Ten things I learnt in Spain…

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For some light relief, let me share some of the challenges, joys and startling insights that I encountered while in Barcelona and Girona, in Spain for five days last week…

1. If I want to climb Girona‘s medieval city walls, despite a loss of one third of my lung function, I damn well will… just slowly and with lots of rest stops. It was worth it!

IMG_2708P10707952. There’s really nothing quite like xurros amb xocolata (in Spanish: churros con chocolate), sat outside on a terrace in the wintery sunshine – Really! Nothing! Like it!

3. It is possible to be completely stuffed on pinchos/tapas… every day for four days… and still not have tried everything.

duck tapas3a. Who needs sex when I got so damn close to an oral orgasm by eating – in particular, a Basque pintxo of the most succulent duck ever, with a thick sweet blueberry conserve? OMG! (at Zanpanzar, Girona)

4. In Catalunya, if you’re not sure of a woman’s name, there’s a very good chance it’ll be Montserrat. They’re everywhere!

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5. Wandering around with eyes watering due to dry eye and blinded by bright sunshine, then losing a contact lens is not ideal in a visually exciting city.

desigual morning coat6. Shopping is fun… in Barcelona… on steroids… Especially if you like distinctive fashion… and you have a generous birthday gift just gagging to be spent.

7. Steroids are definitely my drug of choice. You know… if and when the time comes… I think I’d prefer them to morphine. Just saying…

7a. Prednisolone has less dramatic effects than Dexamethosone. Nonetheless, I relished eating, smelling, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching – all sensory perception heightened and feeling high, if a little peculiar. I loved it!

“And I am feeling a little peculiar
And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream at the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”
– 4 Non Blondes, What’s Goin’ On?

8. Gaudí is not the only amazing architect of his time in the region. How about Rafael Masó in Gerona and Lluís Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona? The Palau de la Música Catalana is truly awesome! But I still think Gaudí is my favourite.

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9. In Catalunya, the sense of pride in the culture and region is fierce. I loved hearing Catalan everywhere, including the beautiful voice of a local soprano, Maite Mer, whose version of ‘The Answer is Blowing in the Wind’ [Escolta-ho en el vent] gave me chills and made me want to learn Catalan. Sadly, it isn’t available on YouTube, although I did buy a CD. But here she is singing Que Tinguem Sort [Lucky].

10. Feeling edgy and nervous about my future health, but not paying it no-never-mind for a few days certainly makes for a super-charged response to life. (The steroids undoubtedly play a part.)

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