Recently I flew home from a 24-day solo trip to Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Seville, and Lisbon again. If you like, you can start from the beginning here.
Day Eleven and Twelve - Barcelona
This morning I started a little later and slower in pace than usual, wandering in and out of stores and markets in the La Ribera neighbourhood of Barcelona. Finally made it to MACBA, but while the permanent collection was great (a few John Cages! a few Duchamp illustrations!) the temporary exhibits didn't float my boat. There was one by a prolific artist whose name I have forgotten already (darn my leaky memory) that suffered the same fate as the Miro yesterday. He had inked on paper some truly marvelous little people-things, hundreds and hundreds of them scattered across the plane like so many ants dancing. And not just paper, but giant sheets of corrugated cardboard and canvas. But he did so many. How can the impact remain when you're seeing his 50th, his 70th drawing in a row? Perhaps it was in fact the cumulative effect the curators were going for.
I ended my day with a trip to the aquarium (my brother texts his approval with the linguistically correct "I like aquaria too") and fantastic movator trip through their shark tunnel. Then home for an early supper and bed. I'm really taking it easy now. But I dreamed that for some unknown reason I cut my trip short and went home, and right in the middle of feeling supremely disappointed and sad, saying I don't know why I went home early, I woke up. A complicated but very effective way of making me appreciate how much time I still have here.
Day Twelve began with another unwisely epic walk. Started up at the Hospital de Sant Pau, which is a beautiful complex of modernist buildings which are - surprise, surprise - under renovations and subsequently closed to the public. Then, meandered down back around La Sagrada Familia. "I'll look at the park that I missed" I thought. No, under construction, barrier-ed off. But eventually went along Diagonal and found a few more Gaudi houses and slipped into the Fondacio Antoni Tapies. I fell in love with this Spanish painter and his organic, earth-coloured canvases every time I saw his work in the larger galleries, and so a whole museum devoted to his art was such a treat.
I realized that on this trip I will have an opportunity to stick my feet into the waters on all 3 sides of the Iberian peninsula, so after FIVE pieces of tapas (whoops!) and a cafe con leche at the beautiful but run-down Placa Reial I went back down to the beach near me and stood in the surf. Fantastic.
Then, Ricardo gave me the name of a good seafood place called La Paradeta, behind the (closed) Mercat del Born and oh my goodness am I ever thankful. (In fact, I just remembered that I thanked him in a dream, too). I would never have gone in if I hadn't known about it, it's so unassuming from the streets, but you walk in and are immediately confronted with all. this. seafood.
You tell the guy what you want, and how much of it you want, and how you'd like it cooked. Then you pay, you get your number, bread, and wine, and you wait for the kitchen to call you up. And because different seafood obviously cooks at different rates, you might get called up a few times. I had an oyster (fresh), shrimp (grilled), what I can only describe as a small lobster (steamed) and, uh, sea snails? (?) I only know that when I saw them in their bowl at the front, I had no idea what they were. And so, I thought, "I'll have those."
I came home smelling of garlic and butter. And so, so happy.