A glorious change in the weather has arrived in the form of a cousin.
On Tuesday, we woke up hours before the dawn, thumped our bags down the four flights of marble stairs to the street and cabbed our way to Seville airport. We’d booked a flight on Ryanair, the European budget airline famous for its ultra-low cost flights ($15 gets you a ticket from Seville to Morocco, for example) and notorious for its tricky means of squeezing extra euros out of you (airport check-in can add 30€ per person and if you haven’t pre-purchased your checked baggage allowance, you can pay up to extra 100€ per bag). So we made sure to print our boarding passes the night before at a copisteria (copy shop), packed carefully and got there early to avoid any shenanigans.
Shenanigans were succesfully avoided, and we made the hour and a half trip to Barcelona with a short nap and without incident.
We spent our first night in a pleasant hostel, sharing a kitchen and living room with other travelers, then made our way a few blocks over to an AirBnB apartment in an old building in the Cuidat Vella area of the city, just across the way from El Barri Gotic, where we awaited the arrival of my brother and sister-in-law, Nick and Loretta, and our angel of deliverance, their daughter Moby.
Moby is just three months younger than Zev, and they’re cut from the same cloth: sure of themselves, sharp and full of vim. And best of all, they really love each other: it was the sweetest thing to see them catch sight of each other for the first time a year or and charge down the street, both sets of arms wide open, crashing into embrace.
And for us, it’s meant that the adults get to walk down the street together, talking to each other, poking our noses in shops and churches, while the two kids chatter and play. It’s difficult to overstate the emotional impact of this change on Michelle and I. While Barcelona is, in general, a more interesting, art-filled, modern-ancient city than traditional-ancient Seville, and this has lightened our mood, the pleasure of adult conversation counted not in words, or even sentences, but uninterrupted paragraphs and pages, has been transformative. Colors are brighter, sounds are crisper, the sun is warmer and the foods are richer.
Plus, there’s a playground just around the corner from our apartment with a swingset, some climbing structures, open space for playing tag and a corner where a confident rat makes his home. It’s ringed by outdoor cafes and bars, so it’s pleasant place to gear up for the morning, adults splintering off to buy pastries or coffee, recombining and then tumbling on again, while the kids enjoy underdogs and “pillapilla” (Spanish for tag, I’m told).
The six of us have had a pleasant time exploring Barcelona with ample stops at the little playgrounds that are sprinkled throughout the labyrinthine city in the little plaça’s that have nestled themselves in wherever the crossing of tiny alleys permit.
Things haven’t always turned out as we’d prefer, of course: our trip to the soaring, century-spanning cathedral of Sagrada Familia was marred by a meltdown from an underfed and overtired boy-child, but appropriately set expectations save the day: the kids had a grand time chasing bubbles in the park across the street before we went, and we saw enough of it that we didn’t feel cheated.
We’ll call that a victory.