Searching for Something #5: The Art & Culture Tour – Madrid, Barcelona and Figureres, Spain

5: The Art & Culture Tour

4 Mar 2002
Hola from Barcelona!

We’ve been doing quite a high-faluting cultural tour through Madrid, Toledo, and Barcelona this part week. Not too much to wax ecstatic over since it’s already all been described far better by someone else. So if you’re not interested, then you’d better skip right to the end.

Madrid

I found my favorite painting in the entire world at the Prado. Heironymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delight is a wonderfully surreal triptych depicting heaven, the sensuality of earth, and hell. It looks like both Dr. Seuss and Miro were later inspired by it. The most amazing part is that it was painted around 1500.

In the Reina Sofia museum, we finally saw Picasso’s Guernica, possibly Josh’s favorite painting of all time. No print could have prepared me for the enormity of it. Guernica occupyies the entire wall of a gallery room, and is surrounded by preparatory sketches and drawings.

Barcelona
We followed the modernista trail of architecture throughout the city, mainly focusing on the Antonio Gaudi buildings. He had a dislike of straight lines, claiming that they didn’t exist in nature, so you can see the undulating organic themes throughout his buildings.

Casa Batllo was my favorite. The roof is supposed to depict St. George and the dragon, and I swear that the balcony-eyes of the building follow you when you walk by.

La Pedrera was the last civic building he designed, and many consider it his best work.

Finally, La Sagradia Familia is a very unique church/temple/religious building. Even the requisite Jesus Christ is the only one I’ve seen who is missing the usual loincloth. It’s still unfinished (despite being started in 1884), so it’s a little startling to see the ornate facade and yet walk into a building without a roof. I’d bet that the creators of “It’s a Small World” in Disneyland were partially inspired by the spirals and shapes on top of the building’s spires.

Figueres
After dancing the wee hours of the night away, we woke up at the (Spanish) crack of dawn to catch an 11am train. We took a day trip to Figureres, two hours away from Barcelona solely to visit the Teatro Museu Dali. It was well worth it. Imagine every fantastic Dali that you’ve ever seen, and then superimpose his wacked-out mind onto an entire building/experience. He designed this museum throughout his life, and he is even entombed in it.

More Seedy, Less Culture
When we checked in to our hotel room in Barcelona, we were quite amused to find a foot-and-pregnancy fetish magazine hidden away in the closet safe (with a book of Genesis facade). I made Josh turn the pages for us, and my caution was well-justified since the centerfold pages were stuck together. If anyone’s interested, we left the magazine in the safe – Hostal Avinyo, room 303.

Partying in Barcelona is also a different experience. We went out on Saturday night after I bought some appropriate clothes (Josh can only keep me out of stores for so long). The listing said “Andrea Parker, 00:30″ so we showed up at the club 15 minutes after midnight. The doorman wouldn’t let us in. Apparently it didn’t open until 00:30.

We left to walk around for a while and La Rambla, the main pedestrian street in Barcelona, is more hopping at 1am than at 1pm in the afternoon. Not just young people either, but everyone and their parents. When we finally returned to the club at 1:30, we were let in, but it was pretty dead. Things didn’t start hopping until around 3am when Andrea came on (she did some darn good songs with the other DJ), and when we left at 4am there was a line around the block to get in. Locals inside told us that this was the early club. They invited us onwards to another club at 5am, where the scene really gets going with E and “ketamina.” But Dali was calling to us.

We leave for Turkey tomorrow. I can’t wait!

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