We started the morning with a trip to the Picasso Museum. Just like the Sagrada Familia, we got there first thing after opening, and in both cases this was a very wise decision. Both opened at 9 am, which is earlier than most of Spain even considers waking up. This meant there weren’t many visitors with us when we started, although in each instance, by the time we finished the crowds had become quite intrusive.
The Picasso Museum is nestled in amongst the narrow streets and alleyways of the old city. It has a collection of works that begins when the artist was 12 years old and runs until he started to develop cubism. Even when he was a teenager, while his style was more traditional, the hints of his artistic voice were tentatively peeking through. We know Picasso for his more contemporary work, his cubism in particular, so many people aren’t really aware that he could paint a traditional portrait, but he could. Had he never blossomed, becoming his own artist, I am sure, looking at these pieces, that he would have been recognized, but in the end he took things to a new level entirely.
After he starts to develop his own signature style, there is a gap in the museum’s collection. I think these were his most productive and famous years, when everthing he made was purchased and hangs on display around the world. Then late in his life, the collection resumes, with numerous whimsical studies. Many of these works were jocular in nature, making me giggle at the attitudes expressed by an elderly talent who no longer has to paint for anybody but himself, and is clearly having a blast doing it.
After the museum, I did some final shopping while D went back to the hotel and started packing. I returned and finished packing my own bags. We then took our luggage downstairs, stored them, and headed out into the streets for the rest of the day.
First stop was a tapas bar. Here, the fates finally smiled down on me and I found Mare Rosso Bitter Rosso. I have seen it here repeatedly, but only after I had ordered something else. And when I have requested it the servers have looked at me like I have bugs crawling out of my ears. Today the bartender raised her eyebrows, which leads me to suspect I am ordering it wrong, and brought me a bottle. It was as sublime as I remember.
We lingered over our meal and talked a while before heading to the Palau de la Musica. This is the “Palace of Music,” basically the local concert hall. Designed by one of Gaudi’s mentors, it was built between 1905 and 1908.
This is a closeup of the exterior of the building at the roofline. The details are both outside and inside.
If there are themes for art and architecture in Barcelona they seem to be color, outside-in, upside down, and natural forms. We see all of those here. It is a stunning demonstration of art nouveau, with bright ceramic columns, glass balusters with iron supports enrobed within the glass, open spaces that seem to bring the outside world inside, and an upside-down motif, where the higher we go up into the structure, the deeper we seem to be immersed in the fantasy world of the designers. Along these lines, at the Palau Guell, we learned that Gaudi frequently employed a technigue of designing structures upside down, with shapes of the arches mirroring the shapes created by gravity when ropes hang loosely (parabolic). We see similar inversions here.
Here is that balustrade I mentioned.
Here we are in the anteroom upstairs.
The chandelier in this room is a magnificent work of wrought iron.
And here we are on the outside balcony, up close with the columns (and some other members of the tour group!).
Now we have entered the concert hall itself.
Look at the ceramic ceiling, the cantilevered lights, and the columns. Where the columns transition to support the ceiling, the feathers of a peacock show themselves.
In the center of the ceiling is an elaborate stained glass piece, that seems to ooze languidly downward.
Look at the muses on the back of the stage. They have 18 of them. The designers weren’t afraid to break the rules and cast tradition to the wind, eschewing the well-known 9 muses and making up their own.
At the conclusion of the tour, we had another drink and a few more tapas before taking one last stroll around the quarter and then finally pointing our toes back to the hotel and turning our faces, minds, and hearts to home. We collected our belongings and caught the bus to the airport where we checked in and rested a bit before each heading our own ways, D to a Swiss Air flight to Geneva, and me on Air Europa to Madrid.
My flight was painless, notwithstanding three crying babies for the duration. It is a short hop from BCN to MAD, and I was surprised to find that Air Europa flies a very large plane, an A330, on this route – and they seem to sell almost every available seat. The remainder of the evening was uneventful. Upon arrival I collected my bags and went to the hotel (it was past 11 PM by now) where I had vending machine food.
At check-in I learned that Daylight Savings Time is ending in Europe tonight, so I get an extra hour, which will be needed because my flight departs at 7 am tomorrow. As I debated how to set my alarm and fretted about the time change (and whether Delta is aware), I rearranged my bags for the last leg of this voyage. It has been a full week, and while I will miss Spain, I am ready to be home.