Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Barcelona: Your Cool Kid Sibling...

... if they had an unfortunate predisposition towards bad mullet-like hairdos. And yes, this includes the ladies.

Our initial impression of Barcelona was so-so; a ton of noise and basic chaos was our first impression as we tried to get around town and get settled in after the trip in. However once we settled in we found a vibrant city with a distinctly bohemian feel. The night booms with restaurants, bars and clubs packed with Spaniards who embrace the nightlife culture. The streets are filled with music shops, too-hip-for-us clothing stores and the like. And on the Ramblas and in the squares, we encountered some of the best street performers and human statues we have seen on the trip. Like the title of the post suggests, Barcelona for me is like the cool hipster sibling that makes you feel like you're about 10 years older than you are.

Despite the age difference, we had a great time in Barcelona. We spent our first day touring the various works of Antoni Gaudi. My favorite however had to be the Sagrada Familia. Started by Gaudi´as his last major project in 1883, it continues to be worked on to this day. Since work on the project is funded only by private donations and entry fees, experts predict that it will be another 50 years before the church is complete. You can love or hate the architecture involved (I personally really liked the spires (the eight completed representing 2/3 of the apostles) and the Nativity Facade, the only part to be competed during Gaudi´'s lifetime.

The most amazing part to me about the Sagrada Familia is the fact that it's history happening right in front of our eyes. After going into a HUGE number of churches so far (and yes, we haven't hit Italy yet) that took 100-150 years to build, there is something strangely satisfying about seeing one just like it in progress. Hopefully in 50 years people will be admiring the finished product and in 150 people will be enjoying the site much like we've enjoyed others on our trip.

The next morning we spent touring the Picasso museum. As someone who only knew Picasso from his "wacked out blocky" paintings (aka Cubism) that museum was a real eye-opener. We were able to follow Picasso's rise from child prodigy (he started painting serious works at 12) to his eventual progression to Cubism. The chronological procession allows you to see how truly talented the artist was and how despite the distinct difference between some of his paintings his development as an artist was a progressive one over time.

From one creative outpouring to another: Becca and I spent the afternoon touring Camp Nou, home of Barcelona's major football team, FC Barcelona. We decided that since we keep missing the matches themselves, touring a stadium here or there is a trip approved activity. The tour itself was self guided and nothing out of the ordinary for a club of this size (though the team shop did it's best to overwhelm our senses with their away pistachio day-glo jerseys...). Well maybe the leather seats for the teams on the bench... The most memorable part of the field trip was the kind older gentleman who after we got off the metro looked at us and asked "futbol?" We nodded and next thing we knew he'd gotten us through the tough part of the directions to the stadium (with his handy hand drawn map), given me a slap on the back and headed off into the afternoon. A random act of kindness to say the least but much appreciate by the wife and myself.

Evenings were spent enjoying the nightlife, filling ourselves up mightily at the various tapas bars (both fru-fru and down-home) and just enjoying the vibrant culture that pulsates through Barcelona. We highly recommend it to folks making the trip to EspaƱa and plan on going back ourselves next week on our way back north through Spain to check out the Olympic sites, the marina area, and other things we didn't have any time to hit on the first time through.


A couple more Barcelona views: the market, the harbor skyline, and MEAT


Anonymous said...

When can I meet up with you and check out the sites (sights)? New Zealand??


Anonymous said...

as with Picasso, the same is true with Dali...

while people know him for the melting clocks bit... some earlier stuff, which is still a bit psychodelic, is really interesting and shows the incredible talent he had... of course appreciation and what I like can be very different things.

btw - loved the bullfight post, very interesting