Barcelona, 2024

To celebrate their birthdays last March, Hannah and Amol concocted a trip to Spain with our friends. Suprisingly, this was my first time in the country, and it was a great excuse (and impeccable timing) to reconnect with this crew. We started out in Barcelona and continued on to San Sebastian. This is the first of two posts about the trip. You can find part two here.

We stayed in L’Eixample, near Passeig de Gràcia. I woke up early the first day and went for a walk around the neighborhood by myself.

Pretty gothic spires pop into view as you walk around the city. This contrast of old and new is one of favorite things about European cities.

Compose and wait.

The people were super friendly, and generally surprised that I wanted to take their picture, and that I spoke Spanish.

We saw lots of kids playing in the street, seemingly by themselves, which is an interesting contrast to US city life.

The modernist architecture around L’Eixample is stunning. It’s somewhat unbelievable that most of it was built in the XX century and not before. Hannah repeatedly broke my brain by pointing out our apartment in SF was built in 1900, and so was much older than the built environment around us.

These little green birds reminded me of our trip to Rome.

Parc Güell is full of uniquely strange structures.



Not the Wailing Wall.

The urban landscape outside of the old city and the Eixample is less polished, but still full of character. We did the Rick Steves audio tour, and there was a side comment about how in the 1970s there were lots of thoughtless teardowns. Now there’s a rule giving old buildings heritage status: if a building is more than fifty years old, it’s protected. That means 70s buildings are reaching that threshold and becoming a permanent part of the cityscape, freezing in amber both the good and the bad. Seems like a hard battle to fight.

The bar culture, with crowds sitting out for simple tapas and vermouth daily, makes the city feel alive.

As we walked down from the park, I got separated from the group and ran into these two guys. They were having a discussion about politics, so I asked them about the meaning of the (somewhat blurry) graffiti they were standing in front of. They explained it was the flag of the Catalan independence movement, followed by symbols of communism and feminism, which of course I recognized, and a map of the Catalan Countries, spanning territories beyond Catalonia which some secessionist segments have claimed. We walked together for a bit, and they told me they don’t think the independence movement will ever succeed. I wished we could have had a deeper conversation.

La Sagrada Familia is simply wild. My camera did not really do it justice, and the best photos I got ended up being my iPhone’s wide angle shots pointing straight up. This is not one of them.

Another early morning walk before anyone woke up. This time I walked down Parc Joan Miró down the pedestrian-centric streets.

The vibe at Entrepanes Díaz was great.

I guess not everyone likes to have their photo taken. I wish I had been 10 seconds faster.

Not as clean as the parallel digital shot way above, but we went again to the same plaza and I wanted to experiment in the dark.

Want to see more photos like these? Sign up below: