Picasso was born in Malaga and brought up in Barcelona. I read that his dad was a painter and art teacher and yet by the age of 13 Pablo Picasso’s paintings were better than his father’s. The collection starts with Picasso’s paintings dated 1895. I didn’t get an audio guide this time and so have to rely on the writings on the wall. I calculate the age and is amazed that these paintings were done when he was only 14 years old. As we go through the rooms we can see how his paintings evolved with maturity and the influence of friendships with other artists. I was never a fan of Picasso and missed his museums in Paris and Malaga but am starting to see how his creations captivated the imagination. I hear snippets of a guide explaining his work to a group and am mesmerised with some of his work. This feeling only envelopes me occasionally and I bathe in the moment. Watching the collection was like poetry in motion. I finally start to see the attraction of Picasso and indeed of cubism.
With the Barcelona card, the Picasso museum is free and near here is a chocolate museum which is also included in the card. Here we show the card and get our entrance tickets, which is happily a bar of delicious chocolate which once we scan to get entry we start devouring. Chocolate models of Asterix and friends, gladiators, the smurfs and even the Sagrada Família is on display. We order a mug of hot chocolate and wait for it to be prepared at the end of the visit. It is a thick cup of melted chocolate in milk. We find a table and settle down to finish it.
I get my map and information out to decide what to do next. Murali points out that we need to enter our information on the Barcelona cards. I take my wallet and cards out to fill the details. A man is talking to Murali and I leave him to get on with it. The conversation continues and I look up. Something makes me turn around just in time to notice his accomplice’s hand an inch away from my wallet which is on the table. I had forgotten to put it away. I quickly grab it and the two men disappear. I am shaking at the thought of what might have been. Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets and we had been warned. I had been cautious, but hadn’t realised how easily we could be duped. I silently thank my guardian angel who is forever watching over me, the presence which made me look up at the right moment. Another five seconds and I would have had to face the hassle of cancelling my cards and the inconvenience that came with it.
Next stop is the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, another important church in the city. Paying to go into each church is starting to get a bit tiresome and we have a look at it from the outside and walk to the next church. Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi is a 14th century Gothic church. We buy the basic tickets without the tower entry. A rest and walkabout later, it is time to leave. The rose window which adorns the exit is one of the largest in the world.
Once again we finish the day by visiting another one of Gaudi’s creations. The first house he was commissioned to build. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Casa Vicens is a smaller house built with the idea of intimacy of emotion and desire. Here there are no undulating curves but influences from Catalan, Islamic, Japanese and English inspirations and techniques. With anyone else the combination of colours and patterns would have looked like a clash of ideas and a mishmash of cultures but here it is transformed into a haven of calm and beauty.