Barcelona smells. It really stinks. If Patrick Suskind were to ever write a follow up to Perfume then the labyrinthine streets of Barcelona’s Old Town would make the perfect setting for his sequel. As distinctive as much as it is unpleasant, Barcelona’s unique odour is so characteristic that my friend once claimed she could tell if someone had just arrived from the Catalan capital, because she could still smell the city on their skin. And I believe her.
How best to describe the cocktail of BCN’s heady bouquet? I’d say it is two parts brine, one part rank garbage bags left vegetating on the street, another part the stench of city drains, two parts wafts of tangy marijuana, a sprinkling of oniony kebab remains, and three parts urine intermingled with sooty pavement filth, vaporised by the heat (the natural result you might say of failing to provide any public toilets anywhere in the city). ‘Eau de la Ciudad’ probably won’t be making it to the Chanel laboratories any time soon.