12.3 Edition

What I Did Last Week Barcelona Edition 3

Every Friday, I write this newsletter, which shares what I’m doing personally and what I’m doing professionally.

read time 6 minutes

What’s more decedent and indulgent than unwrapping a piece of dark melt-in-your-mouth chocolate on a Thursday night? 

Opera in Barcelona on a Thursday night.

I got here from New York on a 7am Delta flight Tuesday.

Once I got through the haze of exhaustion and alternating insomnia, I bought a cheapie 38 euro ticket to the opera. So I could do as Craig Storti counsels in “Why Travel Matters.”


Last night, the Palau de la Musica Catalana, host to many things music, was hosting a tribute to opera legend Maria Callas. 

I’m always dressed like the world is ending, which is unfortunate because its incredibly warm in Gaudí s city. 61 degrees. I was roasting in my New York boots as I made my way there.

As with most opera houses, it’s better to make one trip to see the actual house.

And a separate trip to see the actual opera.

Outside of Palau de la Musica Catalana Palau de la Musica Catalana Staircase Inside of Palau de la Musica Catalana

The inside of the Palau is a fun jewel box. 

Constructed in the early 1900s by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, it’s a veritable homage to Catalan heritage.

  • Fat, cartoonish shapes

  • Vegetal fleur de lis

  • Walls washed in bright orange

  • Oversized sculptures jutting out of unexpected places

  • Mosaic tile

  • Paint and stucco

An old boyfriend introduced me to opera in 2005. I had always been more ‘Verdi’ than ‘Van Halen.’

The attendant pointed me to the very last seat of the very last row of the theater. 

“The Secret Row” he said.

Two sopranos, a mezzosoprano, and an orchestra regaled the audience with recognized songs from recognized operas.

Raven-haired and dressed in green sequins and red for the holiday.

Belting out Duo des fleurs.

Their voices grabbed me by the jugular even in the rafters, last row, and forced me to sit up straight. 

When I was young I played the piano.

It was a medium I could pour myself into.

My performance piece was Chopin. Nocturne in E flat major. Opera 9.

Tonight brought me back to childhood.

It was beautiful and lovely.

Just like unwrapped chocolate.

What I did last week (Barcelona edition)

Pinch me. I get to live this life. And I created it all.

Tuesday. I checked into my beautiful Barcelona Airbnb. I looked up my vision board. I keep it in digital version on my desk top. The French doors were exactly like my picture. Dinner was at a quiet Enrique Tomas next door.

Wednesday. I walked the 20 minutes in the rain, for an 8am yoga class at Sinchronia Yoga. I was pleased to see the streets full of life, even in the dark. Afterwards, I dipped in for a jamon sandwich and 2 coffees. The waiter was wearing a Brooklyn, New York sweatshirt.

I’m here to host what I call my VIP days with my US client. Why Barcelona? Taking women out of their comfort zone, creates the white space needed to do this brand of deep thinking. Fresh ideas bubble up.

We are working on her TEDtalk and thought leadership.

A main reason for my arriving ahead of her is to do quality assurance. I checked out a women’s only co work space called Juno House, for quiet levels.

“I may work too much” I thought, as I interviewed a woman for my upcoming article in a magazine later in the day.

There are times I feel like Stanley Tucci from Devil Wears Prada. He exclaims “I want to come to Paris–and actually SEE Paris” referencing Wintour’s unrelenting work ethic, foisted upon him. So much so, that he can’t see the city while there.

Thursday. I got a coffee with a colleague who moved to Spain 7 years ago. 5 books later, he’s bought a home here and hopes his children don’t elect to go to American colleges.

That walk took me past retail heaven.

I am in danger of buying everything in the Massimo Dutti store, truly. But I escaped with just this sequined tank for the holidays and this wool lady jacket. I’ve had my eye on it online for a very long time. 

I dipped into the wonderful and captivating Maria Castana for a rioja before the opera.

THIS is what I came to Barcelona for.

Locals lingering over iberica ham, wine and the conversation of the day. I may go back again tonight.

The waitress didn’t understand my question. An obliging guest next to me, leaned in to translate. ‘She wants to know which one you like.”

I know ‘gusta’ means ‘like.’

Friday. I’m sitting here in beautiful Soho House Barcelona, overlooking the water in the Gothic Barrio, writing this to you. I came here to check the levels of quiet before my client arrives. We are doing her strategy sprints in the library-like “Marina Club” as the staff teeters on ladders and puts up the holiday regalia around us.

What am I looking forward to

SO much

The next three days are devoted to my client here in Barcelona. We are visiting the spa (Aire Baths Barcelona) doing a private tour of the St. Paul’s Hospital with Jordana. It’s architecturally magnificent and a germaine given her work in healthcare. Peppered into the cultural experiences, are our strategy sprints at Soho House, working on her TEDTalk and thought leadership.

Mid week. Matt and my friends arrive on a jet aeroplane.

Since 2017, I have had the restaurant El Cellar de Can Roca on my vision board. What I would wear. Where I would stay.

Owned by the 3 Roca Brothers, El Cellar consistently ranks #1 on the list of the World’s Best Restaurants.

It’s also why I can’t get in.

The online booking system would flash, “Booking for Spring of next year” whenever I would log in. My friend Jane said, “So, just put your name on the wait list. When they say ‘yes,’ we will go.'”

This year. January. They said, ‘yes.’

We take the high speed train 38 minutes to the town of Girona for this glorious moment. Milestone moment.

It only took 6 years.

and my 51st birthday.

Joya speaking in public

In my Mastermind. I’m teaching you to tell better stories about yourself. Do you have a message to say? but unsure on how to amplify it? build your brand?

I’ll teach you in my Mastermind starting on January 20th, 2024? I’m currently enrolling and only enroll once a year.

If this sounds good to you, put the word “Interested” in the subject line in an email to me ,joya@joyadass.com> and I’ll get back to you with more details.

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