In retrospect, what I remember most about Barcelona is the morning cafe con leche, croissant, and fresh squeezed orange juice. The best part about the ensemble is just how citrus the juice was and how the coffee came in a small cup. If you'd like to offset the citrus with something sweet, the Spaniards like their croissant filled with chocolate—chocolate melted at the center and melts down your gluttonous little stomach with no regrets. Europeans always seem so serious about their coffee, wine, bread, cheese, and chocolates, and I'm happy to report that they make up my stay at the city. From bikinis (a ham & cheese sandwich) near Park Guell to 11 euro set lunches at the spectacular El Grande, we ate our way across the city, and savored every ham, sausage, cheese, tapa, dessert, coffee and Spanish thrown our way. Every morning we rose with the sanitation trucks beeping and sweeping on the Rambla, and dined late as Barcelonians. Lunch was three in the afternoon, dinner ten at night. If we partied, it would be until six in the morning. While New Yorkers, Hong Kongers, and Tokyonites sped through life on subways and with a plastic coffee cup in hand, the Barcelonians squeezed and stretched every minute until time itself gracefully lengthened.
Take it easy, my midday coffee seemed to remind me. Just do it, my evening coffee whispered. Of course, that wasn't exactly the case as we tore through the city on our feet. Elaborate architecture met and was met again on foot. All of a sudden, life's choices were reduced to whether we should turn left or right to this alley or the next, and the decision making factor would rest solely on the moment of fancy, consequences be damned.
We climbed on top of mountains and visited Roman ruins underneath grand cathedrals. We crossed boulevards and marveled at an elaborate windowsill, only to be stunned by the next balcony. We snaked through charming alleys and stumbled onto seedier immigrant enclaves. We ran across town for an FC Barcelona game. We saw churches that made could atheists cry.
So that was Barcelona, as beautiful as its name, and more radiant in memory.