Saturday, 27 September 2008
Well, it's got a beautiful horizon. We got back today from a marvellous week in Barcelona, which was hot and thoroughly enjoyable, and which my lovely partner paid for, as I'm totally broke. We ate lots of tapas, drank plenty of beer, slept like dormice, swam in the Med, saw some marvellous Romanesque and Gothic art, and wandered round Gaudi's bonkers Sagrada Familia. (Swagged in gloopy lava-like coagulations, curlicued like crispy kale, dotted with coloured pompoms and structured with mathematical abstractions, it is a bizarre place: you can see some photos Matt took above.)
Ethpain was much as I had expected from watching a lot of Almodovar movies. Old women determinedly charged through winding, medieval streets in boxy blouses; young couples argued in doorways about the best way to get an orange armchair up a tiny spiral staircase. In La Boqueria, the fantastic market, fishwives cleaved squid and octopus whilst wearing full makeup, complete with earings, and sporting bad bleach-jobs. One hefted a tuna head the size of a small cat, all the while sucking on a fag, the obligatory long finger of ash teetering over her glistening red mullet. (That's the fish, not her hairstyle.) In the medieval cloisters of the cathedral, palm trees grew among pools and fountains, including a deep green trough in which a little turtle surfaced and dived again. Maidenhair ferns dripped in the shadow beneath an iron fountain in the shape of St George killing the dragon. According to an immemorial custom, the cloisters also housed a flock of tame, impassive geese. A stone frog spouted water into a little pond, as life-sized, baroque statues of saints looked on from behind racks of red votives. And when we had a glance at Spanish telly one evening, it seemed to consist entirely of garish chatshows featuring transsexuals slapping each other.
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Above are images of La Sagrada Familia, and one of the marvellous wall-paintings from the 10th-12th centuries, now found in the National Museum of Catalonia.