I’m living in a tourist town. I suppose there have always been tourists in my prior locales (hippies looking for Bob Dylan’s house and alcoholics looking for the Summit Brewery) but never like in Barcelona. Everyone confused on the subway is a tourist. Everyone with a disposable camera is a tourist. Everyone white at the beach is a tourist. I have nothing against tourists. I was attracted to this city while a tourist; however, it is just hard to comprehend that I live in a place that is so cool, hoards of people pay thousands of dollars to vacation in my neighborhood. [Note: I am now on couchsurfing.com…anyone can stay in my neighborhood—on my couch—for free.]
Yesterday, I finally felt comfortable enough to interrupt some tourists and give them some practical advice. I was going for a run and for some reason decided to run down Passeig de Gracia—the street with all the designer handbag shops. While stopped at a red light, I watched a trio of American tourists as they tried to figure out which direction they were facing. It was a long light, hence a long debate. Just as the light turned green, I walked over to them and said, “Southeast.”
They were shocked. I’m not sure if they were surprised that I spoke like an American or that they had been so conspicuous that everyone heard their conversation. Whatever the case they promptly turned around and headed towards some Gaudi attraction. Everyday I have multiple opportunities to aid tourists. It is fun. I am going to do it more often.
This brings me to another topic…Gaudi. Gaudi was an influential architect who lived roughly 100 years ago. He designed a number of buildings in Barcelona, all of which look very contemporary and original even today. Now, I agree that the buildings are very awe-inspiring and atypical. Despite this, I can’t comprehend why people suddenly become interested in architecture when they come to Barcelona. In most places I doubt the hundreds of thousands of soccer moms and prepubescent suburban boys would care less about the appearance of a building, but in Barcelona, they pay big bucks to tour Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. It has been established that while in Barcelona, you need to see Gaudi. For this reason people will go and take pictures where they are told to do so. If these buildings were in Akron, Ohio, I doubt they’d receive any attention.