28th September 2012
Our first full day in Barcelona begins with Eva trying to contact an endodontist, she’s worried about her tooth, which has been playing up since we left. Well, they are either all on holiday, or they start very late, because she has no sucess. We decide to go into town anyway and she leaves a contact number. The weather report has been promising rain, but the morning was fairly clear, so we did not take any rain gear, a decision which turned out to be a mistake. Gaudi is the theme for today, and first up is Sagrada Familia, after some map confusion I’m convinced they have changed all the street names, we head in the right direction and soon it appears. It is indeed an impressive pile of stone and the decoration is incredibly ornate. I feel almost transported back to the middle ages, as the construction is still proceeding after more than 100 years. Some parts are old, with stained stone, while others are bright and new. Crane gantries and scaffolding surround parts of the building and there is even an abseiler working on some of the statuary. We would go in but when we, at last, find the right queue for tickets, it is almost as long as that for the Sistine Chappell, so we decide to head instead for Park Guell, Gaudi’s other masterpiece. It is said to be within walking distance of Sagrada Familia. This is technically true, as we proved. However it is uphill, and getting steeper by the step but we make it!
We have just gone in the gates when the rain starts and we shelter in a pergola formed beneath one one Gaudi’s raised walks, along with many other coat and umbrella-less tourists. There is a man playing the guitar and singing Guantanamera. He gets great applause, and probably half his monthly income in twenty minutes. This must be the origin of the saying about clouds and silver linings. When the rain eases a little we scoot off to the Casa Gaudi, a museum made from his house and containing examples of his furniture and other objects, though from divers sources. Observing that the rain has stopped we continue the garden tour, particularly the plaza and three houses, covered with Gaudi’s tile work and done in his fantastic organic shapes.
It is a relatively easy trundle down the hill to Barcelona’s Are de Triomf ( original spelling), which is a bit kitsch, and nowhere near as triumphal as Paris’s. From there, we are looking for the Catalunya music centre, which has Gaudi columns, but you have to take a guided tour and it is getting a bit late so we return home.
The camp is emptying now as autumn sets in, at least of humans. We have identified at least eleven cats, and there are probably more. They all seem healthy and friendly, so we assume they are not strays.
El Masnou, is a very mixed area, with some really nice apartments, some run down, and at least one ruin with squatters. After a meal we take a walk along the promenade, sampling the sea with our feet and inspecting the marina. From what we can see a large proportion of the yachts are for sale, a symptom no doubt of the crisis. Many of the restaurants are also closed, and the rest have very little custom. In other respect Spain seems to be carrying on. There are abandoned projects, but also construction. We have seen some demonstrations, but not large ones (though we have seen one large demonstration in Madrid on the tele). What we have seen, spray painted in many places, the expression “bancs culpables”, which seems to sum up the mood very well.