Day 26 and 27 – Barcelona
It was time to leave Madrid for a cooler place. However, this place is also known as the number one place for pick-pocketing, which is also the reason that our bank closed our account. It is also why Mom almost got her iPhone, passport, ID and credit card stolen, all of which were in her fanny pack, opened when a lady attempted to help Mom with her suitcase and made light conversation on the escalator as soon as we got off the train (reason number 1,000 why not to wear a fanny pack…love you Mom!). Luckily, this is the exact scenario that Rick Steve’s pointed out and that Mom read that very morning, so she was automatically suspicious of anyone who talked to us.
After that event, we arrived at our glorious five star hotel that actually had a pool. However, I never got to swim in it because we were out and about both days we were there. We had about half of the day left when we arrived, and decided after reading interesting information on Picasso’s life (and after my epiphany about modern art) that we should go to the museum that holds all of his earlier work, as well as some later. He began painting when he was 12 years old, mostly painting his family and religious figures. Later he would visit the Prado and copy the classical style of renowned artists, especially admiring Velazquez’s Las Meninas (considered one of the greatest paintings of all time). Later he painted 58 interpretations of the painting (once he had established his cubism style).
Original Las Meninas
Las Meninas Picasso Style
It was a very interesting to go through the museum room by room, seeing the subtle changes that began to take place in his paintings over time. It gave me a whole new appreciation for innovating artists, seeing that he could paint in the classical style as good as the greats, yet was the founder of something entirely new (even if it is a little jarring to the eyes after looking at so many Mona Lisa’s).
After walking through the museum we picked a restaurant close by for dinner. Personally, I thought the food was great. I got a refreshing salad with melon that would have completely hit the spot if it had been cold, but because the Spanish prefer warm salad it hit the target about 80 percent. Mom, however, was very frustrated that she had to pay 2.50 Euros for a rather small Diet Pepsi and was not allowed to take the bottle with her.
On our way home we had time to catch the magic fountains below the Catalan Museum. We watched it twice through, once with classical music, once with contemporary music starting with Craig David and eventually adding in some Destiny’s Child. It made for a great scene, as the Catalan Museum resembles a palace, and the main fountain lights up with different colors to the music. Sometimes the fountain looked as though it had dry ice inside it and it would mist over the edges, and at others was shooting out water in rhythm with the music. There were also many other fountains around the main one to top it off. It was a great night.
Today was a bittersweet ending to the trip: Bitter because all I wanted to do was lay on the beach and have a relaxing time without all the tourist stuff, yet all we did was tourist stuff; sweet because we saw more of the city than I would have originally (and because it is the last day and I am ready to go home). We started off riding on an overly expensive tourist bus, which Mom and I originally didn’t want to do because it cost so much and we weren’t planning to ride on it all day. This turned out to be, as originally thought, a complete waste, because even when on the bus we couldn’t see anything because the top was full and we were stuck in the bottom where you had to duck to see out the window. We couldn’t see anything the automated voice was talking about, and soon gave up, anxious to get off downtown to do a little shopping.
We got off and walked down a road that had frozen street performers all the way down both sides. If you gave them a tip, they become animated for pictures and videos. Some I was very curious about, as they were bent backwards and sideways in crazy positions that didn’t make sense gravitationally. However, Pauline was in a rush to get to some specific jewelry vendors, so we didn’t have time to really look at any of them. There were also vendors along the walk that were selling pets, such as different kinds of birds, turtles, and even rabbits. It was sad to see all the animals out, especially when Rick Steves wrote that they are kept in the tiny vending boxes overnight.
We ran into the largest market in the world by accident. We walked through it and also saw what had to be the most enormous fish head in the world as well. The fish section smelled pretty bad, so we got out of there as soon as we found an exit.
After some shopping, Pauline led us to a hidden café that she had found last time she was in Barcelona. It is this bar that is themed as a forest on the inside, and has trees and lighting that reminded me of the scenery in Snow White and Pocahontas. I ordered an iced coffee, and got a tiny cup of hot coffee along with a larger cup with a few ice cubes. Somehow I wasn’t surprised.
Fairy Forest Cafe
For the rest of the day we attempted to find the starting point of a gondola ride, which was about an hour search that ended in failure. Then I was able to briefly pass by the beach on our way to the next bus stop, take my foot and stick it in the ocean for a few seconds, looking at everyone on the beach towels in jealousy.
Then, though we got to the bus far before 8:00 p.m., the time that every sign says that the buses are no longer available, the buses were emptying because of some demonstration that was going on. So, even though we paid an arm and a leg for a bus, we only rode it one way and had to pay more to take the metro home. Needless to say we were glad it was the last day.
Overall, Barcelona was amazing. If this wasn’t the last day of a long, long trip, I would be super super sad to leave. The best part was going to so many cities before Barcelona to experience ancient ruins and rich, old history, then finishing the trip in one of the most modern places in the world. The city was redone for the 1992 Olympics, and hundreds of architects flocked in to show off their new style. All the buildings are so different–slanted, or have pieces sticking out into thin air, or completely round and shaped like rocket ships. They have hundreds of museums, most of which are modern, including ones that feature chocolate and fashion. Everything is so new! It was a fun change from everything we have seen so far. This place is definitely the next Cassie/Katie vacation spot.
We made one last stop at the grocery store to load up on chocolate before packing, had a bite to eat at the hotel snack bar (which took about an hour because Europeans seem to have a different schedule when it comes to restaurant service), and then made our way up to pack for our 6:00 a.m. flight. We barely slept before the alarm went off and we caught a cab to the airport. Checking in was a nightmare, but once we got going it was smooth riding from there. We had Lufthansa on the way home, a plane that had individual screens for everyone and let you choose the movies you want to watch. It was amazing and made the flight go incredibly faster.