On our first visit to Barcelona we missed the chance to visit the Picasso Museum and a few other sites. The advance time-slot tickets were all gone by the time we realized we needed them. Because the next leg of our adventure involved a flight from Barcelona to Vienna, we planned a one night stop-over - this time with museum tickets pre-arranged. What we encountered was a very quiet city just coming to grips with COVID-19. In fact, our visit was on the very last day the museums would be open.
Our final day in Valencia was jam-packed, starting with our suitcases to be ready for an early departure the next morning. Then we headed out to catch the last glimpses of the still-in-process Falles being erected in the squares of the Ruzafa district. We loved seeing kids dressed in their traditional costumes having churros and chocolate at the cafes. We met up with Maria from “Mi Paella en el Huerto” in city hall square for our ride out to our Paella class (check out the recipe page for more about this fabulous class). After the class, it was more packing and resting before heading over to Dan’s apartment for a farewell celebration with him, Hop, and Douglas. Dan prepared a tasty all-American meal of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with plenty of cocktails, wine, and stories. It was after midnight when we bid our fondest farewell to these great new friends with a promise to return soon.
“Adventure Day” was also Richard’s birthday, a bright and sunny Valencia morning. We had a brisk walk with our roller-bags and our back-packs over to the Sorollo train station with corona virus now seriously on our minds for the first time. We were keeping our distance from other passengers hoping we will stay safe through the coming weeks as we travel from country to country. News from Italy was increasingly worse and our thoughts were with our family and friends we had visited only a few weeks before. A short train ride brought us a 10-minute walk from the Borne district in Barcelona where we had stayed on our first visit. This time we booked a room at the Ciutat de Barcelona - a lovely boutique hotel that had caught our eye the first time around. Little gifts - they had a room available even though we were quite early, so we dropped off our bags and headed off to Montjuïc, the hill overlooking the city and home of the Fundació Joan Miró. It was already past noon so our first stop was a birthday lunch on the museum patio, all the tastier with a cool glass of cava.
Our next stop was just off La Rambla: Palau Güell, one of Antoni Gaudí’s earliest commissions, an art nouveau urban palace that was the home of the industrialist, Eusebi Güell, who would later commission the amazing Parque Güell we visited on our first trip to Barcelona. The palace is an engineering and artistic masterpiece, though the sensibilities of Eusebi Güell tended to the dark and militaristic side - no wonder his wife never really took to the place. Gaudí’s signature whimsy is saved for the rooftop where 20 ceramic chimneys stand like fantastic chess pieces overlooking the city.
We enjoyed dinner at Bormuth, the tiny tapas bar that was our favorite from the first visit. The next morning we packed up, strolled across the tiny cobble-stoned street for breakfast, and then headed off to the Museu Picasso, the main reason for our lay-over. A thoughtful audio guide helped us navigate the beautiful mansion that housed a temporary exhibition that celebrated Picasso’s friendship with Paul Éluard and other creatives of his time.
The permanent collection traces Picasso’s evolution from “classical” style, through the blue phase, cubism, and more, pointing out influences from Goya, Matisse, Gaugin, and Velasquez. It was clear to us as we freely browsed the almost empty galleries that these were not normal times in Barcelona.
Circling back to Barcelona was a great idea - it felt familiar to us and still there was more to see. In less than 36 hours we had another great time. Then it was off to Vienna by plane for what would turn out to be a very brief visit.
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Nancy McCabe &