Barcelona, Paris and New York
There is something throbbing and live about these sprawling metropolises. Growing up in Bombay
as I did daily cacophony of human and machinery’s hustle bustle had already done a number on me,
settling inside psyche, under baby pink nails growing with me as I burgeoned in mind and form.
Public transport especially trains have been lullabies most of my life and somehow we’ve always
resided in close proximity to trains, within arm’s reach you could say. Harbor line trains at
Victoria Terminus Mumbai or London underground, Paris Subways or Barcelona trains – all are same
yet unique “regionally” – with a varied comfort level, travel friendly quotient.
However, Mumbai trains teem with people unlike others. In Barcelona it was heartening to have transportation
staff on hand who were uber helpful in every way –be it working the train ticket machines or ourhandling of
foreign currency – in this case euro. We enjoyed our train ride to Mediterranean Sea which I was quite eager
to reacquaint myself with. I was not disappointed either. We had to cross the lively Las Ramblas strip with
a heady mix of street artists, performers and small boutiques and food stalls. Mosaic street Lamp benches
were unique in themselves – Barcelona being synonymous with Antoni Gaudi’s unique vision and architecture
be it the Sagrada Familia basilica or Gaudi houses and Park Guell- all well worth visits.
Gothic portion replete with lurking gargoyles of Barcelona tickled my thriller ridden “bookworm” mind
along with the excitement of Picasso museum, modern museum and Dali works and Tapas’ joints.
In Barcelona, I was able to meet a bit of “home” in shopkeepers from North India, Lahore and Dacca
and it made me feel that we were all in fact one big family. A visit to the soaring Montserrat Monastery
was the highlight for me during our first visit in 2011. The black Madonna in this place of worship
has powerful vibrations as I felt them strongly and the boys’ choir was the perfect finishing touch.
A bit of nirvana, if I may.
During both of our visits we did not see any bullfights which was dandy for me but the Flamenco dance
show set my pulse on fire and feet happily tapped away coming alive, involuntarily. Wines too go well with
served meals and we enjoyed it all, very much. During our recent visit this month of November, 2014, our
hotel was quite near the circular Las Arenas, Barcelona, where the Bullfights took place once but now it was
a wonderful shopping center with 360 bird’s eye views from the rooftop. We loved our visit and views a lot.
Our week in Paris was quite memorable as we supped on a sumptuous smorgasbord visits to fresh fruits,
vegetables market, rubbed noses with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre among other great works admiring the
beautiful lines of the glass pyramid that had figured in Da Vinci code by Dan Brown. The sprawling
spread of Champs de Elises, Arc de Triomphe, exhilerating Montmarte hill climb and those soaring
churches Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur among others uplift spirit soothingly. Moulin Rouge and Lautrec among
other famous painters made it all rather heady for me as I love art and smell of paint a lot.
I even managed to scramble up to the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed a champagne toast with
my young companions. It was heady and refreshing. Versailles Palace was a beautiful eye-opener as was
our refreshing trip to view the French chateaux in the Loire valley, southern France. Above all our
visit to Claude Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny was truly heavenly. The water lily pond was achingly
beautiful – highly recommend it.
New York, New York – I love this city as it is my home and its heart beat feels like my own.
Broadway plays, Time Square- literally world’s crossroads, the sinfully expensive chocolates,
perfumes and stores on the famous fifth avenue where religiously my friend and I do window shopping
and then enjoy the Christmas tree in Rockfeller center and admire the skaters after our usual movie
and lunch. We have our daughter living nearby, a real draw for us parents and the museum mile along
with central Park, Prospect park and FAO Schwartz toy store that makes the child in me come alive. I love
our “burb” Park Slope with its unique landmarked brownstones and a smatter of ethnic restaurants et al.
I simply love these three cities equally, unequivocally. I must be a Romano gypsy at heart.