View of Barcelona from Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

So, we last left off at Platja del Somorrostro, where we spent a good hour just looking at the beach, despite the rising chill in the air. It was nearly 6 in the evening, and the next stop on our adhoc schedule was a visit to the Magic Fountain. As we had an hour or so to spare, we decided to go to a mall near the harbour for a quick bite (and 3 cups of coffee to warm my soul and feet).

Maremagnum Mall

Here’s the thing about Barcelona – it surprised me again and again and again, with the variety of views, each one more stunning than the other. I didn’t expect the harbour to look as beautiful as it did, with cruise ships ready to embark on their journeys, glittering hotels, and water as blue as the sky in the background. There is a cute foot bridge to get to the Maremagnum Mall, bustling with tourists, who often paused unannounced to take a photo of the mall’s interesting exterior design.

Inside, Maremagnum was like any standard European mall. Usual stores, few fast food restaurants, a couple of coffee shops, children running around while their respective adults sighed both in exasperation and relief. We had a quick bite and coffee, and then discussed our options. I was tired, and the extended stay at the beach with bellowing winds was now coming around to collect their dues. I wanted to continue with the day, but also slip under the duvet. We then weighed pros and cons, gave a very serious thought to cabbing it…but then the caffeine kicked in, and we decided to continue as planned. Magic Fountain is was!

We got in the bus, only to realised that it wasn’t going down the route that Google promised. The driver spoke extensively, in Spanish, about something that we did not understand. This was probably it. It wasn’t going the usual route. We turned to Twitter to see what was going on (truly), and learnt that some of the roads have been closed due to protests in the city. Our bus driver then asked all of us to get off as he had to discontinue service.

Fortunately, we weren’t very far from our hotel, and took another bus instead. Maybe the universe wanted us to go home after all. We got off at our station, and then I had a light bulb moment. I thought, “we have unlimited train and bus rides for 72 hours, so why not just get in any bus and see whatever city we can, from within the bus? Like a hop on hop off tour.”

So, we got on another bus, with no particular destination, and noses pressed to the window.

We saw the Arc de Triomf and Casa Batlló, without doing as much as move a finger. If that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is. Even crazier? We ended up at the Magic Fountain! We remembered the name of the station, and when the automated voice announced that it was the next station, N and I looked at each other and smiled from ear to ear. Maybe, this was what the universe wanted after all – that we see more than just the fountain.

Magic Fountain

We got off the bus and started walking towards it. It had gotten considerably cold. We walked by (what I assume) convention centres and exhibition halls. At the end of the street was the fountain, with a gigantic structure in the background.

We had missed the last show, but wanted to see the place anyway. We walked and walked and walked, until we reached the fountain. I was surprised to see an escalator on the way, and wondered why would they place an escalator in the middle of the road? I found out soon enough.

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

As we continued walking towards the structure that seemed to be resting atop a mountain, we realised that we had reached Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia), situated on Montjuïc hill, about 607 ft high. And to reach the top, there were escalators at regular intervals (some of which were not working at the moment).

I had zero interest in climbing all these stairs in front of me, but this trip was not about me, remember? So, we continued our ascend, taking every escalator that worked. And boy was it it worth it!

The view from the top took my breath away. The city laid before us, with mountains in the background. It was spectacular. It was almost 11, yet there were a few people there, soaking in the views and talking in hushed tones. A guy was air boxing in a corner, with his dog circling around him whenever he was summoned. Others took photos, talked, giggled and just seemed happy. I know I was, happy, with a heart so full. I had everything that I wanted, in that moment, and the world was perfect for just that minute. It was here that N and I decided that maybe, one day, we can live here, for at least a couple of years. We had loved everything about Barcelona so far, from people and their warmth to scenic views and their capacity to render me speechless. We could live here, and that view just closed the deal for us. I felt at peace.

Right across from where we sat, but very very very far away, we saw something alight. It was pink and looked like a church. We were intrigued as it was clearly very far from the city, but the glow said something about its popularity. I made a mental note to find out more (or delegate the task to the birthday boy), and eventually started our descend.

Happy Birthday!

It was an uneventful ride back to the hotel. Somewhere between our station and the hotel, clock stroke 12, and Mister’s birthday officially began. We kissed in the middle of the road, I sang a birthday song in a very off-pitch tone, and we cut a muffin from McDonalds in lieu of a birthday cake when we arrived at our hotel. We slept happy.

Nouman Zakir, Shaheen Rajan

Next morning, we woke up and headed down for breakfast. It was our last day in Barcelona, and we had to check out shortly. I think I have finally learnt the art of travelling light, because it took us less than 10 minutes to pack.

Sagrada Família

Our first stop for the day was Sagrada Família – I think we got pressured into visiting it as neither of us were keen on it (we didn’t have time to go in anyway), but it is ranked as the number one attraction in Barcelona, and was barely 2 kilometres away. So, we went.

It was very busy, with queues stretching about a 100 meters. There were sellers on the sidewalks, selling souvenirs and accessories, whereas tourists had taken over the streets and were busy posing. We found a block to sit on and look at the church that was designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi, and has been under construction since 1882.

Then we walked around the block to view it from all angles, checked out souvenir shops, and then  followed our noses all the way to that pink shining castle thing we saw last evening from the National Art Museum of Catalonia.