For some light relief, let me share some of the challenges, joys and startling insights that I encountered while in Barcelona and Girona, in Spain for five days last week…
1. If I want to climb Girona‘s medieval city walls, despite a loss of one third of my lung function, I damn well will… just slowly and with lots of rest stops. It was worth it!
2. There’s really nothing quite like xurros amb xocolata (in Spanish: churros con chocolate), sat outside on a terrace in the wintery sunshine – Really! Nothing! Like it!
3a. Who needs sex when I got so damn close to an oral orgasm by eating – in particular, a Basque pintxo of the most succulent duck ever, with a thick sweet blueberry conserve? OMG! (at Zanpanzar, Girona)
4. In Catalunya, if you’re not sure of a woman’s name, there’s a very good chance it’ll be Montserrat. They’re everywhere!
5. Wandering around with eyes watering due to dry eye and blinded by bright sunshine, then losing a contact lens is not ideal in a visually exciting city.
7. Steroids are definitely my drug of choice. You know… if and when the time comes… I think I’d prefer them to morphine. Just saying…
7a. Prednisolone has less dramatic effects than Dexamethosone. Nonetheless, I relished eating, smelling, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching – all sensory perception heightened and feeling high, if a little peculiar. I loved it!
“And I am feeling a little peculiar
And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream at the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”
– 4 Non Blondes, What’s Goin’ On?
8. Gaudí is not the only amazing architect of his time in the region. How about Rafael Masó in Gerona and Lluís Domènech i Montaner in Barcelona? The Palau de la Música Catalana is truly awesome! But I still think Gaudí is my favourite.
9. In Catalunya, the sense of pride in the culture and region is fierce. I loved hearing Catalan everywhere, including the beautiful voice of a local soprano, Maite Mer, whose version of ‘The Answer is Blowing in the Wind’ [Escolta-ho en el vent] gave me chills and made me want to learn Catalan. Sadly, it isn’t available on YouTube, although I did buy a CD. But here she is singing Que Tinguem Sort [Lucky].
10. Feeling edgy and nervous about my future health, but not paying it no-never-mind for a few days certainly makes for a super-charged response to life. (The steroids undoubtedly play a part.)