The rain in Spain
Trip Start May 06, 2008
50Trip End May 26, 2009
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We had an enjoyable, if tiring, week in the UK over Christmas. It was good to see the family again, but we were glad to be back to our little home on wheels. The cats were pleased to see us back as well. I doubt if anyone had fed them in our absence as they came rushing out of the awning crying for food. We saw in the New Year twice! With the time being an hour ahead here we were able to celebrate midnight in the bar with a number of other Brits and a host of Spanish. We got some strange looks as we gathered round to sing Auld Lang Syne, then the room returned to dancing the Macarena. After that we first-footed at our neighbours, who had a midnight Skype call with one of their old friends in England. It was strange to see the London Eye fireworks on a web cam pointed at her television! This was followed by an Internet sing along when Desme got out her electric piano. Having seen in the Spanish New Year with a San Miguel, it was nice to do the job properly an hour later with some excellent malt that Michael had given us.
Since then we have been relaxing, walking along the beach and generally doing not much at all. We took the opportunity to visit the railway museum in Vilanova, which houses Spain's largest collection of steam locos, all arranged in a semicircle around a huge turntable.
Just outside Reus is Montaner's Institute Pere Mata, a mental hospital built in quite revolutionary fashion. Montaner believed that greater peace and recuperation could be gained by building a hospital as a number of smaller pavilions, separated by gardens, rather than as one huge institution.
We paid our second visit to Barcelona specifically to see this building, to revisit the Sagrada Familia, and to tour the Catalan Museum. The Hospital is enormous and quite breathtaking. It covers the equivalent of nine city blocks and the buildings themselves are so decorative and full of symbolism that it is impossible to do them justice in this short space. So I will shut up and let the pictures do the talking.
The Sagrada Familia is progressing, slowly. Lesley recently read a trashy Dan Brown type novel (The Gaudi Key), which suggested, amongst other things, that the Second Coming would take place when the building was finished. Given the rate of progress that is a long time off. We did see some new parts though, erected since our last visit in 2001, in sparkling new stone.
The Catalan Museum, MNAC or Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, to give it its correct title, is enormous. The entry ticket is valid for two days, and to study its contents in depth you would need at least this.
Its main claim to fame is its collection of Romanesque frescos, rescued from derelict Romanesque churches around Catalonia. These are arranged more or less in chronological order, built into made to measure artificial apses or even full size replicas of the church they were taken from.
Whilst sitting in the MNAC café, with a can of pop, I began to Fanta-sise about time travel. Whilst the development of art and style and the influence on later generations was shown by the layout of the exhibits, I wondered if actually the reverse was true, that modern artists and techniques were used to influence fresco painting in the 10th and 11th centuries. The evidence was clear to see. Here are some examples:
A picture of an angel had clearly been painted by Picasso. The detail shows Picasso's trademark straight nose and misaligned mouth.
The three men in a boat are obviously upset at losing Montmorency.
Later Popes, disturbed at the number of saints being created by their predecessors, sent back clear instructions as to what manner of death would qualify for martyrdom.
The final clincher was the statue of Pope Donald Sutherland, sent back in time to teach the world Ten Pin Bowling.
Whilst I am on the subject, it is equally obvious that Gaudi used future time travel and saw his early death. Only that could account for the fact that he tried to create the front of the Sagrada Familia while the concrete was still wet and dripping.
Compare his effort with the crisp carvings of Subirachs, who had all the time in the world to do his side
But joking aside, Barcelona is a fabulous city. No matter what the weather or time of year, or how often you come here, there's always something new to discover.