Sense of shame is one of the few things that distinguishes humans from animals. For something so common among humans, the variety of underlying reasons is surprising. Sometimes it’s the fear of social judgement; some other times it’s the pursuit of internally defined moral goals. Whatever be the reason, the curse of Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit in garden of Eden has been propagated through generations in different forms across different geographies e.g. the West considered more shameless than India. And this shamelessness is more so visible in Spain.
Spain is flagrant and this flagrance seeps through each part of the Spanish culture, subtly and overtly. Most of the restaurants in Spain blatantly display pork as a strong signal of their religion — saying overtly that they are Christians and not Muslims or Jews. This practice is related to the Spanish Inquisition of the 1480s. Another ostentatious display of this boldness is the Chueca district of Madrid, which is among the most famous LGBT areas of Europe. As you walk through the streets, you are made passes at, thrown kisses at and greeted by sights of people expressing love similar to how Batman and Superman are, in the pic below.
For a capital, Madrid is very empty; Barcelona is where the action is. And while you would associate Barcelona with Spain, the people there associate themselves with only one identity — Catalan. The Catalan movement for secession is in full force, with banned flags hovering all over the balconies and protests for freedom becoming a frequent occurrence in Barca. Apart from Catalan, there is an insane craze for football and it almost doesn’t come as a surprise to see FCB’s logos even in a church! Truly, when it comes to Catalan or Football, Spain is shameless.
The most famous manifestation of Spain’s flagrance is probably the spectacular Gaudi architecture. Antoni Gaudi, the visionary that he was, conceptualized designs and styles that were centuries ahead of his time. The most momentous manifestation of his boldness is visible in Sagrada Familia, which is the best cathedral I have ever been to (and that includes Vatican)! On the first look, you are impressed by the curvilinear towers on the outside. As you go in, airiness of the cathedral, with its huge ceiling and aptly-spaced pillars captivates you. As you delve deeper, the natural colors that sunlight provides, through the colored windows, leave you spellbound.
Barcelona is known for its beaches and nightlife. And the enjoyment just doubles as you combine them both, partying in elite pubs like Schoko and Opium set by the beach, where hordes of youngsters come to have the rowdiest night of their lives. Luckily, that night got even rowdier because of the Halloween!
A calm amid all this turbulence was a road trip to Costa Brava. Costa Brava has a serene beach, which is also one of the most famous destinations for scuba-diving after ZNMD released. An even more pleasant find was the small town of Girona, which happens to be portrayed as the free city of Braavos in Game of Thrones. The cobbled stones and mammoth fort walls in its old town, with its sparse population, gave a distinct bucolic feel to it.
So Spain is a bold rebel, who protests, stomps its feet and tries to constantly break free from its shackles. And so is Barcelona. For Spain, those shackles are social but for Barca, political! Some shackles are meant to be broken, but who decides which ones?