Wednesday, March 28, 2012



It has taken two days to get here. When it comes to travel, New Zealand really is on the other side of the globe! A long journey at the best of times, this one ended up being quite a bit longer. Ten minutes prior to landing in Frankfurt we learned that Lufthansa's ground staff were on strike and as a result all connecting flights with that airline had been cancelled indefinitely. I was fortunate to be offered seats on two Swiss Air flights later than morning - the delay meant 'losing' a day in Barcelona but had I not been re-routed, I might have missed out on Barcelona altogether. 

Always amazed that airports work as well as they do, I was nevertheless not surprised to find that my re-routed suitcase hadn't been able to keep up once my itinerary had been changed. It went missing somewhere between Frankfurt, Zurich and here but will likely turn up before I leave for Ibiza first thing on Friday morning. Meantime, I'm enjoying traveling light, and let me tell you it's a whole lot easier making one's way across a city with a handbag (whose modest stomach holds my travel docs, a hairbrush, pencil, journal, glasses and lippy) and one small, lighter-than-usual piece of hand luggage (containing laptop, camera and a handful of books). I took a bus from the airport to Plaza Catalunya where - a little whelmed from lack of sleep and the excitement of being here - I spent about twelve dilly minutes scampering up and down escalators in a huge family-style department store searching for a replacement toothbrush and t'paste, knickers, plain white singlet and shampoo. . . What more would I need? (And what on earth had I packed into my missing 20 kg suitcase? We make such pack-horses of ourselves, don't we, wandering about with our weight on our backs.)

These pics show the view from the bedroom in the apartment I'm staying in. . . How curious to cross miles of ocean and land to visit an ostensibly foreign place only to discover on arrival that everything has a ring of the familiar about it. Everything. The apartment. The language. The city smells. The stone lions and metal minotaurs. The full-throated, unselfconscious sidewalk conversations. The different timbre of this city's laughter - which makes me wonder. . . Is the colour and texture of our laughter and our tears affected by the language we speak? Does sound inhabits our body in language-tinted ways? (I'm curious to hear what you think?). 

Unashamedly wanton when it comes to weathered surfaces, I love this city's muddle; its brickwork and cracking plaster, expressive wrought-iron balustrades and soft, loaf-shaped roofs (tomorrow, Gaudi will render me speechless, I know it). . . 

And then there's beautiful, gracious Marta - a writer, colour therapist, architect and sacred geometrician - who has welcomed me into her home; complete strangers only till the moment of our meeting. Can lives and lifetimes converge in a split second? Neither of us speaks the other's language and yet last night's conversation could not have held more, nor been any richer. Something's afoot (when is something not, I wonder?). It's the middle of the night and the neighbourhood's asleep. How good it is to see Northern hemisphere stars through my bedroom shutters; they seem plucking distance away. Light sentries of the night, I like to think they are keeping watch, minding their own business, yes - and ours, too - high above the clay-tiles, the Jacob's ladder scaffold of chimneys, television aerials and tilting satellite dishes. 

Right here, right now, I am indescribably happy.


  1. What a glorious introduction to Barcelona. Enjoy your stay. I look forward to hearing more about it.

  2. Sounds like you are in the middle of an adventure - yay you! Eyes open - mind too - and let it happen. :) Go well. God bless.

  3. adventure, yes--and serendipity, the disruption of plans, can be something special if you are open to it, which of course, you are! have fun! there is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant buried deep within the the old city of barcelona, that i once stumbled into, with tables occupied by tall, thin, pale Brits in sensible walking shoes and backpacker young people with Rasta hair. and plates piled high with fresh, simply prepared vegetables and fruits ...should you get the urge to feel really displaced but nourished!

    have fun!

  4. It was Gaudi who drew my mother to Spain; she saved and planned. Now his name is the first word that comes to me when I hear of Spain. And of course it would be the winding path that took you there, blue jeans waving and stars of the northern sky winking. I love reading about your gift for looking at life beyond its inconveniences. Glorious days. xo

  5. Once, long ago, I was stranded in Madrid overnight because I had forgotten my passport in Cadiz where I'd been staying. I checked my bag and then was turned down at the gate when I couldn't produce it. I had to wait for it to be cargo planed up the next morning, so I stayed at a pension in the city. It was a wonderful experience! I think being separated from your baggage, having the unexpected snip the ties between you and your assumed self makes everything feel new. It's like being reborn, and that's how I experienced this beautiful piece. Thanks!

  6. Barcelona is a welcoming city. Enjoy yourself.
    Every now and then, the luggage goes on its own worldly travels.
    Buying clothes in a different country is an exciting experience.

  7. Dearest Claire, only you could find the bright side of delays, lost luggage and sleep deprivation. You, like those Northern hemisphere stars you can see, light up my life in this hemisphere with your 'indescribably happy' blog. I know Gaudi will wow you, as he did me, with his stunning architectural creations. Arohanui, E.

  8. "Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by." ~Carl Sandburg