment. For me it was the Flamenco show that derived its essence from old poetry, where each move, each step, each spin told a story. Such a lyrical performance left me breathless. I knew that I did not need to understand the language to understand the story and the emotion that was presented. The singing was a language of its own, a universal language, uniting and binding souls of the past and present. Here is a beautiful Flamenco Performance on the Street I saw passing by!