Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 120. Barcelona

I have been a brave little tourist today. I left the car back in the campground and took the bus, and for 1.30 euros for the way into the city, and 5.50 euros for the day pass, I used every possible bus and metro (plus several hundred miles of walking) to look at the many facets of this fabulous city. Fabulous it is, and I am only sorry that I am not a “city fan”. Honestly, after escaping Mexico City and Los Angeles, I am baffled by the notion of anyone wanting to live in a city. But if you have to live piled one on top of each other, Barcelona would not be a bad place to live. The old downtown is 2,000 years old and it looks like it, with a web of narrow streets separating tall buildings (5 to 10 stories high being not bad for a 200 year old building), from which you could literally exchange kisses from one balcony to the other (remind me to tell you about kissing in Europe).

Dommage that today is Monday, which means ALL museums are closed. I am sorry about the Picasso museum, which I really wanted to visit, but outside of that the offer is much more than I could really handle (or afford), so it is all for the better.

Highlights? La Rambla is definitely a blast. It is the big promenade that everyone in Barcelona walks up and down, including poor tourists dragging their luggage behind them like so many other puppy dogs. Then we have the Medieval portion of the city, the Malecon or boardwalk, the monumental plazas, the nice lunch (salpicon de mariscos and cazuela de callos; don’t ask, you don’t want to know what callos are), and Gaudí. You have of course heard of the expression “gaudy”, but I bet you didn’t know that it originated on a Catalan architect, who must have definitely been on drugs, and in business, between 1895 and 1930. Gaudí is the most famous son of Barcelona, and left behind a wide variety of avant-garde looking buildings, parks, and public buildings. He was undoubtedly an artist in the true sense of the word, but to my untrained eyes his work looks “gaudy”. La Sagrada Familia, is a “dripping” mass of rock and concrete, way too large for the small space allotted for it, and the Güell Gardens look like an artisans attempt at building a European chalet in Acapulco.

Other things include the most phallic building I have ever seen (torre Agbar in the first photograph), tons of beautiful gardens, and block after endless block of apartment buildings. I got the chance of seeing the old geezers playing “bolas criollas”, but the Spanish temperament is not quite like the French temperament in playing petanq. The bus system is great, and the metro is a marvel of efficiency. Yes, this is a great and beautiful city, and I am very glad I had the chance to visit it.

No comments: