Thursday, February 23, 2012

Barcelona #4: Montjuïc

There is of course what a person could do and then there is what a person should do and then there is the limp little fact of what a person does do. Today’s limp little fact is that in the presence of the Traveling Companion doing what he did yesterday (sleep until late afternoon), I did the same (sit around the hotel room) without the presence of mind to order coffee, go get coffee, or do anything else at all. I know I will be sorry on my way home that I spent a vacation in as nice a place as this doing very little at all, but there it is, the limp little fact that most vacations are for loafing.
Outside, it is perfectly sunny and 57F. The locals are wearing boots and buttoned overcoats with mufflers wrapped carefully around their throats. For about 3€ you can have a café con leche and a ham and cheese croissant, and it will be the best you’ve ever had. You can then sit at your tiny table and read and pick at crumbs on your plate for as long as you would ever want.  Outside, everyone looks like they’re freezing, but they’re over-reacting.
Once I harassed my Traveling Companion enough to get him out of bed, we took the subway to Montjuïc, an urban mountain park in western Barcelona. The subway beat us last time, but this time we mastered it. The ticket kiosks only accept my cash and not my credit card, and consumed all of my smaller bills and coins, but we got our tickets and got to where we wanted to go. The menuing is pretty one-dimensional in these kiosks, offering baffling pictures of the various tickets available, and most of it is so poorly translated into English as to remain unknowable. From the Paral’lel Stop (which really does have that peculiar apostrophe), you can transfer to the funicular railroad which lifts its passengers to a point about half-way up the mountain. From here, you transfer to a cable car, which requires more tickets but round-trip is an option for once.
Half-way up, we visited the Fundació Joan C, a museum displaying the breadth and depth of Miró’s work, from sketches, collages, pen and ink, and sculptures to the bulk of his efforts: paintings. I always loved Miró; his work was so free and slightly surreal and experimental and just cool. My Traveling Companion found his work to be one-dimensional and really not very interesting.  Me:  “Oh, I love this!” Him: “Meh.” At least his admission to that museum was free.
Next, we took the cable-car up to the top of Montjuïc, to the castle on the top. I did not know while we were visiting that there is a long history of executions held there, from anarchists and Catalan nationalists to Republicans and Fascists. The spot offers commanding views of most of Barcelona, including the port and the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. Best of all, there were magpies in the trees.
Yesterday in my boredom I read a book about the basilica we had visited the day before. Today I am back to George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. I haven’t gotten very far.  My father used to claim that he and his buddies wanted to go to Hungary in 1956 to fight the Soviets, not unlike what Orwell and Hemingway did in Spain. I am almost certain my father never seriously wanted to go.

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