I’ve discovered Barcelona on the bicycle; riding up and down the city, after work, in the nice temperature, was my rebirth. My first months as a Romanian immigrant in Spain were nothing but strange due to various reasons. Having decided, though, not to give up, I launched in a quest to get to know my new home town.
I knew nothing about it and had no internet on the phone back then which would have let me identify what I was looking at. I carried around with me a very crumpled map and a phone with a somehow accurate camera.
One afternoon, from the bicycle lane, waiting for the traffic light to become green again, I saw it: a big owl, shining in the sun. It was love at first sight! I starred at it, took a picture of it, tried to imagine its story and, eventually, left. Since then, every time I was in the neighbourhood (the owl is close to Sagrada Familia, at the corner of Diagonal with Passeig de Sant Joan) I stopped to say ‘hello’.
After some years, I moved into the neighbourhood and had the chance to see the owl almost every day, when coming from the office. It made me smile, as usual; I use to stare at it, thinking that I should research to see why it is there and eventually head for home.
The strong wind blew its glassy yellow eyes off. Sad, sad owl! As I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t believe anyone will fix it.
Until one evening, at dusk, while the city lights were being turned on, the owl winked at me. We already had a strong connection, but this was too much! I starred at it for minutes in a row, trying to see what trick was it up to. And yet, it was true: the restored metal owl in front of the Jacint Verdaguer monument, with its new yellow glassy eyes, was now winking.
At present, we have an even closer relationship, me and the owl, as I know its background. In the ’70ies, it used to be an advertisement sign for Rótulos Roura (Roura Labels), a company producing urban publicity support (it closed its Catalan plant in July 2013). Now, its good shape is due to the owner of the building, who takes care of it since 2004, when the law demanded the removal of all neon signs around the city. I found about its family story from here and here.