Barcelona and Paris and Topless Beaches

I’m back in the Brooklyn Writers Space today, eating a four-day old Parisian almond croissant. It tastes goddamn amazing. I bet it’d be even better in a week. Did you know Paris baked goods age like wine? It’s true! Okay, maybe that’s nostalgia talking. The point is, I just got back from a seven day trip through Barcelona and Paris, and I learned the following bits of important information . . .

1. If I had the chance to spend a year anywhere I wanted outside of the US, I’d pick Barcelona.

Seriously, it’s beautiful and romantic and the weather’s perfect. The people are mellow. The churches are crazy old. The tapas and paella and wine are all the real deal. And there are NAKED WOMEN all over beaches of Barceloneta . . .

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You thought I was actually gonna show you naked people, didn’t you? Sorry, that would be rude. I will, however, show you the following “before” shot of the woman who sat directly in front of me for most of the day. She spent half her time applying baby oil. I thought baby oil was illegal in 2013. The ozone’s all screwed up, right? Ultraviolet rays are shooting down at us down, unimpeded. I kept waiting for ol’ girl to catch fire or something. But she never did. She just kept rubbing that stuff all over her body. Honestly, I’m not even sure why these European women bring their bikinis to the beach. They rip them off thirty seconds after spreading out their towel. Anyway, here’s my beach neighbor selecting her apparel a few minutes before trekking it to the beach . . .

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There were some younger naked people, too.

I guess it’s pretty American of me to be so taken aback by all the nakedness. But I kept thinking, Why didn’t this practice cross the Atlantic with Columbus? Who screwed this up for the 15-year-old version of me?

2. Donna Freitas is living the dream. C and I met up with her in El Born, my favorite neighborhood in Spain. Donna splits her time between Barcelona and Brooklyn. She writes her books with a view of this cool old church, Santa Maria del Mar, outside her bedroom window . . .

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Not too shabby, Donna.

3. Europeans are onto something with these cappuccinos. I know they’re on all the US menus, too, but I’ve never ordered one. Nobody else I know has either. It’s all lattes and mochas and caramel macchiatos. But Barcelona and Paris have officially converted me to the cappuccino. (And I’ve already discussed the wonderful aged pastries . . .)

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4. Despite the crowds, it feels pretty damn cool to cruise the narrow aisles of Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I had to buy a couple books so I could read them on a bench along the Seine, pretending I was a famous ex-pat novelist in the 20’s.

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5. Some old men in Paris have really good hair. Check this guy out. (Also, when he was finished eating, he casually reached across the table and held his lady’s hand in silence. Now, that’s what I call a straight-up pimp!)

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6. I’m confused my the Mona Lisa.

Folks flocked to this painting. Why? Because it’s so good? Or because we’re told it’s this big deal, crowning jewel of the Louvre? I need an art historian to clear this shit up for me ASAP. Here’s a shot of everyone surrounding poor Mona, tucked away in her glass case. She reminded me of a zoo animal . . .

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I much preferred this painting, which I have dubbed “Male Pattern Baldness” . . .

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This one, however, made me a bit uncomfortable (especially given my running commentary about the naked women on the beach in Barcelona) . . .

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7. I love vacation. But I love coming back home even more. I missed my cat. And my laptop. And my writers space. Can’t wait to get back to my work-in-progress!

PS . . . 64 days until THE LIVING hits bookstores.

The Living - one arm w wave and birds