Sunday, February 21, 2010
Always a Surprise
Here we are sitting on another train, this time bound for Nice, France. It will be our modis operendi for the next few weeks, the next six to be precise. Every three to four days back on a train until we fly back to Spain from Ireland. Today is another adventure in traveling which we don't always plan. We arrived for this train with about twenty seconds to spare, a mistake of timing and a little lack of knowledge, specifically the fact that the train station was 6 blocks from the nearest metro and had no connections, very unlike the station we arrived at. We have had a few of these experiences, running for planes, missing trains and once having a taxi chase down a bus we had missed, all good fun! This experience involved us being intentionally bypassed through security to make the train, an event that surprised me considering the bombing of the Madrid station in 2004. There seems to be no lack of surprises for us. Beside the connection surprises we have had some pleasant ones here in Barcelona.
Some pleasant surprises we had were two cathedrals and a museum, all discovered from a walking tour we took. The first was Sagrada Familia. This cathedral is currently under construction, having been started around 1874. It will be ready for worship this year and will be completed around 2030. The Cathedral was designed by Antonio Gaudy and overseen by him for forty-three years, the last 12 exclusively until his accidental death being struck by a tram. He had, at this point, become so obsessed he was mistaken for a homeless man and died in the "poor" hospital here. The Cathedral was nothing like we had ever seen, the art inside and out a spiritual experience. It was quite breathtaking and quite something to comprehend this undertaking in this age. Our visit was took place in the midst of 300 workers anticipating the deadline of the completion of the worship area. When the spire of "The Risen Christ" is completed it will be 71 meters high. All this modernity was followed by "La Cathedral" of 1375.
This place I cannot fairly describe. It seemed to fit a pattern we have recognized in Spain with much of the cathedral dedicated to the Spanish saints. The exception being that the naves for the saints were enormous and very elaborately decorated. The stain glass windows were immense and very beautiful but the central feature and the one that stood out was the choir section. The choir area, not a loft, was in the very centre of the church. It had only one entrance and the massive pipe organ was just off to one side and elevated. Each section of the area was marked out by family shield of the families that contributed to its construction. The sheer vastness of this complex is really beyond description and left us with mouths open. Finally came Picasso
In the centre of Barcelona is the Pablo Picasso Museum. This museum took us through the entire life of Picasso, from his first sketches, through his work in Paris and finally to his cubist stage. It was a complete and dedicated gathering of his works that spanned his entire life. It was utterly fascinating to go through all the development of his art and see works from this. It was like walking with him through all his life as an artist. It was particularly fascinating to see his copies on Velasquez, whom we saw in the Prado art gallery. We were actually captured but Velasquez's work with the royal family and then to how Picasso interpret this was wonderful. To end we have to say that Terry and I have loved Spain, Terry especially loving the architecture and cannot wait for our next visit, which may be as early as the first week of April, but we'll see.