My brother, John, arrived in the Eternal City on the 13th of June. We were going to have an adventure. We fled the Roman humidity for Espana! I booked us on a 6am jet plane to Barcelona. He was NOT happy with me when we had to get up at 3:30 in the morning to make our flight. It was worth it. Barcelona was incredible. We stayed in the Bari Gotic at a hostel - had not done that in a while - so we were centrally-positioned to take in all that BCN had to offer. Our first day was a bit of a mindless stumble through the streets. We were both exhausted from our early early morning, John was getting over jet lag and a cold. We took it easy. We got to know our area, walked down to the port, and eventually took a nice long nap in our bunk beds. That night we had the first-moments-in-a-new-city-don't-know-where-to-eat blues. We finally got desperate and stumbled into a place that was showing the soccer game. We caught up with the hunger just before John got hangry. Whew.
Our next day we went to the fantabulous Picasso Museum. Picasso lived in Barcelona during different periods in his life. A large part of the collection are his almost obsessive musings on Velasquez's Las Meninas. There were over 40 paintings studying the 17th century masterpiece. John and I both enjoyed works from his Rose Period. I'm just going to say it, Picasso's art is pretty sexy. It just is.
We then headed to Antoni Gaudi's Casa Mila, an early 20th century apartment building in the Eixample neighborhood. This place was unlike anything I'd ever seen. From the outside it undulated and swelled, from the inside it swirled and ascended. The most spectacular moment was stepping out on the rooftop terrace. The surface was tiered and sloped and covered in a peach stucco. Gaudi designed a series of quasi-anthropomorphic sculptures that looked like a cross between a blob and a storm trooper. The views out over the city were boggling. We spent a good amount of time leisurely taking it all in. My pictures and words cannot do this place justice.
Wednesday was another Gaudi day. We spent the majority of our time at Park Guell, another brain child of the prolific architect. It felt as though we had stepped into the American Southwest on acid. There were desert slopes covered in cacti and mountainous peaks that looked out over the whole city. This natural landscape was paired with more strange undulating constructions covered in brightly covered mosaicked tile. John and I brought picnic lunches and read our books (me: Oscar Wilde's the Picture of Dorian Gray, him: Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian - the heaviness of both our literary picks were a stark juxtaposition to the cheery Dr. Suess-like landscape). We lounged in the sun. My brother and I have a great travel pace. Slow and steady.
Thursday we resigned ourselves to the beach and only the beach, Barceloneta. Wow, sol, mar, playa, si. We had another picnic, drank San Miguels, people-watched and read. The people watching was certainly interesting as there were all kinds of states of undress. This was mostly distracting for mi hermano. Our most memorable moment was the two dudes strutting slowly down the beach together, buck nekked. Way to work, guys.
Friday was our last day in BCN and we finally made it to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, or as John preferred to call it, the Evil Under the Sea Witch Castle. I like John's title best. The Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) has been under construction for almost 100 years. Gaudi began it in 1882 and many other sculptors and architects and builders have worked on it since. It is a sight like none other - and I've seen A LOT of churches. Outside it looks like those drip sand castles I used to make at the beach as a child (good analogy, Mom). Inside it is a cross between a cave of stalagmites and an insect hive, but on a scale that is humbling and impressive. There is something overwhelmingly organic about this massive man-made structure. Construction is still going on in the central nave, but the tourists are able to mill around the edges and through dust. Again, the pictures and words can hardly tell the story.
All through our time in Barcelona, John and I were able to catch World Cup games. We had some really good times chatting with other fans, drinking copious amounts of sangria and enjoying the futbol fervor that we just do not have in the U.S. We met some fun people and had some late nights. Particularly our last night - to bed at 2am (not late by Spain standards) and awake by 5am to catch our flight back to Rome. Worth it.
Brother, I had a marvelous time traveling with you. I'm glad you are back in SLC with the mountains and rocks at your doorstep. Here's to more adventures together. Next time, you get to choose the destination.