Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sleeping with Emma - Barcelona Weekend

Las Meninas - Picasso
We escaped the mid-Winter doldrums for a weekend in Barcelona.  No specific agenda except a little light tourism and some shopping and eating.  We found a decent hotel between Passeig de Gràcia and d'Aribau - away from the Ramblas frenzy.  It was called Room Mate Emma and had a sign in the window asking "Do You Want to Sleep with Me".  This marketing come on led to the occasional misunderstanding.  I met two bewildered Russian men outside one night who clearly assumed it was a particularly brazen brothel.  Far from it.  A clean well-run place with a modern kitschy feel to the design, and the grace to serve breakfast until midday. The staff were mostly very helpful young women - all fluent in English.

Passeig de Gràcia nearby is Barcelona's equivalent of Regent Street, or 5th Avenue, lots of expensive stores but also fine design and craft to be found.  Its broad pavements boasted some excellent sidewalk cafes from which you could view the local ladies parade their charms. Long straight dark hair, strong features, and a generous arse seems the standard issue. 

The Sagrada Familia is nearby we decide to check out progress - it's been 12 years or so since I last saw it.  There's no question of going in as there's a queue right around the  building - anyway the exterior is the most interesting part.  There's far more building activity this time - cranes on the go and workers spread all over the site. There's been many colorful additions (fruit clusters) and lots of fresh looking stonework.  But the whole area is circled by huckster's stalls and stressed-looking tourists doing the dutiful thing so we move on after a cursory circuit.

We have been using the Metro so we head off to the Picasso Museum near the Jaume 1 station - on the east (and less-populated) side of the Barri Gotic.  There's enough in there to divert you for a good two hours.  It's laid out in strict chronological order so you can trace his development as he moves from Malaga to Barcelona and ultimately Paris. However there it stops (somewhere in the 1920s) until we are suddenly cast into the midst of studies for Las Meninas in the late Fifties. There's only occasional evidence of Cubism aside from his take on Velasquez's masterpiece - no bad thing maybe. I was particularly taken by the beautiful minimal and poignant Dying Horse.  A notable curiosity was his copy of Velasquez's Philip II.