Monday, September 23, 2013

Came with the frame: Barcelona day 2 through pictures taken by others (mostly)

The time that has elapsed since my first entry about Barcelona and this one is something that could be described as "long ass" and I acknowledge that. However, I really think I was subconsciously waiting for the airless windowlessness of every day life to really settle back in so I would have no problem hearkening back to sunnier days. And so I open my souvenir notepad of travel notes (some of the most astutely scribbled notes in my long history of illegibility if you will. And. You. Will.) to tell the tale of Barcelona: day 2.

If I'm being completely honest, Barcelona did not immediately impress me the way, say, London first did or San Francisco. Even my one night in San Diego seemed to impress me in a more immediate way. However, I can't really trust any impressions given to a completely sleep deprived brain; it just wouldn't be fair. But by the end of day one I was well on my way to feeling the rhythm of the city, aided entirely by the group of people I was travelling with and the 3 euro wine. Always the wine.

We decided to do a Gaudi walk, which was to include both the Casa Mila, pictured here:

Not my photograph.

And one of the highlights of the entire trip for me, the Casa Battlo. After seeing the Sagrada Familia the day before, the natural yet intricately planned style of Gaudi was instantly recognizable and when I first saw both the Casa Mila and Casa Battlo, I was struck by how they both seemed to have naturally occurred in the shapes they were in. I really get the feeling that if architecture could just form out of the soil and grow organically, they would look like a Gaudi.

We didn't go inside the Casa Mila but went right up to Casa Battlo. As I said about the Sagrada, experiencing Gaudi's architecture is wholly sensory. Casa Battlo is no different, except the facade of the building looked like an organic part the world, a fantasy world. Here's a photograph, far superior to any of the ones I took:

This person had photography skillz. It was not me.

This building was designed and built for a family to live in and not, as I initially thought, an ossified, transformed version of a dragon that once roamed the earth. There is a story that circulates about the building that there is a dragon represented in the architecture but the only reason I think that story exists is because it would appear that it is obvious that a dragon is represented in the architecture.

Walking through the house was akin to jumping into a pond of clear, cold water and the curved lines that ebbed and flowed all over the house and the blue, cool colors everywhere felt like swimming through the building. This is a light well that is in the middle of the house:

I tried to take an identical picture but got my thumb instead.

So you can see that feeling like swimming is not a stretch. The light wells are bordered by tempered glass that if you stand in front of it, as the recorded guided tour advises, and move your head from side to side, it really does appear that you are underwater. Just because there are way better pictures on the internet of this house I'll include a snapshot of my favorite part of the house:

Leads either to the attic of the house or to an alternate dimension where flowers glow neon and the air is made of water.

In the center of the house is a little wooden elevator that Jason tried to convince me to ride with him. But because I'm a pansy and saw a sign that had stick figures of elderly, pregnant and wheelchaired people I refused. He went anyway and I instantly regretted my bechickened shit. I had to ask myself, as Jason would go on to say many times during the trip "What did we learn?" Well, I learned that I could have always faked being pregnant if we had gotten caught using the little glass and wooden lift of wonder.

I did not get inside of that.

The house was closing early on the day we were there and unfortunately the gift shop was closed by the time we got back to the bottom. Both Jason and I wanted to check out the gift shop and were obsessed with the notion that we could not. This is noteworthy because it comes back to haunt us later in the week. Stay tuned for that.

After a few hours in this magical place, we were all hungry so we went in search of tapas. The landlord of the apartment where Nancy and Jon stayed as well as the cab driver that drove my sister and I to our apartment both recommended the Ceverceria Catalana. They did good. We all won that afternoon. The best prize went to me, because I ordered a tapas sampler and I got my first bite of Pimentos de Padron which, quite frankly, made me a woman.

Do I look different?
That was also the first time I tried the famous Spanish croquettes filled with potato and ham and cheese and nom nom. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make tapas happen here stateside. And by "trying to make tapas happen here" I really mean I will search for nearby tapas restaurants and visit them if they already exist because I cannot be asked to try to make that delicious shit at home.

After lunching, we went for an aimless wander, one of my favorite vacation past times. I don't remember now if we were in search of something specific but I do know that we ended up at what we thought was the base of Montjuic but in retrospect, I have no idea what that massive hill was. I know only that we climbed it, the back way. And in the back way we passed stray dogs, gutter punks, a filthy abandoned mattress and no one else on earth. At the top of this hill, there was a cable car office that had, literally, two minutes before we reached it, closed. Apparently there was a cable car that would take one across the sky to some other high mountain top that, again, if someone from my group could shed light on this that would be great for my memory. (I drank a lot of wine on this trip.)
It didn't really matter that much since the views from the top of that mountain were spectacular. The sting of being denied a cable car ride was cooled by taking a seat at a nearby bar with a spectacular view of the city. I would soon understand that Barcelona has no shortage of places to see the entire city. All of us, apart from Rashish had swimming pools full of sangria. Rashish ate a three scoop sundae. Sangria and sundaes really do make a supper of champions and what else are you going to eat at the top of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe? Don't ask me how, but we managed to avoid the back way when we descended this mountain of destiny. Considering someone probably cooks meth back there at night, this was fortunate.

We decided collectively to make it an early night since the next day, we headed off to Montserrat. Now for THAT I have my own pictures. Mostly. I might use some came with the frames though. I guess you'll just have to read the next entry to find out.

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