Day 12 & 13: Barcelona, Karen and Dom’s road trip, Spain.

Two days in Barcelona is not enough – not enough to take in the vibrant city, the wealth of culture, the details of the streets and gardens, and the colour of the city squares…

And we also wanted to make the most of having a beach by the marina!

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Staying on the boat has been an experience, and there are several bars and restaurants in Port Forum, not to mention a kicking club to which the whole of Barcelona’s twenty-somethings throng. We fashionably demurred (each night) and had a glass of wine at a tapas bar before heading back to the boat. This time, we didn’t bring the super yacht so we’re slumming it a bit… no air-con… no space… but lots of added benefits like mosquitos, mosquitos and erm, did we mention the mosquitos? Currently, we’re battling it out over who has the most bites. Dom has 16 including one each on most of his toes, but Karen just pips him to the post with 17 in all. Blankety Blank cheque book and pen winging its way to the Savage. So our first top tips: Citronella is not effective on these hardy buggers, and prob best not to stay on a boat in August!

The trip from the port into town takes us through a wide area of the port, next to the natural history museum and this installation. Just the first of many artworks we see around the city.

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Once in the city we love the winding back streets, the little artisanal craft shops in the gothic quarter, and the pavement cafes in tree lined avenues. We spent ages in this art shop, Galeria Maxo, with its fantastic decor (including a train set running around the ceiling!) and quirky one-off pieces, which we couldn’t resist. Maxo himself is a really friendly proprietor and we’d say he has one of the coolest shops in the city!

And down the street, bits of graffiti remind us of Banksy:

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Carrer de la Princesa is also full of little independent shops, wine bars and less interesting souvenir shops. It’s not often that you see a shop dedicated to magic, founded in 1881, which curiously enough…

… is the same year that Pablo Picasso was born. And just around the corner, in Carrer Montcada, is the Picasso Museum – so we had to pop in.

The museum has oodles of paintings dating right back to when Picasso was in his teens, though his signature style doesn’t really emerge until the 1920s. It’s great (as it always is with art) to see the original works in their actual size – some of which were familiar, but many of which were new surprises to us. Perhaps the most exciting section of the gallery (for us) was his series of Las Meninas paintings, of which there are 58 in all. These are all the result of a 6-month intense study Picasso did of Velasquez’s painting Las Meninas:

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There are a whole series of different versions of the entire painting, and dozens of smaller paintings showing little details, like this one of the main girl.

Of course, Barcelona is not all about Picasso. Elsewhere, the city has countless other delights and lots of them related to other famous artists. The figure of Gaudi looms large, for example – you can hardly miss the Sagrada Familia, though with its torrents of tourists we took a few snaps and strolled on.

It wasn’t long before we found a side-street, a plate of tapas and a friendly waitress with a bottle of vino blanco. Well, it’s what we do best.

It could have been a difficult time to be a tourist in Barcelona, yet the vibrancy, the people and the spirit of the city are so strong, it’s showed us very clearly that, although this is a city in mourning, it is also a city full of culture, soul and freedom.

Like any of the world’s great cities, you can’t do it all in a couple of days. But we’ll definitely be back before long. Viva Barcelona!

 

 

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