October 10, 2013
It is difficult to categorize Barcelona. It certainly has its gritty, seaport, container ship, tank farm, low life elements. On the other hand, the creativity and the creative side of human nature is everywhere. The street entertainers and mimes are somewhat routine, but they try. Instead it is the workaday efforts at style and grace that stand out. The markets exemplify this character. Even the humble mushroom display is done with care. The vegetables and fruits are displayed with care and overwhelming appeal. The place is full of life.
Th architecture is extraordinary. You get the sense that uniqueness is the goal. Even the modern, high rise glass cubes are in the shape of pickles and sails. The effects of Modernesme and Art Nouveau are pervasive. The imprint of Gaudi is unique. In his presence you can feel his genius. Today we visited the Parc Guell which overlooks the old city center. It was to be a Gaudi designed ideal urban housing development. The park elements were completed and you can judge for your self what the the place would have looked like if the homes were built. I still find it difficult to get away from the Dr. Seuss comparison. They must have fun comparing heavenly notes.
The design elements of the park are much more involved than seen at first. We had entered from the top. The open gravel covered play yard is surrounded by the wonderful curlycue tiled benches. Stone grotto passages and tunnels invite you to explore. Only when you proceed towards the entrance do you realize the playground is supported by modernized Greek columns placed like a temple. As you proceed down towards the entrance fountains with ceramic lizards and dogs add to the magic. The entry structures and walls complete the urban fantasy.
After our hike to the park and our return to the Metro, we headed for Montjuic ( the mountain of the Jews) that overlooks the harbor and the city center. The journey involved a Metro ride, a trip on the Funicular and then a glass gondola. Peggy was happy. At the top is a 17th Century fortification with plenty of modern naval guns to protect the harbor. Great views and photo ops. We decided to walk down between the tour bus gauntlet. Not too bad taking the side trails. The dancing figure sculpture presented some cropping issues to avoid the buses from inclusion.
We concluded our visit to town with a return to the market for Helado (gelati) and wine shopping. Much better than the overpriced and generally mediocre cruise ship offerings. Always fun to hear the clank of bottles going through security screening. Said goodbye to Columbus at the harbor entrance. Notice the Indian thanking the priest for salvation.
On ship we went through the life boat drill and left port. We found the party on the rear deck and met the Dutch couple from last night’s dinner and enjoyed our smuggled wine in contraband glasses. Peggy nurtured a newlywed Korean girl while I exchanged pleasantries with the Dutch. Last night was formal dinner night. Fun for dress up. Much better than the grim buffet line alternative that a majority of boat riders utililize. We were out of gas and called it a night after dinner with an entertaining dentist and his wife who regaled us with scary tooth stories. Vigorously brushed my teeth and went to bed.