Barcelona, Spain – June 6, 2012
The train departed Madrid, Spain, bound for Barcelona at about 08:30. It will be my final trip during this tour, maybe my last trip ever to Barcelona. I have been very fortunate to have made some dozen or so trips to Barcelona while living in Spain.
My stay in Barcelona is for three days and two nights. Once again, my hotel of choice was the Le Méridien on La Rambla. I have not yet decided what I will do after hours. I feel like I have seen and done nearly everything, but I am sure I will think of something.
I arrived at the hotel at about 17:00. By 17:30 I checked-in, bought a bottle of wine, some cheese, and some pistachios. That would ultimately be my dinner because I had a large lunch that day.
When I left the hotel, I grabbed a red apple. I decided to head toward the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MAC BA). I at the apple as I walked. Part of why I chose to go there was because the hotel provided a complimentary entry ticket.
I am thrilled the ticket was gratis. People say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, this beholder did not see a great deal of beauty. To be fair, several exhibits were closed because they were either being assembled or disassembled.
Regardless, on three floors of exhibit space, I did not see one item that appealed to me. The other “strike” against the museum was the fact that it does not allow photographs. However, I was able to take a picture from an exterior balcony of an abandoned church across the street from MAC BA.
After I trekked through the three floors of the museum, I stopped at the museum shop. I was able to buy two magnets for Leslie’s collection. They are magnets that will remind us of La Rambla and Plaza Catalunya.
In front of the museum, there was a lot of activity. Since it was in the shade by then, numerous people sat on top of a small wall in front of MAC BA. In front of that was an expansive plaza. People talking, walking, and riding skateboards crowded the square.
A couple of sidewalk cafés just outside the MAC BA museum.
After work on Thursday, I strolled south on La Rambla. My mission was to photograph many of the street performers that were out working. The first one I spotted was a portrait painter. Dressed entirely in white, he had a paintbrush and a palette; both also white. He had a small white frame that those posing with him held in front of their faces. That made it look as though he was painting their portrait. After the painter, I saw the space alien. He had the most fun and also had attracted the biggest crowd. A little farther down the road was a woman made up to look like the figure in Salvador Dali’s painting, The Burning Giraffe (1937). Her costume was complete with the open drawers one sees in the original painting. Lastly, there were two different performers with the same get-up, each riding a bicycle with a skeleton sidekick.
At one point along La Rambla, I found myself at an exit/entry of the Metro. Suddenly, nuns began streaming out of the underground Metro onto the street. Based on the habits they wore, I believe they were part of the Missionaries of Charity. That is the group founded by Mother Teresa. I was not the only one to stop and photograph their exit.
I ultimately ended up in the “art” area of La Rambla, an area with caricature artists and painters of nearly every variety. I watched one artist ply his trade with spray paint. It was amazing what he did and how quickly he completed the canvas. He began with a white, stretched canvas, and in about five minutes, he had a finished work of art. It looked like a beach sunset scene. Beside him was a box of a dozen or so spray paint cans. He had only one nozzle that he quickly detached from one can and attached to another in a split second. At one point, his cell phone rang. Once he answered the cell phone, he cradled it to his ear, and he was right back to painting. I do not think this was his first day on the job! Some of the detail work, such as the palm trees and birds, he did by hand; other than those, it was spray paint only.
Shortly after that “booth,” I found an artist that did oil paintings on canvas. One of the large pictures reminded me of the art Leslie, and I had just seen at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid; Saint-Honore Street in the Afternoon Effect of Rain by Camille Pissarro (1897). The artist wanted €120 (US$146). I talked him down (the first bartering I have done in Spain) to €80 (US$97), so I bought the painting. It may have been too expensive, but oh well.
On my way back north on La Rambla, I spotted a small plaza off to the east by about a half-block. I walked into the square and took a seat at a table at la Terrassa del DO for a glass of wine and a tapa. I decided to have patatas bravas, one of my favorites. When I asked the waiter the name of the plaza, he said, “Plaça Reial.” That translates to Royal Square. Like so many other sidewalk cafés, it was delightful and relaxing to sit there and watch the world and the people. To occupy my time, besides the wine and tapas, I took photographs and wrote in my journal.
The patatas bravas had a wonderfully delicious white sauce on top of each potato. The waiter explained that it was a specialty of the hotel, a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and eggs. I had never had a sauce like that before. It was decadent. On top of the white sauce was a dollop of the traditional red sauce commonly used on patatas bravas.
While I say enjoying my patatas bravas and wine, a three-piece musical group came by to entertain anyone in the plaza that would listen. There was an accordion player, a clarinet player, and a drummer. After their song, they went table to table with a hat to collect money. I gave them €3 (US$3.66) for their effort. I found out they were from Romania. One’s name was Steven, one was Tosh, and I did not understand the name of the third member. After they left, I ordered some calamari and another glass of wine. It was very relaxing.
When I finished, I walked back to the hotel and packed, in preparation for my departure the next day.