Ok.  I so know that I am going to get spammed now by other less savoury blog sites touting “services”.  But this is not what this blog is.  However, it did get your attention, didn’t it?  Really, this is about a day at the beach.  Nothing more.  So, if suddenly this is not interesting, well, stop reading.

Barcelona has lovely beaches, though I’m not sure whether all of it is a natural beach, or developed since the Olympics in 1992.  Many of the beaches were protected with sea walls.  The beach was not pebbly, but I do not know whether they imported the sand in, or not.  We walked to a beach that is not far from our hotel.  From the beach, you can see all the way down to Barcelonetta and the main port.  If you have the opportunity, it’s worthwhile hiring a bike and cycling.  The beaches were lovely and calm – protected by sea walls.  Sadly, we have no pictures as we did not bring our camera with us for fear of theft.

Hubby and son went to build sandcastles, whilst I sat on the sand people-watching.  What I noticed is that there seemed to be some rules to beach bathing.

One basic rule of sun-tanning in Barcelona is to get a spot as close to the water as possible.  You need to be within a stone’s throw of the water, so that you don’t have to walk far to wet yourself and then come back to your towel to bake some more.  Forget about the fact that there is tons of white sandy beach more than a stone’s thrwo from the water line.  No, what all sunbakers are aiming for is to create a strip of people sunbaking exactly along the water line.

Also, forget about personal space.  A metre between you and the next stranger is just fine.  However, if you’ve got an umbrella, make sure it’s shade doesn’t land in someone else’s sun.  That would be very rude indeed, and people might become very unhappy with you.

In terms of beach umbrellas, there seems to be many types on the Mediterranean market.  You have “anchors” that you just stick in the sand, and then stick your umbrella into the slot.  It could be a bit unstable, so you might want to watch out that your brolly doesn’t fall over with the next gust of wind.  Then, there are other anchors that looked like it had a bit more “technology” to it.  You screw the anchor into the sand, much like a cork screw, and then you have a much more stable foundation to stick your brolly in, making it less likely that it will fall over.

Next rule.  Forget about being body conscious.  I mean, even if you don’t have a super model body, don’t worry.  Show it off.  Men had beer guts the size of which, I hadn’t seen in ….. well, I just hadn’t seen.  And women – yes, there were super model young chickadees there sunbaking, too.  But somehow they were more acceptable (to me) in their slim, taut bodies, than the fifty (or more) year old women taking their top off.  (Please, I do not wish to be descriptive.)  Ok, so I get it it’s conditioning.  Perhaps I’m just used to the glossy mag beach babe image.

If you’re really up for it, walk up and down the beach and show off your assets whilst enjoying the beach and the sunshine, just like that much older woman I saw.  (Sigh, it was a lot of information of what my body is going to do when I hit that age.  I was a bit depressed.)  Or, if you’re 9 months pregnant and want to really get into that home birthing experience before the home birth, go swimming in the Mediterranean topless, so that everyone gets a chance to check out your linea nigra and whether baby has actually dropped, and whether your breasts look ready for breast feeding.

The trouble is, I wanted to avert my eyes (coz my mother taught me that it was rude to stare, and I really didn’t want to come across as a perv).  Yet, because it’s a scene that accosted my senses and I was slightly gobsmacked at their  complete freedom.  A typical conversation in my head went something like this:  Did I see what I just saw?  Check. Yes.  No, really?  Check again.  Yes I did see what I just saw.  Okay, I’m a prude, so sue me.

Whilst many women sunbathed topless, not everyone took their top off, so that’s okay too. It’s just that if you’re not used to it, it might be a bit confronting.

I had to have a conversation with my son though, and explain it to him that this was just what the Europeans did.  It was perfectly natural to them, and they don’t really think twice about it.  Afterall, in a country where you wear a lot of sun dresses and strappy clothes, there really is nothing worse than a tan line.  He was okay with that.  But not okay, when I suggested that I might like to give topless sunbathing a go, in order to do something different.  Then, it was “Eeeeeeewwwwww” and “gross” and “I don’t want to be seen with you”!

In any event, we didn’t get that far. I was simply happy to stay within my comfort zone.