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Why I would return to Barcelona by Pia Padukone


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Parc GüellHow easy it was to linger away an afternoon over delicate plates of glistening chorizo and the free-flowing, mouth-filling juicy wine, and the architecture, oh, the architecture. I was in love. But on our 6th day together, I broke it off. He flew home, promising to be friends.

I distracted myself for a few days with the Dali Museum in Figueres and long rambling scrawls in my journal from the rib-like tunnels of Parc Güell, before flying home and vowing to return. Which I did, with my next boyfriend. Perhaps my fatal flaw was that we did many of the same things I did the first time around, but when you’re in Barcelona, how can you not hike to the haunting, gothic summit of La Sagrada Familia? Not ramble through Las Ramblas? Not sample pickled baby octopus at El Mercat de la Boqueria? Not spend your last romantic evening as the lights twinkle around you in the highest restaurant in the city, Torre D’Alta Mar?

“Wouldn’t it be romantic,” I purred, in a drunken Rioja haze. “To move here? With the hills flanking you on one side and the beach flirting on the other? I want to do that one day.” Apparently my boyfriend didn’t. We broke up that night. I returned home to New York City, rejected, morose, but mostly desperate for the city where my heart had been broken twice. “You have a Barcelona Curse,” a friend said. “Have you learned your lesson yet? Don’t return there with someone you love.”

I love this city more than I loved those two men, even though it was in their company that I was charmed by the sultry heartbreakers I encountered in the tiny meandering streets of the Barri Gótic district. They clinked my glasses before flute after flute of cava, ducking into countless tapas bars whenever our throats were parched. But my love of Barcelona was stronger.

I’ve been with another man for nearly 4 years now. He is the one; I know this. But he can hardly stand it when Barcelona comes up and my eyes glisten, my mouth waters and I start another tale of my lost love. He wants to go with me. He’s asked me numerous times, and I’ve continued to turn him down. Because I’ve wanted to protect us. But perhaps the third man is the charm, as he has told me repeatedly. I’m slowly weakening: it’s been nearly five years since my last visit and I need a recharge.

This time will be different. This time, I’m stronger. I can’t wait to stand on the cracked linoleum of the cramped shop where the hunched-over old man filled up my churros paper cone twice, three times, on the house. I can’t wait to taste the tangy sauce of patatas bravas on my tongue. I can’t wait to feel the wind whip through my tangled hair on the ferris wheel in Tibidabo. I can’t wait to slip my feet into some custom-made espadrilles in bright, brazen colors.

Most of all, I can’t wait to do this all with the new man in my life. I can’t wait to break the Barcelona curse.

Story written by Pia Padukone | **This short Travel Story was submitted as part of the Holiday Travel Writing Competition. All short-listed entries such as this one are published in our online Travel Guide**

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