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Bridget Gleeson Travel Writer

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Woody Allen’s Barcelona: fact or fiction?

This isn’t my first time in the Catalonian capital – it’s one of my favorite cities. But until this week I thought that the leafy settings of Vicky Christina Barcelona were just another of the director’s urban fantasies.

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After all, the New York, Paris, Venice and London of Woody Allen’s films are staggeringly beautiful and often downright deceptive – especially in his later works. In Manhattan, at least, we get a feeling for the city’s trash and noise pollution, the sidewalks, the creepy guys hanging around the park at four in the morning. But look at the London of Match Point. Despite the dark theme, the city is a golden utopia where the museums aren’t crowded, everyone is gorgeous and there’s a cozy table for two always available at the corner pub.

So anyway, when I saw Vicky Christina Barcelona, I thought – okay, fine, Barcelona is wonderful, but no one lives in a peaceful cottage in the city like Javier Bardem’s character. Too good to be true, right?

Wrong. We’ve spent a few nights at a house that looks just like it.

My boyfriend’s cousin Marcelo, one-time anthropologist and now the owner of two bars in Barceloneta, invited us. I’m here to tell you that his house has a tree-shaded backyard with a pool, fruit trees, a gigantic Great Dane named Urco, and – here’s what really gets me – it’s a ten-minute drive from the center. This drive involves hairpin mountain roads offering breathtaking views over the Mediterranean. You heard it here. The house of Javier Bardem’s character is an actual possibility.

Somehow this fact makes me delighted and dejected at the same time.