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Dear Grandma,

After visiting Portugal I am fascinated and so curious for all the coming destinations.

Arriving to Barcelona was very easy. It’s only a bit more than one hour flight from Lisbon. I also got to the hotel fast and was so happy that I actually understood and could talk a bit with the taxi driver. Although Spanish here sounds so much different that the one I learnt at school.

The previous night I made some research of what I want to see. As the time is limited I chose the absolute must see places and decided to see cathedral and one of the most famous Gaudi buildings.

I knew that Sagrada Familia is a great place, I red about it in the guide and internet but what I saw exceeded my expectations. Not only the architecture, which can’t be compared with anything that I’ve seen before but the size of the basilica is stunning. The building is not finished yet, although the construction begun in 1882. The machines spoil the view a bit, but still the high towers and overwhelming number of details are very impressive.  Yet, it’s nothing comparing to the interior of the church. I have no words to describe it. It’s so spacious and tall, and the stained glass windows make the whole basilic to be filled with combination of colours. Truly unforgettable place.

From Sagrada Familia I went straight to see one of the other famous Gaudi’s masterpieces – Casa Batllo. What a strange building. On the one hand colorful and beautiful, like taken from a fairy tale, on the other hand a bit too kitch for me. It is impressive and seems unreal, but I wouldn’t be able to live in a place like that, I am definitely used to right angles.

After all that sightseeing I was a bit tired so I took a taxi to one of the most famous streets – La Rambla and decided to just have a coffee or hot chocolate and rest in one of the cafees.

However it was a siesta time and all the places were full. When I was standing in front of one coffee shop desperately looking for a free table, a woman waved at me and asked:

– Are you looking for a place to sit?

– Yes – I replied in my not so perfect Spanish.

– Sit with me, I’m alone and will enjoy a company.

– Thank you – I replied – My name is Kate. Nice to meet you.

– I’m Carmen. Nice to meet you as well.

That was such a kind gesture. We started talking and she told me that if I have only one day in Barcelona, I can’t leave without tasing a real hot chocolate. When we were waiting to be served I told her the story of my trip, and of you, Grandma. She was really curious and asked me so many questions. She told me you were a very wise woman to send me in this journey before I made my life choices. I asked her why, and she told me that it’s important to have experience and learn life lessons when you are young.

She was so beautiful grandma, had a perfect makeup and beautiful curly hair. She was slim but not skinny and she looked so feminine. But her eyes were very sad. I told her that. Then she smiled and told me:

– It’s so strange that you’ve noticed. All of my family and friends think I hit the jackpot and my life is like a dream. But the truth is, it’s far from that. I got married very young, being 21, he was my highschool sweetheart. We were in love and very happy, both studying. I wanted to be a biologist and my husband always dreamt about his own business. He set up his company when he was 23 and by 25 we were quite well off. It was hard to get a job in a lab so the only offers I had was teaching biology at school. I didn’t want to do it and because we didn’t have financial struggles my husband convinced me to stay home. I did enjoy it in the beginning. When my friends were struggling, hating their bosses and getting up early, I was sleeping long and going to the spa. I still do it. But now, being 45, I feel that my life has no sense. I didn’t achieve anything in life, I don’t have anything to do. I know it sounds terrible, but how much money can you spend? To how many stores can you go before you will be bored? I have a lady who takes care of the house, gardener. And a lot of free time to think. I read, but it only shows me how much time and opportunities I wasted. I’m just thanking god that we are a good marriage with my husband and I’m not struggling in this department. But neither he or any of my old friends understand me. They tell me I live in a fairytale. I know that, and don’t want to be ungrateful but that deep sorrow overpowers me lately. I could work in my field or set up a company or study more. But in comfort and maybe laziness I chose to do nothing. I am so disappointed with myself and tired. Tired of watching tv whole day, tired of having nothing to do, tired of basic conversations with wifes and girlfriends of my husband’s friends. Most of them are in mid twenties! And like me once, they think they hit a jackpot by marrying a rich men. I sometimes try to tell them to use the money and do something for themselves, but they are too busy with their spa appointments and shopping. I don’t blame them, I was the same and learnt my lesson much too late.

– But if you are 45 you still can do so much! – I told Carmen. – you can go to university or set up your own business.

– No, I’m too old for that. And not working for so many years I have no idea about market requirements. My self esteem is low enough, I don’t want to experience one more failure. – she replied.

– I don’t know. I am sure there is still time to do something meaningful. It’s better to try than to regret, isn’t it?

– Maybe – she said when the waiter brought our drinks. And she changed the subject. I felt that she didn’t want to continue this conversation. Instead she told me to go to La Boqueria market later to try all the different specialities from Spanish cuisine.

We sat a bit longer talking about traveling and enjoying the chocolate. It was delicious, warm and so thick that you could almost cut it with a knife. I absolutely loved it.

Later I went to the market and tried so many scrumptious things like tortillas, sausages, seafood and sweets. The market was crowded but the symphony of colours and smells was delightful. However I couldn’t stop thinking about Carmen. I felt bad for her, her disappointment and sadness. Yet I truly believe it’s never too late to change and start something new.

Oh, Grandma, each day I am more grateful that you’ve sent me on that journey.

Lots of love,

Kate

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