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Outside These Colony Walls

by Kevin Davis


Early one morning this winter, my brother called out of the blue to share some news. He is recently married and lives in Atlanta with his wife Lauren. He had seen a prompt on the website for a Delta fare sale to Barcelona, Spain, round-trip for $400pp. The hitch was that you had to leave out of a smaller regional airport, instead of his home airport in ATL. As it turns out, both LEX and CVG happen to qualify and we immediately scoured weekends to make a whirlwind trip across the pond to Spain. After consulting with Afsi's work schedule, we settled on 4 days in May for a spontaneous European weekend.


Matt Helgerson and his family graciously agreed to watch after our dog, Sawyer, while we were gone. That trust is one of the reasons we love our new home in the neighborhood. We left for Paris, connecting on our way to Barcelona. Our tight connection in Paris would have a major problem if not for our frequent flier status, which offered a secondary customs line for clearance. I recommend booking at least 2 hours between legs if flying through CDG without that perk. We departed on a Thursday and landed Friday morning, in time to catch an early lunch on the busy Passeig de Gracia. 


A word of advice for people visiting Spain for the first time, as we were: Expect the locals to eat lunch around 2pm, with dinner well after 8pm. Both meals can last for hours and table service is a relaxed affair in local restaurants away from common tourist areas. The city has a lot to offer the senses; Barcelona is a modern metropolis filled with people and beautiful architecture. Many buildings have been built in the past century, but sprinkled in among the modern high-rises are iconic attractions like the Sagrada Familia cathedral and Park Guell. During the lunch period on work days, paella in cast iron skillets are presented at tables on the sidewalk and the smells mix with the sounds of a city full of life. 


With only 3 days to really tour the city, there was no time to rest from the overnight flight. We went immediately after lunch to the Picasso museum to pay homage to the genius throughout his many years of creation. My appreciation for Picasso's later abstract work grew after viewing brilliant Renaissance-style portraits he painted while barely yet a teenager. His capability and talent are on display across a museum dedicated to his life's works, which is tucked away in an unassuming alleyway in the Gothic quarter.


We ate one of the best meals of our lives that night at a tapas restaurant called Sensi Bistro. The menu features traditional Spanish tapas, served to the table as the chef creates, which made our meal a non-stop, 2+ hour long experience accompanied with Cava sangria and a lot of laughter. This capped off about 24 hours of being awake, so we happily crashed at our AirBnB early that night. 


The next two days, we took the train to the main attractions. We ate and drank our way through the city and even took a guided bus tour from the cathedral to the beach and up to the Park for sunset. On our final day in the country, we hopped a train to Figueres, Spain, to see the home of Salvador Dali and spend several hours at his museum. Since Dali played a role designing the museum, it is like a journey into the man's mind. The museum exposes his creativity and talent across every medium, from paint to sculpture and from film to jewelry. His experiments in optical illusion are on a massive scale which we had never before seen, even more than what Afsi has seen at his second museum in St. Augustine, FL. Salvador Dali is her and my brother's favorite artist and we were able to dive deep into the thousands of pieces and decades of artistic creation. This museum really capped our purpose for visiting Barcelona. When a trip is compressed into so few hours, the difficulty is filling the time with worthwhile experiences. Even if we had managed only to see the Dali museum, it would have made the trip worth it. 


After another chaotic flight through Paris back to Cincinnati, we drove back to an excited puppy and a very welcome night's sleep. As always when we return to Lexington, we sigh at the turn onto Colonial Drive, appreciating the homecoming almost as much as the escape. --

More photos can be viewed here. 

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