Barcelona. We rented a little apartment from Federico for 9 days in the inner suburb of Villa Gracia. It proved very handy to the beautiful old city of Barcelona, the fiercely proud capital of Catalonia, eternally opposed to all forms of government domination by foreign power, including Madrid! Gracia is downtown, easy, Metro-connected, inner suburban lifestyle, middle-class, super stylish, and complete with Gaudi credentials, Casa Vicens being just around the corner from our street. We even caught a couple of arthouse movies – in English….during…
…with not a single Easter egg in sight.
Santa Samana (Easter) was a little underwhelming. On Good Friday Janet was looking forward to observing some local penance for her sins and the sins of the world. Some latitude had to be given because it was her birthday! Ho Hum the life-size crucifix, the priests, the bishops, the candles, and the silently reverent street crowd, just raised her incredulous-ness to new heights.
Speaking of which the birthday girl celebrated with a beautiful symphony concert at the Palau de la Musica Catalanya. So grand…..so befitting for the grand old dame!
We wore out our Metro passes and spent oodles of euros visiting as many Gaudi buildings as we could. If all our not-quite uncomplaining queueing and strategic/defensive jostling with our 5,000-plus, daily fellow-travellers for glimpses of this or that other exquisite aspect, or this or that better photographic vantage point, is anything to reckon with, then Barcelona’s economy is well on track to a Gaudi-led recovery!
In our less Aussie-inclined, laid back, “go Barcelona!” moments, we agreed the term ‘Gaud(g)ing’ may suit the common garden Barcelona variety tourist experience quite well, but then again – what price this ineffable magnificence? Gaudi’s legacy to his native land and thereby to the world is massive; his breathtaking brilliance just dazzles and how could anyone get enough? Moreover, according to our very own ex-pat Barcelona (as well as NY) tragic, Robert Hughes, in his impoverished, old man years, Gaudi unashamedly accosted those with ample means, demanding a certain financial sacrifice of them as appropriate tribute, not to his personal glory, but to the work he believed The Creator directly rendered through him, for the greater glory both of humankind and of Catalonia – and in particular as his sole means to complete his most passionate expression of religious devotion, the Sagrada Familiar – ironically still unfinished despite the daily hordes making top dollar sacrifices for the bountiful pleasure he endlessly provides.
Where to after Gaudi? Why to Dali of course! Mmmmm…that man was his own religion and his coffers were never wanting, thanks apparently due to his wife/bookkeeper/Muse, Gala.
Is that enough said? Not likely, but much has already been written and is there for the record…it was a fantastic excursion. And while we are no great fans of Dali, we fully appreciated that opportunity to be further vexed and overawed by his vast and splendid body of work.
I think this portrait he did of his father when he was only 14 years old very moving.
We have 2 more days back in Barcelona before we move next door to France so no doubt we will do Park Guell, the one Gaudi icon we missed due to the very poor timing of the rain in Spain.