Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Barcelona im Augenblick

You know you have jet lag when you step out of your hostel in Barcelona and open your guidebook to find a map of Munich. Whoops! Fortunately, the hostel has only half a block away at this point, so I was able to easily go back and swap Germany for my Spain guidebook - much better!

But that gives you an idea of the state my mind is in right now, so please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors you may find. The title, "Barcelona im Augenblick" (Barcelona in the Blink of an Eye) gives further insight to my mental state, since flying across the Atlantic to Frankfurt on Lufthansa has unfortunately put me in German mode. Now that I'm in Barcelona, I'm still hearing German everywhere (including right now as I type this; there is a group of Germans at the hostel). Go figure, Barcelona has a lot of Germans. Somehow I'm not surprised.

But there are also plenty of Barcelonans, and upon leaving the Hip Karma Hostel with the correct guidebook, I soon found myself immersed in La Ribera neighborhood, walking through narrow streets lined with wrought iron balconied apartments, the balconies across from each other so close that two lovers could almost manage to touch over the heads of passersby below. The streets themselves were teeming with children creating makeshift games using anything from a soccer ball to a crushed water bottle, and teenagers of all backgrounds in tight jeans lounged on benches. This was a real neighborhood, from the mothers pushing strollers together on an evening walk, to immigrant run stores selling discount clothes for five euros. Castillian, Catalan, and other languages were tossed about with abandon.

When I came across a shop selling gorgeous sundresses for 35 and 40 euros, I knew I was nearing the tourist zone. Sure enough, the shops were posher as I neared my final destination, the Picasso Museum, although the neighborhood wasn't above the occasional tacky tourist traps. The entrance to the museum itself was practically hidden along one of the narrow alleyways, but marked by the nearby art print shops.

Despite my tired state (and despite the loud German teenagers), I enjoyed the museum, which showcases Picasso's development as an artist from childhood on. Two rooms were devoted to his interpretations of Velazquez's Las Meninas. A painting close to my heart, Las Meninas was the first truly great masterpiece I saw in a European museum, and I found Picasso's take on the subject fascinating. A friend of mine had found these paintings "shocking", but to me they were alternately joyful and thought-provoking. Picasso managed to capture the scope of the piece while giving it his own decidedly unorthodox twist.

Unfortunately, my trip to the museum was followed by a near pickpocketing experience and a trip to the Sants train station, where I waited in line for one hour to purchase a ticket for Friday to San Sebastian. So now that I've managed to stay up far later than I'd planned, I think it's time for a quick bite to eat and a long sleep in my cozy, curtained hostel bed. Hasta mañana!

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