Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose


Metros are not famous for their civility. Eyes rarely meet. The only unifying factor seems to be distance. While above ground one might be charmed by a flowing Renoir dress or enraptured by a Viennese delicacy, underground things are rather pedestrian. Not so in Barcelona. During our week there I have never been offered more seats by complete strangers, smiled at by workers coming home from a long shift at work or just felt perfectly at home with a people whose tongue I did not share but whose spirit I admired.

Street musicians play superbly, but then again considering that those licensed to do so have to pass exams, it probably makes sense. The mimes on Las Ramblas are delightful. Park Güell and Casa Batlló are enchanting. The interior of Sagrada Familia is breathtaking.

As you pass from one room to another of the Picasso Museum, each dedicated to particular years of the artist’s life, his experimentation and mastery of different styles will be evident. Clearly he was looking for his own unique style.

I’ve never eaten better food than the tapas in the Santa Caterina Market: grilled/breaded calamari, asparagus tempura with Romesco sauce, marinated/salted anchovies, cod canape topped with Samfaina, crusty bread topped with La Pena sardines.

One late evening, on our way back from tapas, we looked up at the sky above the Barcelona Cathedral, and I swear it was something out of El Greco.

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23 thoughts on “Barcelona

  1. I’ve never been to Spain, but have never found myself their. Your lovely description of it speaks to many of the aspects of Spain I would like to experience.

    However, one part of your story is somewhat suspect. In all my years and in all my travels, never–not once!–have I encountered a mime who was at all ‘delightful.’


  2. That’s because you haven’t seen the mimes in Barcelona…

    Click the link and tell me what you think. Of course, I may have overplayed my adjective.

    We went to Spain last year, and it was the first time I’d been there since my original trip nearly 30 years ago. I’d love to go back again and this time visit southern Spain, which I’ve never seen.


    • I checked out the link, and while I can’t go all “full delight” with you, I must begrudgingly admit that those fellows do not lack for a fair amount of delight.

      I’ve seen some of the statue guys in London, and I quite like them. Until just now, it hadn’t occurred to me that they were mimes. I guess it was the dearth of whimsy and an absence of impish insouciance (the two qualities in a traditional mime which so enrage me) that threw me off.

      The fellow in “The Mask” outfit seems a bit tawdry, although I guess that movie is a classic to somebody. Curiously, hypocrite that I am, I thought the Yul Brenner ‘Westworld’ guy looked cool.


  3. I do think if you were there that the atmosphere would push you from “fair amount” to “full delight.”

    Yes, no doubt some consider The Mask a classic as they do Jerry Lewis a genius. As for me, I would use classic for the screwball comedies of the 30s and early 40s.


  4. Vivid description – makes me want to be there! =D


  5. I feel happy you liked my hometown so much. We are proud of it. Thank you for the visit and the post.


  6. Agree with you about the joys of Barcelona but must add one note of warning–I was robbed by a man on a moving motorcycle while eating at a sidewalk cafe. The skill involved was admirable but was told at the police station that, while Barcelona has very little major crime, it is prime territory for petty thieves–so hang onto your briefcase, camera, pocketbook, coat and hat while enjoying the sights.


  7. Sorry to hear about your being robbed. It’s certainly not what one expects on a holiday.

    Good advice about hanging onto your things. The more crowded the place, the more careful one should be.


  8. Didnt know such metro cities still exist!!


  9. Really happy you had such a great experience in BCN, Tom. It’s a good place to be, with its positives and negatives, not necessarily perfect, but always full of life and colour. :) And BTW, thanks so much for liking my post,


  10. My husband and I rode the metro in Barcelona as our only way to return to our hotel from a huge (company sponsored) costume party up on the hill. We were both dressed in clown costumes – got lots of smiles – felt right at home in the atmosphere of Barcelona


  11. Just left BCN yesterday following seven pleasant days in that fair city. My experiences too very positive — I could disappear there…


  12. I am going to Barecelona in the Spring and this gives me cause to look forward to the trip. Thank you


  13. I’ve been to Barcelona many years ago, but I missed the mimes :). I’ve enjoyed your account.


  14. Suzanne on said:

    I love Barcelona. It has to be one of the most creative cities in the world.


  15. Barcelona – a fabled fantasy of a fabulous city. The architecture magical surreal, the streets a living theater, paella on the Ramblas, winding through the streets of the Barri Gothic, and the ghost of the young Picasso splashing his paints with incredible skill on the walls of the 4 Cats Café. I love Barcelona. Thanks, Tom for your recollections.


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