Today was another wonderful day in Barcelona with blue skies and a fluffy cloud every now and then. The kids were sleeping in and Shannon wanted to stay with her mom, so I left to go to the Picasso Museum. I have finally figured out how to use the Google maps and skills at reading signs and names of roads, so between all 3, I am able to get around well. Often you can find free wi-fi that the City of Barcelona provides. Each time you have to enter your email address and where you are from. It is not fast, but enough to get maps. Also, nearly every restaurant we have been in provides free wi-fi and they are happy to give you the password.
The Picassa Museum was very good and interesting. It shows much of his early work while he was living in Barcelona as a child. His father was an artist and teacher of art, so he encouraged the young Picasso. We all know about his Cubist paintings, but I was unaware that he used other mediums, such as pottery. He learned from many artists during his life and many of his paintings evolved because of the influence of other artists. It was a wonderful trip by myself because I could move through the galleries without worrying about someone else. I recommend the museum for those that enjoy museums.
I also visited the Church of Santa Caterina de Mare, which was very interesting. During the Revolution, the Catalans has burned the Church in protest, but since the Church was made of stone, only the wooden objects were able to burn. You can still see the black marks of the smoke on the ceiling. I had been in touch with my children through text messaging and did want to have lunch with them, so I came back to the apartment after my church visit and we all went to a really neat restaurant that Justin picked out near the Picasso Museum actually. It was called El Bixto. I ordered the salmon, which came with tiny toasts and a wasabi spread. The restaurant had lilies everywhere, which gave off the most beautiful aroma. They were also the biggest lilies I had ever seen. We shared all of our meals. They had spent the previous day at the Primavera Music Festival, so they all drank water. I had the Clara, which I previously told you was lemonade and beer, which I have decided is about the only way I can drink beer, except at the beach.
Everyone decided to go their separate ways to either shop or get back to the apartment (as Shannon had stayed in), so I went to the Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de la Musica). I had forgotten that you needed to make reservations ahead of time for the English tour, but since I was only one, they had one spot left for the 4:00 tour. To me, the outside is beautiful, but could not compare with the inside. The stage is at one end of an oval concert hall that seats 2,100 people. Since it was built with buildings surrounding it, it was important to bring in natural lighting, so there are many beautiful windows and an absolutely spectacular skylight in the concert hall. Our tour was particularly lucky as we were able to witness Flamenco dancers practicing.
I leisurely walked back towards the apartment and texted my children. Heather, Kevin and Shannon wanted to come out, so I met them outside of the apartment and walked back the way I had come, so they could do some shopping. I decided to sit at a cafe while they shopped. I enjoyed watching the people walk by for about an hour. In the meantime Heather made reservations at Los Caracoles Restaurant, one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Barcelona. Reservations were for 8:00, so we came back to the apartment, freshened up, and went out again. It was a bit tricky getting there, but we arrived at precisely 8:00PM.
The restaurant was large and reasonably full, although we were a bit surprised at the ease of a reservation. We each ordered a different dish, but I must say that this was not the best food we have had in Barcelona. It was “okay”. We did have some delicious Catalunya crema and some decent expresso. We decided to try an absynthe bar that the kids had found out about that Ernest Hemingway frequented. We realized, though, as we were walking that this was the part of town we had read about and that our guide that first day had warned us about not going to. Oh well. We finally found the bar and us girls sat in the corner. The bar was nearly empty with 2-3 people sitting in the “other” back of the bar. The bartender told us “only one table”, which surprised us given the fact that there were about 20 tables that had no one seated. He brought us to a small table right next to the front door that had a card on it that said “reserved”. I realized that he wanted this nice-looking group at the front, so that we would attract passers-by. And it worked. As the boys were at the bar, talking to the bartender about how to drink the absynthe, people started coming in off the street. They brought us over 5 stem glasses with liquid in them and we were told to place the tiny fork across the lip of the glass, then place 2 small sugar cubes on the fork. They had brought 2 bottles of water with a small hole in the cap and we were to pour water over the cubes until they melted in the glass. I have had Ouzo and Pastis before and drink Sambuca with 3 coffee beans occasionally at restaurants or at home, so I was familiar with the taste of anise or licorice, so I enjoyed it. It was a little watery for my taste and once you added the sugar and water, it turned slightly green. The others had a time of it and could hardly drink it. It is 100 proof.
We tried to get a Hailo cab, but we had no response, so we walked to the Metro. It was nearly midnight and the trains were slow to come, but since it was Friday night, they were packed. Everyone on the train was laughing at a man that was speaking very loudly and was obviously drunk. It made for fast friends on the train. We made one change and emerged from the Metro at our favored Tetuan Metro station and made the short walk home. We discussed our plans for Monserrat on Saturday.