Spain

Barcelona may have taken the top spot as my favourite city in Europe (at the very least, it cracks my top three). It’s hard to put a finger on what makes it so special, but if I had to try to describe it, I’d say it’s the combination of being a coastal city with a distinct identity and language, beautiful weather, good food, unique architecture (see: Gaudi), and a vibrant atmosphere. I already want to go back. Speaking of Gaudi, the inside of La Sagrada Familia has to be experienced for its beauty to be understood. It’s crazy to think that the current basilica is only a fraction of what it will be when it’s finally completed.

I’ve written about Berlin as a street art Mecca, but Valencia took me by surprise. Unlike Berlin’s modern, urban feel, Valencia’s murals bask in the Mediterranean sunshine on weathered Spanish buildings, surrounded by cobblestone courtyards and mosaic-tiled churches. The city’s got a great park and beach, too; you can virtually bike from the north end of the city all the way to the beach in the south on tree-lined bike paths. Combine that with the beach’s warm water and soft sand, and you’ve got the makings of a captivating city.

I didn’t spend much time in Madrid, but the time I did spend I fully enjoyed. I got to see Real Madrid play Getafe FC in a game that featured 10 goals, three of which were scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in a 34-minute span. After missing out on seeing a Premier League match in the United Kingdom, it was the perfect opportunity. The rest of my time in Madrid, I relaxed in El Retiro and enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine. As the weeks roll on, I’ve found myself with less and less energy to spend all day walking around. These days, I’m more content to set up on a bench somewhere and read a book.

Things I’ve seen:

Arc de Triomf, Barcelona.

A post shared by Martin Bauman (@shotbymartin) on

DEIH's "Cosmos Revealing Himself." Spotted in Valencia.

A post shared by Martin Bauman (@shotbymartin) on

Real Madrid vs. Getafe.

A post shared by Martin Bauman (@shotbymartin) on

What I’m reading:

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/domain-spain-how-likely-catalan-independence

http://grantland.com/features/my-letterman-years/

What I’m listening to:

Promise – “Smile Today”
Koncept feat. Soul Khan – “Aspirations”

Best local food I’ve eaten:

Tapas in Madrid. I had calamari with olives and pepper, bacon-wrapped mushrooms, and a Spanish omelette. All were delicious.

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