Tuesday, June 05, 2007

a living work of art.

hola from barcelona!
delaney and I returned to delhi from nepal and, two days later, flew to spain via london. we were awake for longer than 24 hours and by the time we collapsed in our hostel room in barcelona, we were too tired to care that we had just landed in what must be one of the world's most charming, vibrant and energizing cities.

barcelona may be the real city that never sleeps. bar-goers and clubhoppers don't even bother to leave the house until well after midnight. far into the wee hours, the sound of happy revelers drifts up the narrow alleyways, over wrought-iron railings, and into the floor-to-ceiling french doors that fill the barri gotic, or gothic quarter. if you're not one of the 24-hour party people, you would do well to invest in a pair of earplugs.

many know barcelona as the city that housed and nurtured such independent artistic thinkers as the famed architect antoni gaudi and the painters joan miro and pablo picasso. there are museums and parks dedicated to their works everywhere. we concentrated our few days on gaudi, visiting his la pedrera / casa mila, sagrada familia, and park guell. we were not disappointed. gaudi used colorful mosaic tiles to cover many of his unconventional works to great effect. his art is like a box of crayons dancing to polka music.

all too soon, it was off to one of the few countries delaney did not visit on his monster trip to europe last year -- italy. he had (very thoughtfully) saved italy for a time when he could visit it with some special gal. luckily for me, I was the special gal he had in mind.

cinque terre is a national park comprised of five tiny villages on the ligurian coast, also known as the italian riviera. it has also recently been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. the villages are connected by a train line and by footpaths, as well as a ferry system, and that is about where I stop talking about it and start putting in some photos. keep in mind that even these pics cannot do the place justice. it's truly like stepping into a fairy tale. we hiked, drank gallons of cheap red wine, ate our own weight in pizza and gelato, watched a marble-carving competition, and strolled the narrow alleyways filled with potted flowers, sleeping cats and old women carrying baguettes.

delaney left last night for a month in south america. he hopes to do some trekking in chile and bolivia before heading to hawaii to see my family and to be in a friend's wedding. I'm going to be in europe until september or until the money runs out, whichever comes first. in order to save cash, I've signed up to WWOOF (www.WWOOF.org) and to couchsurf (www.couchsurfing.com). we shall see how that turns out.

tomorrow morning I head to pamplona and then to roncesvalles on the french-spanish border to start walking the camino de santiago. I have chosen roncesvalles as my starting point, which means a 720-kilometer hike. if I average 20 to 25 kilometers a day, I hope to complete the route in a month. this morning I received my walking shoes sent by my sister via poste restante, bought a bus ticket to pamplona, pared down my pack to a few changes of clothing, camera, water bottles, toiletries and medicine, and shipped all my nonessential gear and clothing ahead of me to santiago de compostela. there's no turning back now!

much love and tapas from barcelona,