Getting up before 8 o’clock after three days of conference seemed a huge challenge to me and I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it in the first place. But having been told by a friend to go to Montserrat – “you will love it” – I nevertheless did. After a café con leche in a small bar next to the train station, I was ready to go.
It was worth it. Everything, not only the getting up but also the walk up from the abbey (700m altitude) to the highest point (1236m). The landscape constantly changes, every time you turn around there is a beautiful sight and it is never the same. The abbey itself was less fascinating to me, especially since there were far too many people but I still advice the background reading.
To me, it were the mountains that mattered, the sunshine and the question if there is not at least one mountain top where humans helped nature in the shaping.
If Gaudí hadn’t lived for real, the tourist industry would have invented him to sell all those toys, cups and shirts. Without Gaudí, Barcelona would be one of many Spanish city with a cultural heritage similar to the others; still worth visiting but not that outstanding. However, Gaudí did exist and inspired, built and created some of the most marvellous buildings in the city, the biggest of all to be finished in roughly 20 years’ time: the Sagrada Familia.
What impressed me most besides the sheer size of this cathedral was the fact that it is built right now and the way Gaudí sought his inspiration in nature: trees, leaves, fruitstands. Once it will be finished, it will be huge but full of light, overwhelming but welcoming and more than a good reason to come back to Barcelona.
I also went to see the Park Güell which clearly inspired some of the money makers but considering how much dull, plain concrete buildings have been and are still built, it is a pity that not more architects dare to follow Gaudí’s playful, organic and individualistic creations.
After a far too short episode in July, it was great to be back in this vibrating, sunny and beautiful city. Three full days all for myself; life can be wonderful.
One of the toughest things was still to chose from the many things this city has to offer. On top of the usual selection – sightseeing, beach and going out – came the celebrations for the patron saint of the city – la Mercé. The weather was not to warm and encouraged to walk around which I eventually finished doing on Thursday.
Just like last time, one of the main impressions that struck me is the beauty of the city and its easiness. Every other corner is a pretty house, a glimpse worth being noticed, a nice square or park to be visited. Every other corner is a café, a pub or tapas pub to sit down and enjoy the sunshine. The city invites to relax, take it easy and stop worrying.
Why is it that so many people can’t any longer enjoy a concert, respect sacred buildings or value a painting? Why is it that hundreds of people take their cameras out and take, with flash though it clearly isn’t allowed, picture over picture. Most of them thoughtless ones. Why not just looking, enjoying, watching what is going on? Why this need to fix everything on polaroid pixels? Why this need to prove we were there? And to who: ourselves, our friends and families? Would they doubt us if we hadn’t a prove? Why is it so hard to simply enjoy the moment?
Not that I have any answers to those questions but I keep on wondering.
The good thing about conferences abroad is that you theoretically have the chance to go to a new place, discover another culture and enjoy a different environment.
The bad thing about conferences abroad is that you practically don’t notice the difference between a hotel in Düsseldorf, Barcelona or London if you spend 18 hours working and the rest sleeping.
Posted in Pas mal
One of my objectives this year was to read at least two books per month. The books have to be unrelated to my job, I don’t count these fellows, and not contribute to my personal development other than having fun. I was already behind in the schedule when a friend borrowed me all the 7 seasons of the West Wing.
With every evening passing where the choice is made easily in favor of the DVD, I ensure that I won’t reach my objective. For most episodes, I could make a case why it would be justified watching them at work; that much do I learn personally and professionally. Though I probably have too much fun…