Today is Catalunya’s equivalent of Saint Valentine’s Day. It is the day when Sant Jordi (Saint George) killed a dragon to save the princess. It is a day when the tradition is that men give women a rose, and women give man a book.
This year however, we are celebrating Sant Jordi quite differently.
There are no people wandering the streets. There are no roses being sold on every corner. There are no book stalls lining the streets and plazas of Barcelona. But the spirit of Sant Jordi remains in the hearts of the Catalans.
Today we celebrate Sant Jordi, with a love letter to Barcelona…
It’s been 5 weeks now since Spain said ‘STOP’ in its response to COVID-19, and Barcelona closed its doors. Everything stopped as we all moved our lives indoors. It’s been hard.
But if we sit back and take this time to see what is happening in this beautiful city of Barcelona, we see things that we would never have expected. We hear stories of wild pigs walking down Diagonal Avenue the main street intersecting Barcelona’s northern and southern districts, normally bustling with traffic rushing from one side of the city to the other. We hear stories of dolphins returning to the beautiful clear waters of the beach of the Barceloneta, once again full of schools of little fish…
And as we sit here at home on our terrace looking out over the plaza, without the usual groups of screaming children playing happily with their friends, we hear the birds singing! And as it rains here today, we hear the pitter patter of the rain as there are no cars to drown it out.
We see amazing images of the streets of Barcelona at peak hour with hardly a car in sight. And we see images of Barcelona’s most precious and popular tourist attractions, without any tourists.
Barcelona is sleeping. Regenerating. Waiting to be woken up and thrive again.
We will see her differently when she awakens. We will appreciate her more. At least I hope we will: I for one will..
I am looking forward to taking that first beer with friends in the terrace of a local bar, soaking up the midday sun! Going for a walk along the beach and feeling the sand in between my toes. Going for a run along the Carretera de Les Aigües, with panoramic views of Barcelona framed by Montjuic to the south, the blue waters of the Mediteranean Sea to the north, and the Besós river to the North…
I look forward to walking down Paseo de Gracia, drifting in and out of the many boutiques, and continuing on through Plaza Catalunya before heading down La Rambla towards the Port, with a detour into La Boquería to enjoy a ‘caña’ (small beer) and a tapa of freshly made tortilla de patata.
I look forward to seeing some of the most famous works of Gaudi – La Padrera, Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia – lit up at night.
I look forward to enjoying a night out dancing til dawn with friends, and then ending the night with a quick dip in those crystal clear waters of the Barceloneta. And to finish the night, a carajillo de Baileys (espresso coffee with a shot of Baileys) in one of the bars just opening up.
I look forward to all of this. But until then, I’ll stay home. That’s what I can do to help fight the curve. And I’ll head out on the terrace at 8pm and clap to show my gratitude to all of those workers that are out there fighting the fight so that we can one day safely return to work to welcome our guests through the doors of the hostel and share our newly derived appreciation for all that we have.
Keep safe and keep dreaming.