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It’s fitting that I am spending my last night of this trip in Barcelona. In more ways then one, Barcelona is where I come full circle. It’s also where I feel the most content.

I first came here three years ago. The end of a trip; deflated – Barcelona made us come alive again and I fell deeply, madly in love.

This time I had it earmarked early. The one place I wanted to have my birthday. Again it provided and I ended my birthday at dawn, skinny dipping on Playa Barceloneta.

I’ve become an advocate. I spent today helping another Aussie traveler find her way around here. I told her, like I’ve told everyone else, that this is my favorite place. She asked me why? I’m never quite sure but I think it’s because Barcelona makes no judgement.

Barcelona is hot, sweaty, creative, eccentric, dirty, colorful, confident. It’s people love being here, I love being here.

It’s the kind of place where anything can happen. Where streets creep like tentacles from Plaça de Catalunya to ferry people into alleyways where hidden treasure awaits. Where art is everywhere, where people speak their mind. Where tourists mix with hipsters and buskers and transvestites and policemen and construction workers and migrants and children and socialites in a big fat sticky mess.

Like the rest of Spain it’s a urban planning dream. People live and breath and love together in this public space. Packed like sardines on La Barceloneta beach, funneled through the cacophony that is La Ramblas, jammed into tiny tapas bars to drink sangria and mojitos.

Running through it all Gaudi is perfect for this city – his works feature imperfect splintered and cracked mosaic, natural forms that challenge symmetry, stunning sci-if monuments to god that remain incomplete. An artistic expression of what makes this place so unique.

Returning this time I found the glove still fit, perhaps even better than before.

And so I end my trip within this and I couldn’t be happier. I’m writing my last post in a tiny tapas bar at 10pm on a Tuesday night while everyone around me speaks Spanish. I’ve eaten a dinner of cuttlefish and drank rose. People are taking photos and laughing while big band music plays in the background. A little while ago the lights went out and we all cheered and clapped when the barman turned them back on. The walls are full of art and gig posters and exhibition flyers. There are used napkins on the floor. It’s communal, it’s messy, it’s full of life and colour. And that’s why I’ll keep coming back to Barcelona.

Nb – this post is dedicated to my gorgeous friend Shannon. It wasn’t just Barcalona that made my birthday great but her determination to share it with me against the odds.

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