In May of 2013, from Budapest, my daughter Gitiim and I flew into Barcelona for a 7-day visit. A lovely aspect of this segment of our journey in Europe was, we have long-time family friends living there—Mitsi, Gitiim’s friend and former elementary school classmate, and my old friend and upper westside Manhattan neighbor, Lourdes.

A native of Spain, an economist, and a retired university professor, Lourdes raised her 2 boys in New York. One of her sons, Marc, a film-maker, now resides in Barcelona, as well, and it was Marc who gave Gitiim a briefing on Barcelona’s hottest music venues. 

Mitsi worked as an English tutor, and visitors’ guide. With her expertise in navigating the city, we were lucky to have Mitsi take a day and an evening off, to squire us around. One place in particular, we found jaw-dropping spectacular, and may have missed on our own, is the Palau de la Musica Catalana, designed by 19th century Catalan architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Its unique architectural design, and the creative application of a mix of materials to both the exterior and interior surfaces of the structure, are what make this music hall incredibly unique and wondrous.

Then, of course, there is the spectacular architecture of another 19th century Catalan designer, Antoni Gaudí, that made Barcelona a requisite. It was my friend and Cooper Union classmate, graphic artist Tom Haas’ love and reverence for Gaudí’s work that piqued my interest and determination to visit Barcelona, this time around the continent. One Christmas, I received a detailed, meticulously hand-crafted greeting card from Tom—a long established tradition of his; it was a pop-up rendition of Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia. Tom’s great desire was to see the great cathedral in person; and he did, the summer before he died in February of 2007.

And there was my dear friend Gladys Toulis, back in New York; we maintained contact via e-mail, throughout the journey through Spain. Gladys, an artist, teacher, and world traveler, along with her husband Bill, a print-making artist and instructor, covered just about every inch of Spain, during their life-time. It was Gladys’ constant feeding of great traveling tips—from must-see places, to must-try foods—that made the Spain leg of our 7-week journey, such a sensational adventure.

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— At Casa Milà “La Pedrera” (the stone quarry, referencing its façade)

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