|Plaça de la Vila de Madrid||Shellfish counter|
We had a café con leche at Escribá, famous for its pastries and for the building it occupies, the Antiga Casa Figueras, a fine example of modernista architecture. It's appropriate because we spent the day haphazardly wandering the Ruta del Modernisme, gawking and photographing and generally being obvious tourists.
The first building that enchanted us along the route was the Palau de la Música Catalana. Due to the overcast skies, narrow streets and the neck-craning height of the elaborately decorated façades, I couldn't get a good shot of the entire building, but I think the details capture some of the feel of it.
|Pretty tile mosaics||Curious deep-set pigeonhole windows|
The gauzy wire sculpture makes it look as though a cloud has decided to perch atop this building.
Of course, the highlight of the journey was arriving at the Casa Batlló, which stopped both of us in our tracks.
We grew footsore and hungry, so we decided it was best to stop, have tapas and café con leche and save the visit to the interior of the building for another day.
By the time we walked back to our hotel, the sun was setting.
After a good preparatory nap, we went back out to Els Quatre Gats for dinner. The young Picasso held his first exhibition in this modernista hangout in 1900. The food is on the heavy side and it's not cheap, but the interior's worth spending some time to drink it in. The restaurant portion consists of an enclosed two-story courtyard, the center of which seats parties larger than two, while the balcony that runs around three sides seats couples. Marco and I sat on the upper level and derived much entertainment from watching the diners below, particularly a very large Catalan man who commanded a table for four all by himself, ate with great relish, and surveyed all the neighboring ladies with a proprietary eye. I wanted to take his picture but was deterred. Boo!
While wending our way towards El Raval, we passed by the ominous Església de Santa Maria del Pi, which, despite being fenced off by some nasty-looking spikes, sported some bad spray-paint graffiti at the bases of its looming towers. We crossed the Plaça del Pi to the Xocolateria la Xicra. The hot chocolate was as thick as custard and incredibly rich. I couldn't finish mine.
|Església de Santa Maria del Pi||Sipping my xocolata calenta|
At my insistence, we visited the Plaça de George Orwell. Well, we had to, didn't we? I mean, he wrote an eyewitness account of the Spanish civil war and he called it Homage to Catalonia. The sculpture standing at one of the points provided the only real attraction of the triangular plaça. The middle was a construction zone and the shops at the outer edges radiated dereliction.
|Signage||You can't see all the pigeon poop at night|
After passing many greased mullets, the most popular Catalan hairstyle, we finally arrived at the Bar Marsella in El Raval. It's one of those dives that managed to strike the magical balance between crustiness and subtle modernity that make for a hip joint. It also features low prices and a huge, impassive bartender whose method for making mixed drinks doesn't involve a lot of the mixer. More winning traits.
We got there just before the Friday night rush hit at midnight and parked ourselves on a pair of stools at the bar. Over the course of the evening we had a number of conversations in English and Spanish, learned from a tiny, bubbly woman that the word for "bad cheap bourbon" (or any other crap liquor) is "garrafón," and got amazingly sloshed.
This was the last picture of the night, taken by the aforementioned bubbly woman whose name I don't remember. Dr0nk much? I think so.