Catalunya’s Many Free Spirits

Barcelona, Spain, is my first stop on a four month adventure through Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Yahoo! But Barcelona….This delightful city is the center of Spain’s Catalunya region — historic, rich and proudly its own culture. The people here speak Catalan, a spin-off of Spanish, (but yes they also speak Spanish so my crude Spanish is useful but it’s Mexican Spanish so….) For many years, the Catalans have advocated for independence from Spain. This hasn’t been popular with the Spanish government, which last year convicted nine separatist leaders for sedition.

My BFF since 6th grade, Belle, is here with me. We only had three days in the city so we hit the highlights — Barcelona’s amazing food, art and architecture.

Most famous among Barcelona’s architectural treasures are the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, especially the Sagrada Familia, a Catholic church that has been under construction since 1882. It is a riot of cement and marble detail in all sorts of styles, and you wonder whether it will collapse of its own weight. They say it will be done by 2026 but I dunno….

And then there is Barcelona’s Pablo Picasso, one of the world’s most influential artists. Barcelona’s Picasso Museum does not have his best work but its collection is large and varied. I visited it about 15 years ago and was happy to see my two favorite exhibits are still there.

One is Picasso’s playful ceramics…

The other is a series of drawings and paintings that reconstruct El Greco’s classic “Las Meninas” painting.

El Greco’s “Las Meninas”








As a sort of art world bookend, there is also the museum dedicated to the work Joan Miro. Miro was born in Barcelona and, like Picasso, was a pacifist, but with a more  metaphysical approach. He once commented that his works must be “conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.” There is love in his paintings.

After several meals of paella, gelato and Spanish rioja wine, we set out for Catalunya’s gorgeous Costa Brava. Here, there are no signs of large corporations, political hysteria or modern anxiety. We are staying at Masos d’en Coll, an organic farm with a whole bunch of the region’s Spanish horses, relatives of the Spanish mustangs of the American west.  We had a couple of six hour rides through the spectacular agricultural lands to ancient villages and a long stretch of pristine Mediterranean beach. On the third day, like god, we rested. Unlike god, we are sore.

Tomorrow, Morocco!




  1. ¡Bon día Kim! Parlo una mica de Catala.

    ¡Viva Catalunya! I’m jealous but happy for you por supuesto.

    ¡Qué vaya con dios y cuídate muchísimo!


  2. Have you been to Montserrat to hike or adore the black virgin? Or Malaga since you mention Miro … magical places


    1. Hi Betsy, I would love to visit Montserrat but our time her is short since Belle has to leave in a week. I have been to Malaga and saw the Miro exhibit and the Picasso museum there. Wonderful!

  3. Beautiful Catalunya. Looks magnificent, Kim! I’ve been thinking of you, wondering how your travel plans would go with coronavirus. (Apparently I’m living in its epicenter in the US.) ¡Buen viaje!

  4. Lovely pics! I loved, loved Barcelona. Will have to check out the Costa Brava when we go to Barcelona and then hike the Camino. Aren’t you hiking the Camino soon?

  5. Ah! Lovely, lovely, lovely! Great to see Belle and you (?) on horses at the beach. As always – your writing and images are telling lots. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Loved this post and glad the horse riding all worked out, albeit sore. Reminds me of being on a camel which I only lasted on for like 2 hours. Looking forward to the rest of your adventure and we’ll be trading stories as I head to New Zealand in about 10 days. ¡Seguimos Adelante!

  7. How nice that I can armchair travel with you and enjoy the highlights of your trip. With the Corona virus hysteria currently engulfing us, I am happy to live vicariously and look forward to your next post.

  8. Oh goody, we are on another adventure. Looking forward to it. Do keep us informed on how the rest of the world is experiencing the “new virus”. ❤

    1. Hey Me’irah. Thinking of you in the small city of Girona, Spain yesterday when we were walking through the historic Jewish quarter — built more than 500 years ago and lovingly restored much more recently. Hugs….

  9. Glad to see you are on the go! Looks like we will cross paths in the air. Was just in Oman, Israel, and now Turkey and headed to Spain in April. Where else are you planning to go?

  10. Yes I see you have been all over the place! Planning to be in Amsterdam, Berlin, Romania and then to the five “Stans” in Central Asia and Saudi Arabia. Back to Portugal to walk the Camino in May.
    I am interested in whether you were passionate about Oman. Keep flying girl!

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