Barcelona (June 5, 2013)

Familia Sagrada, what a wonderful phrase!  Herein lie a ludicrous number of pictures.
Last night’s late excitement and Eric’s overnight fever meant we were pretty groggy in the morning. But Eric was feeling enough better by the time we awoke that he was game to go adventuring. We bought entrance tickets to Sagrada Familia for the 5pm-7pm block, and tickets to climb the tower at 6:45, and planned our day accordingly. We headed out to MACBA, but discovered that we were too hungry to go museuming first.

So we went back to the restaurant we ate in the first day, and had more crispy-cheese salad, and some amazing sashimi salmon thing served on endive leaves with miso and lime, and something like a cross between puff pastry and flatbrod, covered in a catalunyan smoked vegetable ragout and smothered in slices of boucheron. And a glass of rose for me.

Then we headed in the direction of the museum, and got distracted by a beautiful little store selling ceramics — many of them whimsical little figurines, but also beautiful tileworks. I fell in love with some models of doors very much like the one I’d bought in Dubrovnik and broken when I moved out of Andor. Eric and I decided on another one that I love very much, and will go over the stove (which we’d been looking for a nice set of art nouveau tiles for, and this will be even better). So then we had to go deliver that home, and THEN go to the museum.


I’ve never seen vines trained quite like that before.

Fortunately (?!) the museum was a complete bust. I wish I knew the terminology that would help me distinguish curators whose taste in contemporary art is similar to mine, and ones which are not. This was almost 100% not-for-s. I might have gotten more out of it with a more extensive art analysis background but… there was almost nothing I found remotely aesthetic, interesting as they might have been conceptually with the right context. When we went to leave we noticed it was pouring (which was surprising, given that it hadn’t been supposed to rain at all). Fortunately, it ended quickly and stayed dry the rest of the afternoon.

We decided to try to see Palau Guell with the hole in our afternoon schedule. Which we did, though I was mostly underwhelmed. Gaudi just isn’t for me, 90% of the time. But Eric enjoyed himself, and there were several things about the building I did like.


Ironwork in the gates.


The basement had a gigantic spiral ramp, not a staircase.

 
A parabolic dome.


An exceedingly elaborate and busy ceiling.


Probably my favorite thing in the house: straight-up representational Art Nouveau.

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I did enjoy the chimney designs (particularly the lizard and ceramic rope).

Then we made our way to Sagrada Familia (“Familia sagrada — what a wonderful phrase! Familia Sagrada — ain’t no passing phrase!)

This side of the outside was just… not for me. At all. I like things from each of the aesthetic movements he was drawing from, but not THOSE pieces, and definitely not assembled in THOSE ways.


Although I did enjoy the cubist/abstract takes on the classic themes.


And this door was awesome.

Fortunately, the interior was much more to my taste.

I’ve seen a million pictures of it, and mine will look exactly the same, and it really just doesn’t capture the immensity of the space and the quality of the light.


I know that the contrast of the clear and the stained glass is actually because the cathedral is still not finished, and that it will all be stained glass eventually. But its current state made me very happy.


The whole building is full of very odd almost jarring contrasts. Some of them work, some of them… don’t, to my eye.


But the ceiling is amazing.


No, really amazing. click to embiggen. It still doesn’t capture the dizzying feeling of being in the space. It’s BIG.

 

Then we climbed the tower. Actually, in deference to Eric’s lungs, we took the lift.


It’s turtles all the way down.


Does every major european city now have their own modernist erection?


Hallo!

Then we went to the basement chapel, which is a very striking contrast to the moderniste aesthetic of the rest of the cathedral.

And then we headed to dinner. This was our best chance to try Paella, so I hit up chowhound and found a place near our evening’s destination that had good paella. And in fact, it was amazing, and quite different from any american paella I’d had. The seafood was kind of intimidating, but tasty, and I loved the crunchy rice bits on the bottom of the pot (like you get with bibimbap).

Then it was time to head to the Palau Musica for the evening’s flamenco concert. The Palau is the most amazing art nouveau building I may have ever seen (I guess I get to back to Prague and compare!) and I took a million pictures and am considering going back tomorrow for the tour.


I’ve never seen glass “structural” columns like this before!

  

 

And the flamenco was very impressive, despite peering down at it from directly above (given our seats). I’m still not fond of the flamenco-music style of singing (which I was reminded someone once compared to someone with their testicles in a vise), but I’m glad to have seen an authentic version of the performance in such a gorgeous space.


Also, a pony.