Istanbul had a European spirit, but Spain was our first time to Europe-proper.
We had a little less than a week there, and we spent our time in Madrid and then Barcelona.
I had gone to Spain back in 2007, but it was Rebecca’s first time ever, so she got pretty excited. She also got pretty sick.
A mysterious fever brought her down right after we reached our hotel in Madrid. So she slept and I went out to enjoy the city. Easy enough! And look at this diner I found:
The next day we started touristing in earnest, seeing the art musuems that were more-or-less the big draw for us.
Our first stop was the Reina Sofia, a place for more contemporary art. Aside from Picasso’s Guernica, it had a few other recognizable masters in the collection:
Like Dali, for example. I liked seeing one of his less bizarre paintings, too:
There was also some Max Ernst:
And a lot of other stuff I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of.
Nearby the Reina Sofia is the Prado, Spain’s Louvre, full of classics. It’s a daunting gallery, with too much to cover in a single visit.
There were no photographs whatsoever allowed indoors. But here are some online photos of my favorite things in the museum:
The Triumph of Death by Breughels:
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch:
Saturn Devouring One of His Sons by Goya:
Goya’s work made up a huge portion of the collection, and I loved all of it. He was a master during a very interesting time in art history.
Aside from eating and art, we didn’t too much else in Madrid. After all, it wasn’t bullfighting season!
Barcelona is home to the Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece from Antonio Gaudi. Seeing the Cathedral in person drew me to Barcelona way back in 2007, and it was fun to bring Rebecca there too.
What I didn’t anticipate, though, was how much had changed in eight years. When I went, it felt very unfinished. Couldn’t even see the main hall inside!
But this year the stained-glass windows were installed, the ceiling was finished, and the scaffolding had been taken away. It’s definitely the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.
See those tresses at the top of the columns? Gaudi designed those by dangling sandbags on strings, and holding a mirror beneath them, to see how best to distribute support against gravity:
So, so cool.
But of course that’s not all Barcelona had to offer.
We also got to see some archery practice:
Some children learning traffic rules:
The old Olypmic Complex (now eerily deserted):
And pedestrian escalators (which made us miss Hong Kong):
Aside from unique-to-Barcelona stuff, we also made a mission of pumping ourselves full of movies. And we succeeded. We saw 6 movies up for best-picture this year.
Our stand-out favorite was Birdman, and our least favorite was that sack-of-crap Theory of Everything.
I’d summarize our Spanish trip like this: Too Short!
I understand how backpackers can spend a long, long time there. The food is great, and you get west-European cultural richness at bargain prices.