“Un Vista Impresionant de Barcelona”

Having been peppered by a sudden hailstorm this morning, I’m glad I can flee once more into the warmer arms of Spain. Or perhaps I should say Catalonia, because today we’ll be in Barcelona, guided by Teresa, who sent me her favourite sight, sound, scent and taste in Catalan, which looks like Spanish on paper, but certainly sounds different.

Before I started writing, I dipped my mind briefly into the font of wisdom that is Wikipedia and made some intriguing discoveries about the languages of Spain. For instance, what most people call “Spanish” is actually “Castilian”, which is one of around 15 co-official, recognised and unofficial languages and dialects spoken in Spain. Their names are so poetic that I can’t resist listing them here: Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Galician, Aranese, Aragonese, Leonese, Asturian, Cantabrian, Extremaduran, Eonavian, Fala, Riffian Berber, Caló, and last but certainly not least, Silbo Gomero, a whistling language “spoken” on the island of La Gomera, which was saved from the brink of extinction by teaching it at schools.

All of which brings me back to Teresa and my attempt to learn from her wonderful descriptions of Barcelona in Catalonian, which seems to have more X-es than my wife. (Just kidding, darling.)

Sight: “Hi ha vàries: sempre des d´un lloc elevat. Per exemple des de dalt la Sagrada Família, des del Parc Güell, des del Tibidavo i també des d´un edifici alt com l´hotel Arts. De tots aquests llocs s´obté una vista impresionant de Barcelona.” – I think Teresa likes to see the sights from a higher elevation (“lloc elevat”). For instance, from the Sagrada Família cathedral at Parc Güell (both designed by master architect Gaudí) or from mount Tibidavo, which offer impressive vistas (“vista impresionant”) of Barcelona.

09 december Barcelona - Parc Guell

Parc Güell

Sound: “Un dels meus sorolls preferits a Barcelona es dóna normalment al cap de setmana, on el volum de cotxes circulant baixa molt i pots gaudir d´un xic de silenci i escoltar de tant en tant algun ocell cantant.” – I love the rhyme and rhythm at the end of this description, which I think refers to the sound of traffic building up in the early morning. The singing of wheels interspersed with the silence of waiting cars at traffic lights.

Scent: “L´olor preferida seria un dia de pluja i que olores a humitat, a plantes, a flors … això combinat amb una olor a mar (salat), és molt especial pel nas.” – Could Teresa be referring to the scent of plants and flowers moistened by rain on a hot day, in combination with the salty scent of the sea?

Taste: “El sabor, sense dubte és el del menjar: hi ha una bona cuina com sardines, gambes, arrossos, etc. No oblidem les verdures i les fruites que també són molt bones, segons l´època.” – I think Teresa is referring to the taste of menjar, which could be like paella, containing sardines, shrimp, rice and more. And we should not forget the accompanying vegetables and fruit, of course.

And on that happy and healthy note, we take leave of Barcelona. Please feel free to correct any errors in my translations and to post your own favourites below. Meanwhile, I’ll be out in the cold, trying to remember to shake the hail out of my hoodie before I pull it up over my head …

Richard de Nooy