Yes, I know I just got back from a big trip to Hawaii. And I know that I have traded in 6-hour jetlag from one direction for 6-hour jetlag in the other! But in my defense, I have wanted to get to Barcelona for years. Unfortunately, Chaim is not much of a traveller, and every time I put my name in the hat to serve as rabbi on a cruise that was leaving from or ending up in Barcelona, I was never lucky enough to get that gig. But this time I hit the jackpot! A cruise that begins and ends in Barcelona that the cruise line is paying for in full for myself and a guest (usually guest staff and guest have to pay own airfare and a nominal per-day cruise fee). On this trip, my dear friend Julie (and former college roommate sophomore year) is my plus-one. Julie lives in Boston and is a professional violinist. My responsibilities will be to lead the Passover Seders on-board the ship. And in addition to Barcelona, we get a day in Valencia, Cartagena, Córdoba (Malaga port), Gibraltar, and Seville (Cadiz port). Couldn’t pass it up, would you?
Julie and I came a couple of days early to pack in as much of Barcelona as we could before sailing off tomorrow afternoon. In addition to spending rare and sacred time with Julie, my dear friend Laura (former room-mate from my days in Santa Cruz, CA whose wedding I just co-officiated at in March!) is here with her new husband Jon, having just honeymooned in France and now in Barcelona so Jon could attend a conference. So in a wonderful confluence of calendars, Laura’s days have been free to bop around with me and Julie.
For me, coming to Barcelona was all about seeing the incredible architectural gems of Antoni Gaudi that are all over the city. As one of his architecture professors apparently said, “I don’t know if we just graduated a genius or a madman.” His stuff is wildly inventive! You have to see it to believe, so none of my pictures will do it justice.
Lest you think us fanatics, it was truly NOT all-Gaudi-all the-time. We also went to the Boqueria market off the famous boulevard La Rambla (quite wonderful, but doesn’t hold a candle to the markets I saw in Morocco), visited the absolutely revelatory Picasso museum that holds works, I assure you, that you would never believe were his, and went to the warm, welcoming Reform synagogue in Barcelona on Friday night for services and Shabbat dinner, where I was called into service to offer an impromptu d’var Torah (then translated into Spanish –possibly into Catalan, the official language, I’m not positive — sentence-by-sentence), that actually had folks crying! That was a shining moment in my rabbinic career.
On Friday, Julie logged us in at 26,000 steps on her Fitbit step-counter. That’s about 11 miles, and that was on our first day, having arrived sleepless from a red-eye that landed at 7AM (1 AM east coast time)!
Tomorrow morning we will take a 2-hour private walking tour of Jewish Barcelona before heading to the ship. Gotta come back soon to Barcelona (or do I say that about every place I ever visit?)