Barcelona: Normal is Relative


“Be safe!” People used to send each other off with those words after every gathering. I recall them in a more innocent time. Today the words take on a more ominous meaning.

Safety has always been a relative thing. I once felt safe walking through San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Donna had serious doubts. We were about a half mile in when a denizen of the district decided it was a good time to urinate. He was standing next to Donna at a crosswalk. Donna gave me a piercing glare and stomped on ahead. Street hardened men caught the look in her eye, and then looked at me with heartfelt pity. They wouldn’t have traded places with me for anything.

After the terrorist attack in Barcelona there was never a hint that we should reconsider our trip. If anything our thinking was that heightened vigilance was going to be a given. Barcelona would be one of the safest places in the world to visit.

When we arrived at the Barcelona airport we didn’t notice anything different. It was the same security protocol we experienced last year. We did notice subtle differences during our brief stay in the Born District. Uniformed officers were more visible. Moveable metal barriers were casually placed. Spaniards were not letting any of this interfere with the living of their lives though.

When we returned to Barcelona in mid-September to get Donna’s tooth fixed we joined the Sunday crowds on the Rambla. The Rambla was where the terrorist attack occurred.  Tourists were the only ones who seemed to be noting this. They were taking photos of key locations, and discussing the event in French, German, English, and Dutch. Then they joined everyone else in shopping, eating at sidewalk cafes, and heading down to the beach.


A new level of security was visible though. Police cars were strategically parked to make it difficult for a vehicle to enter the pedestrian promenade. There were officers visible at key intersections. There was heightened vigilance, but fear wasn’t being injected into daily life.

There wasn’t a marker to commemorate the event. In Barcelona the sentiment seems to be, “If terrorism makes us change the way we live, the terrorists have won.” After the train attack in England security at the train station was tightened up. Quite simply, business as usual meant adjusting to changing circumstances.

What is our overall feeling? We love Barcelona just as much as we did the first time around. The Born still feels like our stomping ground. Donna got clothes from David Valls’ again. We had a fine dining experience at l’lamber. Little Italy is still a cozy little bistro, and they’ve added live jazz. We finally ate at Barestaurant L’Univers in Mercato Santa Caterina. You choose market fresh fish, and they cook it right in front of you. What’s not to love?

Donna’s tooth? Dr. Victor Cambra performed miracles in his sleek modern office. I sat at his large polished wooden desk and observed the procedures. An assistant made an espresso for me. Donna expected to leave dentist’s office wearing the dreaded “flipper”. She left with her implant expertly repaired. The bill was only 180 euros! The espresso was on the house!!!

Normal is relative. I could get used Barcelona!

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