I stir sleepily from hazy dreams and my barely conscious brain immediately computes that I need coffee. And some form of carbohydrates. Pronto.
We head out into the mid-morning, the sky a sea of white; a lukewarm tinge to the day.
It’s not so busy yet, and we meander steadily into the slipstream of fellow humans ambling lazily half-speed into Saturday.There’s a small crowd of people outside the cathedral and rival guitarists strum soulfully at either side of the plaza.
We head just past it onto the Avinguda, and plop ourselves into outdoor cafe seats with a view of the alabaster spires.
The sunlight creeping through throws a blinding light as it bounces off the bricks, casting an ethereal glow above the bell tower.
Caffeine and carbs consumed, and it’s off up to the Passeig de Graçias.
The amount of people appears to have increased ten-fold as the afternoon has crept in, and so we stride now with purpose to our next destination-some of Gaudí’s finest work.
Antoni Gaudí was the famous Catalan architect responsible for the visionary masterpieces that still define Barcelona today.
Our first stop is Casa Battló which looks to be straight out of a fairytale, it’s gingerbread cottages are iced onto a rippling, bulging façade. The balconies shaped as giant skulls, with empty eye sockets, are peering eerily out to the walkers below.
The scene is entirely juxtaposed from the modern shop fronts that litter the rest of the road.
We head further up the Passeig to the most famous residence on this street designed by Gaudí, La Pedrera.
Commissioned in 1906 by the Pere Milà, it still plays host to residents and businesses on its higher floors.
There’s a mind boggling layout of violently-colour-splashed internal courtyards, with warped curves dominating, and not a flat wall in sight.
A lift takes us up onto the roof where chimneys and ventilation shafts have been smoothly crafted to resemble large helmet-clad warriors. The whole thing reminds me of a giant game of chess- as if I’ve stepped into Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets.
Diagonal facing archways frame the Sagrada Familia on one side of the city, and the bascillicas of the church atop Mount Tibidabo on the other.
Broken champagne bottles and shards of white ceramic tiles create the Gaudí trademark decorative finish.
Down the stairs, and the living apartments disorientate me with their winding corridors that send us in circles. The whole thing is decked out as it might have been in the early 1900’s and has a Parisienne Belle Époque feel.
We exit out of our storybook tale back into the present day, and head to Las Ramblas. We find ourselves in Mercat Sant Josep where the colours and smells overstimulate every single one of my senses.
Wherever I turn there are reds, brilliant greens, freshly caught fish, meats, and an underlying scent of almonds and garlic permeating the air.
We eat squid, Catalan sausage, peppers and artichoke-all of it delicious.
After lunch fatigue sets in, and to stave it off we venture to the top of the city to Gaudí’s park.
Park Güell is beautiful with it’s stone edifices, lush green trees, and Hansel and Gretel houses. we walk a while and then sit-sipping coffee and watching the sunset over the city vista.
We head back to quickly change, then hot-foot it up to Palau Sant Jordi where we have reservations for Cirque de Soleil.
‘Varekai’ is a show I haven’t heard of, and I’m excited as the lights dim and the music kicks in.
It’s a mythical wonderland. Green fireflies dance in the dark, and I’m awed by contortions, with daredevil antics catching my breath.
Icarus falls from the sky, his feathery wings plucked, as Shakespeare’s Puck dances gleefully, mocking him.
The multidimensional staging and costumes even offer a polite nod to Gaudí.
All too soon it’s over and we slink out of the stadium into the night, slightly awestruck, and head back into town to process our amazement over sweet cherry sangria.
Day two comes to a close here in Barça, but it honestly feels like i’ve been in an alternative reality with all we have seen.
The shapes and colours still whirling through my brain, I drift off to sleep…perchance to dream…