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A Literary Adventure Through Barcelona

April 24, 2015

Last weekend I got to travel to Barceloan, España, the city in which my favorite novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón takes place. The first day in Barcelona, one of my roommates Jamie and myself walked around and got a feel for the city. We saw the Arc de Triomph (the Barcelona edition), Las Ramblas, and spent some time enjoying the 73 degree whether at the Barceloneta beach. We spent the following day doing the typical touristy Barcelona things--Parc Güell and the Sagrada Familia to name the big two. Finally on the third day, after a brief stint of rain and paying a whopping 7.50 euro diet coke (unreal), Jamie headed back to the hostel to do a bit of studying, and I embarked on a walking tour of all of the locations in The Shadow of the Wind.

Starting at the Calle Arco del Teatro, the location for the fictional "Cemetery of Forgotton Books" where the story begins, I wove my way through the streets of Barcelona. 


"I followed my father through that narrow lane, more of a scar than a street, until the glimmer of the Ramblas faded behind us. The brightness of dawn filtered down from the balconies and cornices in streaks of slanting light that dissolved before touching the ground" 

After seeing the site of the Cemetery of Forgotten books, I made my way to the Els Quatre Gats, an actual restaurant in the Raval quarter of Barcelona. The Els Quatre Gats is the site of many lunches and chance encounters in the novel, and during its prime was famously frequented by many Spanish artists, even hosting one of the first shows of Pablo Picasso. 


After seeing the cafe, I ambled along to the street where the main characters live and own a book shop, Sempere & Sons. The street is the Calle de Santa Ana, a real street in Barcelona. I walked along the street mentally invisioning which building could have been the location of the fictional bookshop. 


After the Calle Santa Ana the next stop was the Barcelona Cathedral, impressive, but very different than the Sagrada Familia. It is the meeting point of two characters in the book that shapes the story line, who met and fell in love on the steps of the Cathedral.

Getting to walk the streets of my favorite literary characters was an amazing experience, and one that I still can't believe I actually had.The Shadow of the Wind has been my favorite book since 8th grade (that was 7 years ago), and I've been dreaming about going to Barcelona ever since. The city is enchanting, full of surprise turns and winding streets, each unique in their own way. 


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