Today, I arrived in Barcelona. It’s not my first time but it has been a long time.
Today, the salty fresh summer spills across the sand and onto the crowded boardwalks. Bright cotton dresses and shirtless denim shorts skate, stroll and cycle along the coast, while the sparkle of street-cafe glasses glitter like fireworks in the day.
It seems a far cry from my last time, when icy winds stormed along Las Ramblas and the chill of winter settled over Passeig de Gracia.
It seems even further from my first time. Back then, the landmark Sagrada Familia was covered in scaffolding. I was still a student and my brothers were children not yet in High School.
This weekend, I’m meeting the eldest one in Barcelona to celebrate his graduation.
How things change.
Along the seafront, two women ignore the crowds. They flick their hair behind their ears and focus on two things: a limp piece of paper in one hand, a metal trowel in the other. They’re sculpting sand for a special – and temporary – exhibition.
The sand musicians that surround them look stable. Real. Permanent. Yet like everything else, of course, they will change and the next time I return to Barcelona both they and I will be different again.
There’s only one real constant in this city – and that’s the Sagrada Familia.
Beautiful, gothic, imaginative and haunting. It remains each one of those things.
It also, I notice, remains covered in scaffolding.
Disclosure: I’m in Barcelona today as a guest of Costa Brava
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com