Today we woke up ready to explore a the more natural side of Barcelona. Sophia told us about a park, cactus gardens, and an old militia fort near where we were staying. Though we’ve been walking non-stop since we got here, we’ve kind of been slacking in terms of actual practice for our trek. We strapped on our hiking boots in hopes of breaking them in a little more.
We’ve spent entirely too much money on food since arriving in Spain. Thus, we got some groceries from the market rather than going out to eat again today. Our plan was to make a giant omelet out of a emu or ostrich egg. When the woman asked for $35 euros for the egg, our plans quickly changed. It was a hot day, so we decided that cold-cut turkey sandwiches and fruit salad sounded like our best option.
Our hike took us through some botanical gardens where each plant was named in multiple languages. It was a beautiful park with interesting places to sit. After studying architecture and interior design for the last five years, I always search for outdoor spaces that are designed to encourage people to simply linger. There were beautiful benches built into the sidewalks, many diverse public and private outdoor spaces, and interesting musical and physical activity centers within the park.
At the too of the highest hill in Barcelona, lies the old fort used for protecting the city. It was called the Castillo de Montjuic and Sophia told us we should definitely pay the three euro entrance fee in order to explore the interior. Though the building was rather damaged from elapsed time, we learned a lot about the violent history of Spain. They had an amazing photo/video performance within the museum were they collaged famous etched artwork with live-motion film. Black and white characters would suddenly emerge from the battle scenes depicted within each etching. I’ve never seen this type of cinematography, so that alone made it worth the three euro entrance fee.
We climbed to the top of the barracks in order to get a better view of the entire city. The roof was made of chunky chamfered bricks and slanted down in order to drain rainwater. I walked to the edge of the roof while glancing into the viewfinder on the camera and suddenly felt my ankle give way into a drainage channel. My knee hit the 2-foot-tall stone railing and my hands somehow managed to catch myself right before I went over the wall. It was a life-threatening experience in which I realized that, 1: Europe doesn’t have the same building-code or safety standards as the United States, and 2: I need to get my head out of the clouds and watch where I’m going.
We munched on a variety of home-pickled olives, onions and garlic on our hike back down the mountain. The 1992 Olympic stadium was the next stop on our route. Being smaller than we originally assumed it would be, we moved on to the Barcelona Museum of Art. This building was insanely beautiful and rightfully perched up on a hill as the central building to the mall of the Plaza de Espanya. I appreciated that a building dedicated to the arts was the building that was decided to deserve its own mall, fountains and colonnade rather than a federal building.
In the evening we made our way to the Opera house for Flaminco y Opera. The stunning building was hidden amongst the narrow streets of the gothic district. When we finally found the theater, again by chance, we were awed by the intricate mosaic details on the interior and the exterior facade. The stained-glass skylight that seemed to drip from the ceiling was the focal point of the interior. Beautifully carved wooden panels, powerful mosaic imagery and enormous plaster forms emerging from the walls all lent to the unique theatrical design. Our seats were terrible, but we didn’t want to pay more for something we weren’t even going to understand.
A live band accompanied the opera singers while colorful dancers alternated under the spotlight. We enjoyed the show and respected the talent involved, but in comparison to some of the shows we’ve been privileged to see in our lives, it did not compare. We’ve been extremely lucky regarding the incredible performances we’ve been witness to. However, I’ve never seen someone’s feet move so fast in my life as I did that night, and I’m sure I never will again.