Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Barcelona - Ancient Elevators and Bird-Woman-Sun Sculptures

Our apartment in Barcelona turned out to be a real find. In the Eixample District, I knew it was close to several important sights but had no idea it was actually right next to Casa Mila, one of the most famous buildings by Gaudi, the premier moderneste architect. Our apartment is lovely and consists of two bedrooms, two baths, a small kitchen, and a living room with a balcony overlooking a small courtyard. The apartment is on the second floor and the building has the most adorable little elevator we’ve ever seen. It looks like something straight out of an old European movie.

I finally settle down to do some serious tourist planning. There is quite a lot to see in Barcelona and no way to see it all so we need to make some choices and figure out what we want to do and how to do it. On Friday I decide we should go see the Joan Miro Museum on Montjuic. We take the speedy Barcelona Metro and then the Funicular up the mountain to the museum. We both enjoyed it, but it didn’t really “grab” either of us. Milo’s pictures and designs reminded us of the Tim Burton exhibit in New York, but we both felt like Burton was “deeper” somehow. I decided the Milo really was the inventor of a particularly whimsical style of modern art. When I thought of him as the “first” one to do this kind of modern art it made his pictures and sculptures more interesting. But as Lee said, he kind of took the theme “bird, woman, sun, bird, woman, sun” and put it together over and over again.

We wandered down the hillside, half lost, and came out at the bottom of the grand staircase that leads up to the National Museum. I wanted to see Milo’s giant woman and bird (yes again) sculpture. By the time we found it we were ready to sit at the first café we could find and eat something. Spanish pizza is passable but probably not what we should be eating in Barcelona.

After an afternoon siesta we chose a nearby paella restaurant for dinner. This was a funny experience. First of all, a table with two noisy disobedient children sat nearby. Once I had had a glass of wine I didn’t mind their antics that much and it really was sort of amusing watching a couple of Spanish four-year-olds get the better of their distracted parents. The parents ate paella and drank wine; the children ate French fries and threw them at each other, laughing hysterically. Eventually one of the wild ones got a “poch on the tukus” as my grandmother would have said and then seemed to quiet both of them down.

Our waiter really, really, really wanted us to try the fish, and convinced us that the paella was really too much for just two people. He was right; the fish was fresh and amazing. He talked me into a baked apple for dessert too. We struck up a conversation with the people at the next table. I couldn’t figure out what language they were speaking (it was Dutch), so I asked them where they were from. Their teenager was about to go be a US exchange student so we told them a little bit about US high school students and what to expect.

The next day we were off to the Barri Gotic, the oldest part of Barcelona. Beautful twisty ancient steets led to a huge Gothic cathedral and eventually the biggest food market in the Mediterranean. We bought cherries, nuts, very fresh tomatoes and wandered from stand to stand, feeling overwhelmed. We bought a ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette to share and a coke light for me and a beer for Lee revived us.

We went back to our quieter neighborhood, had a coffee at a café and bought lunch goodies at a nearby deli. Now we’re back having another siesta before we go out for a little more touring and tapas tonight.

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