Atlantis Alumni

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Goodbye Barcelona

Photo 1: Barcelona Aquarium

Photos 2-5: Casa Batllo by Gaudi

Friday afternoon we walked all the way to the new port area of Barcelona, along a modern bridge and into a highly populated seaside area of quays. All of this part of the town was only built since we were last in this great city, probably constructed before the Olympics took place here. Jim wanted to visit the Aquarium, which specialized in fish and other sea creatures from the Mediterranean. A few of our favorite small tanks included the beautiful and exotic sea horses and sea dragons (equally small), the sea lions (a poisonous fish) and the highly intelligent octopi. None of these animals are easily seen by divers or snorklers. There was also an enormous tank that surrounded visitors, full of large fish like sharks and tuna. We ate at a nice brasserie above the Cataluna Square.
Yesterday, September 4th, was our last day in the Catalunian capital. After having difficulty finding the Francesco Godia Museum (newly established in 1998) Dan enjoyed seeing paintings there by Sorolla and other painters, as well as some magnificent wooden altarpieces from the Barcelonan Romanesque and Gothic eras. Jim then found the section of the Paseo de Gracia famous for three magnificent Art Nouveau houses. The most famous is the Casa Batllo, a late masterpiece by Gaudi. We took the self-guided tour with headphones, which let us hear all about the master architect’s goals and how he used materials and symbols in his vibrant architecture. Gaudi’s use of stained glass for certain windows, stucco for ceiling decorations and tile mosaic for others, all created a house that seemed to pulse with life, a combination of the nearby sea with other organic forms. The arches in the attic under the roof are parabolas in shape, very innovative for the early 20th century. And on the roof Gaudi built a skyline resembling a dragon’s back, made of colored ceramic tiles and pots that shine vibrantly in the sun. Gaudi’s imagination was unlimited, and his patrons indulged his fantasies, luckily. He directed craftsman who worked in wood, tile, glass and cement, and combined all the elements into a stunning entity. Jim thought the tour of the house, and the fact one could take un-restricted photos, the best sight in the entire city. Truly, it was one remarkable way to end our stay in Barcelona. Another will be a performance at the famed Teatre Liceu, the city’s world-class opera house. Tonight we will see the season’s opening performance of Gluck’s 18th century work “Ifigenie en Tauride.” The production was choreographed for dancers by Germany’s Pina Bausch before her death this past year, and the lead will be sung by the fine Portugese soprano Elisabete Matos. This will be our last event in Barcelona before we fly home to Philadelphia tomorrow. So for now we say ‘adios’ to this colorful, remarkable city.

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