Walking. Old Town Barcelona.

August, 2006.


Family vacation, using accumulated points for airfare and hotel.

Complimentary breakfasts included chocolate croissants. Buttery flakes melting on tongue, chased by the Sweet, ever-so-smooth, French chocolate.

Our late morning destination was Old Town Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter.

Large blocks of cobblestone line the narrow passages, buildings overhead offering shade, a cool respite from the summer heat bearing down at mid-day.

Cobblers. Cheese shops. A bookstore with Bibles in the window. Small cafes. Shops selling beads, necklaces and over-priced souvenirs, Tourists lingering.

Our pace, My pace, was quick. Rush, to see, to get to, to do. Next. Next. Next.

19 years later, I’m flipping through images on the internet, trying to retrace those steps and replay that one hour of Life in Old Town. I’m frustrated, not finding the right images. Memories fray on the edges and now at the center, old photographs left out in the mid-day sun.

And regrets, always hauling the weight of Regrets, why I had not savored those steps (and let my Family do so), rather than greedily gulping them to get to the Next.

It was yet another Meg Rosoff awakening: “I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness…”

I often awaken to this same moment in Barcelona, on quiet Sunday mornings like this one.  I’m walking Old Town. Slowly. I can hear my footsteps. Hear my breath.  Feel the slight autumn breeze on my forearms.  And I’m swamped with a yearning to replay the moment, and regain that intensity of that feeling.

I need to go back.

And do it right this time.

Photo: epepa.eu


  1. Love this! My husband and I went to Barcelona for our honeymoon nearly three years ago, visiting his daughter, a talented jazz singer, who was living and working there at the time. My favourite parts were the music, flamenco dancing, coffee and churros! Hope you can go back and see this beautiful city at your own pace. I too prefer to travel without an itinerary. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As I was reading this, I went from feeling joy for you and your family, and almost tasting those croissants you so vividly describe, to sad that you felt the need to rush through your visit. I think many people try to see too much in too short of a time and don’t slow down to take it all in.

    So, yes, you need to go back and take your time – especially since that time keeps calling you.

    I have to say that when I went to Tuscany all by myself (still can’t believe I did) I luxuriated in my time, getting lost several times, recrossing the same bridges and not having a care in the world if I was missing some museum or another. First time in my life I slowed down that much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Dale. Have never been to Tuscany. Need to. Soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dale, made the exactly same experience, not in Toscana but in remote places in France and elsewhere – during the time I was profoundly unhappy. Those travels were my best, nobody to blame for the one time I drove my rental down an ever more narrowing lane right to the edge of the ocean – thanking my lucky stars that I was able to turn the ‘bagnole’ in the sand and climb up again, no excuses needed when I lost my way (I’m geographically challenged) and only got back on track much later than thought, but it never mattered because I had all the time of the week to myself, my thoughts, my healing….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have walked that very street. I love Barcelona so much. I never tire of it. Always something new to see. Visiting it now that I am retired is such a blessing because I have time to savour it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Regret is such an inconsiderate beast. He lurks like a wild dog waiting to devour peace of mind on quiet Sunday mornings.

    Down dog. Down.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Yes indeed David…go back and enjoy life’s special moments…Spain is special to me so I understand perfectly. In the meantime though, savor the memories until you return there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And you will have even more regrets if you don’t go back before you can’t anymore. Go. Now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s how I feel about my trips to Orvieto, Italy and Tanzania, Africa … I spent way too much time looking through the viewfinder of my camera and not actually seeing /experiencing where I was. On the other hand, I do have some great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ema has a husky, mellow voice. Nice. Your photo is really Zen. That was my first thought. The person so small, the buildings so overpowering. As for having rushed through the things to see and do in Barcelona and other parts of the trip, don’t beat yourself up about it. It was right for you at the time. I think that at every moment we make decisions, big and small, making the best use of our tools at the time. Things change. We change. The way you toured back then is not how you would do it now. So go do it differently if you feel it would be better. My guess is that it won’t be better – just different – and probably twenty years from now, you’ll be going through this process again.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Anneli is right, pal. You did what seemed right to you in the moment…no need to self-flagellate, as you cannot go back in time. But….you most certainly can have a do-over. Allow yourself that! I love imagining you and Susan sitting in a little cafe off La Rambla, sharing a bottle of wonderful Spanish cava and watching the world go by. Barcelona is *such* a fabulous city. Go back and rediscover its charms…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I like the do-over idea and while you are planning the next visit take the time to watch “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” if you haven’t already seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like the do-over idea. As Anneli says, it will be different – mostly because you are different. And while you’re waiting to get there watch “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” if you haven’t already seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Go, DK!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ahh yes ❣️ and get out of the city and connect with the countryside and it’s people. I find that is where unexpected magic happens. Thanks for taking me to slow walks and vacations filled with memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A bloody great post

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful memory and lesson. Once we learn it we can live in this moment no matter where we are “more fully!”Isn’t that what you are called!! “Live and Learn” ha 💜💚💚👏

    Liked by 1 person

  16. we loved our time in Barcelona as well, and we were lucky to have it extended because of a blizzard last year on the East Coast!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh yes. I feel your need. Do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. please go back. and saunter this time. linger as you go.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Are you sure it was Barcelona? I’ve been in Barcelona and it was filled to capacity with people, tourists, vendors, it was wahaaaay too hot and crowded – and wonderful, mysterious, grandiose and great fun too! Went there once in JULY (for God’s sake!!!!) with a small but glorious singer ensemble and although we were dead every day because there wasn’t a single moment of quiet (we so craved), it was far too hot and sticky, terrible beds, yet we had a great time too because we sang for 8hrs a day, gave concerts and soaked up the atmosphere of this city.
    BUT then I thought you were speaking about PARIS, or LISBON – both cities offering the very same things you speak about in your post – and I assure you you could find those experiences in many other places too. You also know the secret NOW: tAKE your time, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to rush through places, see less but enjoy these days, things, sit down to a simple but honest meal, try to talk to the people who cooked your food, sell you their produce and art, learn enough words of their language to say please, thank you, smile often, be kind – and Barcelona, Lisbon, even Paris or Zurich will be the greatest places you’ll visit!
    And YES, GO…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m sure it was Barcelona. I’ve never been to Paris OR Lisbon. Although Jose Saramago took me to Lisbon during any number of his novels. OK, MUST GO

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was just the photo! It could well have been taken in Paris, Lisbon or even in Zurich where I am right now. I have similar ones (with less light obviously as it’s November) – and I’ll have you know that I’m a sucker for Lisbon – love it much more than Barcelona – shall learn Portuguese once I’ll lead a settled life so that I can interact much more with the people living there!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Agreed…

    Liked by 1 person

  21. We’re all Works in Progress…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. trirengganis says:

    amaze !!!

    Liked by 1 person

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