Europe / My Travels / Spain

Barcelona: Imperfectly Perfect

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
-Salvador Dali (a Catalan surrealist artist)

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Streets of Barcelona.

At first, I wasn’t so keen on visiting Barcelona, especially alone. I have heard so many first hand horror stories about their experience in Barcelona and in fact my very first plan to go here was cancelled because a friend of mine (from Europe) told me that it is not safe for me to go there alone, well because in 2010 Barcelona was still Europe’s “capital” for pickpockets. I know friends who can attest to that and my husband too was pick-pocketed 7 times during his backpacking teen-years in Spain. Yep 7 times! :P

But then I found a very good deal for flight tickets if I will fly back to Dubai from Barcelona. Of course I want to see Barcelona too, but maybe with my husband or with group of friends, but since my friend cannot join me in Barcelona after our Ibiza, I knew that I will have to see this intriguing city alone. So I booked only 2 nights, I just want to see Gaudi’s works and Dali’s museum only anyway so I thought that’s enough.

Dali Museum

Dali Museum

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

The moment I stepped in outside the metro station at Passeig de Garcia going to my hostel, I was greeted by Gaudi’s Casa Mila and my jaw dropped with admiration right away! It’s quite a walk towards my hostel so whilst walking along this road, I can’t help but feel sorry for judging Barcelona too soon! That moment was when I knew I would love this city and that I will visit it again someday. And that I should stay longer!

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Gaudi’s Casa Mila at Passeig de Garcia

My hostel, Generator Hostel, is at the Sagrada Familia neighborhood area or the Eixample district, I picked that area because I was trying to avoid old city area where they say is a bit “dangerous” and also I wanted to be close to Gaudi’s works to save my limited time in Barcelona. It is also the same train station to where I will take a train going to Figueres to see Dali’s museum. Though the hostel is generally good, I feel that it is a hotel trying to be like a hostel to cater for younger guests, I didn’t feel the same atmosphere I had with other hostels I’ve been to in Europe.

I joined the “free” walking tour (tip-based tour) to the old city so I won’t be roaming around alone, I thought it’s safer that way. I love the old city or the Barrio Gotic apparently, the bohemian atmosphere combined with exquisite arts and architecture is enough for me to tell myself I owe Barcelona another visit and should be longer next time.

Rain is a rare sight in Barcelona, but it did rain when I was there and during our walking tour! Despite the rain, our guide was very knowledgeable in history, particularly in Catalan’s political history, so we were quite entertained especially with her inside stories. We’ve only managed to see Barcelona Cathedral, La Rambla, El Born District, La Llotja, Plaça Nova, etc were among those I can still remember.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it on time to go inside Sagrada Familia, they stop accepting visitors after 7pm even if they close at 8pm. I was very disappointed because I was only few minutes late and I know I won’t be able to do this anymore on my 2nd day as I would rather go to Figueres for Dali’s Museum.

Before I went to Figueres, I went to visit one last work of Gaudi, the Casa Battlo at Passeig de Gracia, 43. This is the smallest of Gaudi’s famous works, the building with the dragon on the roof. I went too early so it was still close, besides I don’t have time anyway to go inside had it been open when I came. Then I went back to see Casa Mila again to take photos this time, This is the one that greeted me on my first glimpse of Barcelona.

I didn’t have time to visit Park Guell because it started to rain again! So I decided to head off to Figueres already.

 

The Dali Museum is located in Figueres, in the province of Girona, and is about 143 km from Barcelona. The Dali Museum is the second most visited museum in Spain, after the Museo del Prado in Madrid. I took the RENFE train from Passeig de Gracia station to Figueres station, for around 2-hour journey. I made a mistake of taking the bus going back to Barcelona, because it took more time with bus at the same price!thumb_IMG_8637_1024

From Figueres Station you can just walk going to Dali’s Museum, just follow the street sign and ask around if you don’t see any group of other visitors walking towards there. It was a good walk actually because you will see a bit of the quaint little town of Figueres. There were lots of interesting shops and restaurants too especially along the cobbled streets of Sant Pere and Girona.

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The reason why I want to go here was because I did a school report about his life and works when I was still in the university. Salvador Dali is one of the modern surrealist artist I admire because he’s non-conformist not just in his art but with his personality as well. His eccentricity was often misunderstood

The Dali Museum is very different so it will be either you love it or you hate it. Dali designed it in the last years of his life, designing every little detail. You’ll see bread buns that looks like poos on the exterior walls, then on top of the museum you see golden mannequins like the Oscars and, well giant eggs :P

Once you enter the museum you go to a patio that has his Cadillac, and on top of the hood of the car is a sculpture of a woman, perhaps modeled after Gala, his one true love, that is often the subject on most of his artworks.

His famous work is the “Persistence of Memory” but this painting is at MOMA in New York, but you can still one painting with one of those clocks in it. My favorite by far though is the “Gala Nude Walking at the Sea” that when you squint your eyes from afar, the painting metamorphoses into the face of Abraham Lincoln! Just genius.

There are about 5 stories in the circular building, filled with Dali’s art. As I exit the museum, there is souvenir shop inside that I bought some fridge magnets. But then I regretted it afterwards because just outside the museum, there are a lot of vendors similar items for a very much cheaper price >.<

 

On my way back to the bus/train station, I took time to walk slowly to appreciate the beauty of this quaint small town, seeing the Esglesia Sant Pere, Placa de Ajuntamient and the Rambla. Best of all, I saw some street signage directing to the Natal House of Salvador Dali, so I followed it and saw it from the outside! ;)

It was already late when I got back to Barcelona, and since it was my last night in Spain, I just called it a night, knowing that I will return most definitely in Spain, particularly in Barcelona. Maybe at that time, I will cover the southern cities like Sevilla, Granada, or Cordoba. And also at some point in my life, I also want to do the walk of Camino de Santiago, I just want to have a purpose first before I commit myself doing it, we shall see…

Barcelona is the last leg of my Spanish trip and I must say that it may not be that perfect in the experience of others, but it was almost perfect with mine. I know 2 nights are not enough to conclude that, but I know somehow that I love it because of the vibe it gave me, let’s just say that Barcelona and I understood each other. We are both not perfect, but who is anyway? ^.^

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The Catalan flag.

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