When a winter’s city trip is graced by a little sunshine, it feels almost as though you are tricking the seasons. To feel the sun on your skin after months of deep freeze and half-hearted daylight is like the first bite of deliciously indulgent food after a period of health food austerity. So when the sun graced our recent trip to Barcelona, there was frankly no keeping us out of it, something to which my now rather ruddy face is testament. While the charm of Barcelona’s old gothic quarter streets is undoubtedly the fact that they are so narrow and built-up, this also means that the sun rarely reaches down to street level. Consequently, in order to enjoy a moment’s sun-basking without the inconvenience of shadow, nor the interruptions caused by wind, we had to get out of the squeeze of the gothic streets, and head for one of Barcelona’s hip and happening café-lined squares. And where better than to the King of them all? The Plaça Reial.
The Plaça Reial is, like so many of the similarly enclosed quadrants which make up the Plaza Majores of so many Spanish cities, the beating heart of Barcelona. Just off the equally bustling Las Ramblas, and providing welcome public space after the narrow maze of the gothic streets behind it, the square is a place where all of Barcelona gather, to have coffee and drinks with friends, to hear the music provided by buskers, to seek out the many bargains which are to be found in the square’s Sunday market, or merely to amble around with a dog or a date, or just enjoy the sunshine like we did over a coffee on each of our three mornings in the city. In fact taking our coffee in the square became something of a daily ritual without which the day would have started prematurely. It also enabled us to take up a prime position for a spot of people watching, something which this series of photos surely demonstrates we did well.
Whether it be those sunbathing in their windows, or the little dogs sunbathing on the pavement below – the Plaça Reial truly was a place where all of Barcelona came to enjoy the first sunshine of Spring – and we were only too happy to join them.
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