21. goodbye Barcelona

Dear travelling buddies

We are back at the hotel after a long and wonderful day where we accomplished all that we intended despite one heavy downpour and many showers. AND we managed not to lose the hotel umbrellas.

Tonight’s post will be brief. It’s been an incredible stay in Barcelona and tonight I need to catch up on a little sleep.

The meeting place for our design/antiques/homewares/fashion tour with Lisa was exactly the same as it was for Santiago and Gaudi - about half an hour’s walk from our hotel, along a street full of lovely shops only just beginning to open. It’s remarkable how nothing happens in the morning, gradually gets busier during the day, and by 10pm is really buzzing!

Our tour could not have been better tailored to our interests. Lisa somehow from our emails had interpreted exactly what we might like to see. Everything was singular and individual - designer fashion shops where the clothes are made by the owner, vintage shops with leather braces and lace dresses, gorgeous homewares shops, antique shops, exclusive jewellery stores, and hats. Here is a sample of what we saw.

designer fashion shops

fanciful figures....

handcrafted jewellery, our guide's loved handbag, and homes for llittle birds...

A table I would kill for....

Jellyfish...

Everything displayed so beautifully in curving whitewashed spaces....

Below is a photo of me with one of the shop-owners, Tony. Iris Apfel shopped there for three hours recently and bought so much, including the necklace she is wearing. Tony texted me the photo of her holding his dog. She bought the necklace she’s wearing from him.

We had lunch on a glass-roofed terrace at a club in a beautiful building which was once a private house. Photos were permitted. What a staircase! The staff were setting the table for a dinner.

A downpour meant that our visit to Sagrada Familia, the amazing modernist cathedral, was very wet, although nothing could dampen our admiration for the amazing facade and the soaring columns inside. It was begun in 1882 and only a quarter was finished by the time that Gaudi died in 1926. It's hoped that it will be finished for the centenary of his death. I wasn't able to take a photo of the exterior in the pouring rain. But lthe ceiling! The columns!

And finally a concert at the Palau de la Musica, designed by a modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner whose work we also saw yesterday. It was built between 1905 and 1908 and was supposed to be for the common people rather than for the aristocrats who patronised the opera. It is anything but common. This is an inverted cupola, with a radiating design featuring women. The columns to the right and left of the auditorium are more fantasyland.

and the glass balustrade of the twin staircases

I’m not musical whatsoever, so this description contains no technical terms! I think there were 10 performers in the brass band of Cobla Sant Jordi-Ciutat de Barcelona. (doesn’t St George, who is the patron saint of Barcelona, sound great as Sant Jordi?) There were trumpets and a cello and I think clarinets and flutes. Plus a younger man with a whistle (?) and a tiny drum.

When the performance started, I closed my eyes and was transported to a medieval forest with all the animals, a sort of wooded Camelot, the land of Bambi and butterflies, and a knight on horseback winning the hand of a fair maiden. Wolves and bears. Flowers were blooming. There was even a snowy winter scene with sleigh bells tinkling.

I told you I need sleep -:)

I am not sure when I will post again, as we fly to Paris tomorrow and collect a hire car to drive to the country home of some very dear friends who also happen to be my son-in-law’s loveable father and his darling wife. I may not have a chance to post while we are there tomorrow night and the next night. We’ll be at the Paris apartment on Friday afternoon (your Friday night).

I will be the driver and I’m nervous about being on the wrong side of the road. Keep your fingers crossed. All I can say is that Cally is very brave.

Hasta (pronounced ASTA with no H) pronto, amigos!