The Traveller’s Eye-View

Her streets are paved with stories from faraway lands. The cobblestones have heard the echoing cries of sorrow, war, disaster, but also of love. The walls of Gaudí have beheld the prayers of desperation and have gazed over the grief of its people. On a lone hilltop, the symbol of the Messiah watches over the city.

Red and yellow silk caress the glass peering over the allies. Tourists bustle in its shadows, their cameras stealing the history engraved in every crevice. Raindrops weep over the slippery lanes, travelling with the gypsy to her flamenco performance, and with the father to his family of three. Mystery floats through the land, from one town to the next – like a lonely spirit looking for a place to rest. The smell of tapas and wine brush against your hair; the scent of weed and flavoured cigarettes cling to your clothing and entice you into gloomy walkways. Picasso leaves his touch in the hidden galleries and books in the bags of college art students.

In the Gothic part, a humble woman sits. She is wrapped up in wool and cotton, geared for her day. Her voice ripples across the antique flea-market, down the stone pathway, and bounces off the wrought iron protecting the homes above, until it settles in the darkness. People rush past her, distracted by man’s architecture. For a brief moment, they smile when they hear her – but very seldom stop. She is just a poor woman, quilting the city with her harmony and a bit of sadness.

An hour’s drive away is a medieval town, one of many that are treasured by the city folk. Castles reign from every mountain, towering over the valleys of the once Ferdinand and Isabella. Cruelty and beauty mingle in the paintings lining the palaces and cathedrals; one can almost touch the remnants of suffering staining the fortresses.

Ávila, Segovia, Toledo: may my memory never grow dim of your worlds. May I always remember the colour of your tiles, Casa Batlló; the silence of your wooden chairs, Sagrada Familia; the sincerity of your touch, Casa Milà; the exoticism of your paths, Park Güell.

This is the Land of Art; this is España.

January 14, 2017, memoirs of pre-COVID

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