Happy Goes Lucky… En Espana II

05Sep11

As much as Madrid has stayed conservative over the years, that much Barcelona has been progressive, and the evident changes could be seen in the city. The new extensions of La Sagrada Familia have been constructed, some metro stations have been renovated, and the waterfront has received a complete make-over. Since we were staying in an apartment for over a week, by the end of this trip I felt more like a local than a tourist in Barcelona. Also this longer visit allowed me to explore more the Cataluna province.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Figueres is a small town, 2 hours away from Barcelona, whose main and only attraction is nobody else but Salvador Dali. Dali was born and spent most of his life in Figueres, eventually buying a burned-down municipal theater and turning it into a museum, dedicated to nobody else but himself. I could not think of more bizarre, eccentric and self-absorbed person than Salvador Dali. Yet due to the exceptional and unique talent that he possessed, and his venturing into all types or art media, from sketches to jewelry design, one accepts his eccentricity and sees it as normal. The theater turned to be a world of illusions and surprises. As I walked through it, one thought persisted in my mind: if imitation is the greatest form of flattery, what would have Velazquez said if he had seen Dali’s interpretation of Las Meninas three centuries after creation of the original painting? How did Alice Cooper feel when he found out that he was a subject of one of Dali’s work? Overwhelmed by the museum, N.B. and I hopped on the train and stopped briefly in Girona, before heading back to Barcelona.

"Soft Self-Portrait with Grilled Bacon" at Teatre-Museu Dali, Figueres

As one crosses the bridges to enter the old city of Girona, the view resembles Floretine Ponte Veccio over Arno River. This city used to be one of the major European Jewish centres in the medieval times until the Catholic Monarchs expelled all non-Christians out of the Spanish kingdom. Today the remains of Kabbalah community remain hidden in the narrow, ancient, cobbled streets of Girona, and Catholicism, in the form of an impressive cathedral, still overpowers any trace of Judaism. Although we spent only a couple of hours in Girona, the city turned to be a pleasant surprise, and it’s definitely an understated attraction worth of a visit.

Girona, Spain

Throughout the trip, N.B., F.P., and I were together for 16 days straight, but F.P. opted out from most daily excursions. It was too “strenuous” for him to go to bed at 5am, get up at 7am, and head out of the city for a full day of sightseeing. However, there was only one town he went to willingly. Sitges is a lovely fisherman village located about 40 min by train.  The main and only attraction is the beach, which is better than the one in Barcelona, so F.P. liked it. Of all Velazquez, Dalis, Picassos, and Gaudis throughout the trip, he cared only about the beach, and Sitges made him satisfied and complete.

Sitges, Spain

Our bad luck with restaurant persisted on the holidays, but in each city we managed to find one eatery that would blow our minds. I was secretly hoping that during this vacation, I will get a chance to eat at a restaurant of Ferran Adria, the well renowned chef who put molecular gastronomy and Catalan cuisine into the spotlight. However, his infamous restaurant El Bulli closed permanently this summer, and the other option of visiting his new cocktail bar 41º in Barcelona never came into realization. Instead we went to Tapaç24, a restaurant owned by Adria’s apprentice Carles Abellan. The little subterranean eatery was packed with people, the queue to get an eating spot was long, but the food was so fresh and orgasmic that we tried one more time to eat over there. We ordered double portions of almost every single dish that we had that night. This has never happened to me before, nor did I ever eat more fresh mussels. To describe the smell and taste of these mussels would be difficult; perhaps the flavour could be described as light – light as air with a tinge of sea aftertaste.

Tapac 24 Restaurant, Barcelona

The week in Barcelona came to the end quicker than we expected, and although we went out drinking every night, the weekend was kept for the hardcore clubbing. We decided that the sleep is for the weak so on our last day in Barcelona, we went out with the full force:

  • 11:30pm-12:30am dinner
  • 12:30-1:00am drinks at a Bar #1
  • 1:30-2:30am shots at a Bar #2
  • 2:30-3:00am refreshing in the apartment before heading to a club/sobering up or drinking more (depending on the individual case) 
  • 3:00-5:30am at the club
  • 5:35am looking for F.P. to head back to the apartment in order to pick up the luggage and go to the airport
  • 5:40am looking for F.P.
  • 5:45am looking for F.P. and subtly freaking out because there was 2.75 hr to the flight departure
  • 5:50am leaving the club with drunk F.P. and looking for a taxi
  • 6:00am disorientedly walking the streets of Barcelona, bumping into a random booty call from London that didn’t remember me, still looking for a taxi, and trying to calm myself down because there is 2.5 hr before the flight departure
  • 6:15am catching a taxi and heading back to the apartment, waking up N.B. who was having difficulties orienting himself after a deep sleep, eating a bowl of cereal while jumping on the bed and trying to wake up drunk F.P. who passed out
  • 6:40am managed to wake F.P. after 25 min who packs his suitcase in 5 min
  • 7:00am fetching a taxi to the airport, retelling the night stories and putting dark shades on since the rising sun hurt the eyes
  • 7:40am trying to do automated check-in
  • 7:45am trying to do automated check-in
  • 7:50am trying to do automated check-in – the gate was closed and the airline didn’t allow us to check-in on a domestic flight 40 min prior to the flight departure to Ibiza
  • 7:55am F*CKed
  • 8:00am deciding that the show must go on – each of us bought a new ticket to Ibiza that was 3 times more expensive
  • 8:30am eating breakfast, finding a corner/piece of floor/bench to sleep, and recharging for the leg 3 of the vacation

    Park Guell, Barcelona

To be continued…

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