Barcelona had so much happening today we almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves. The morning started with cheering on the runners in a Barcelona marathon.
At the Barcelona Cathedral a folk band was playing traditional Catalan songs right in front on the steps. As the runners passed by.
And in the church square, next the to runners, locals danced the traditional Sardana. Groups of locals get in circles and hold hands. All their stuff is piled in the middle so no one steals anything. The hardcore dancers have spiffy white shoes. There is not a lot of movement to the dance but there are definite steps that go along with it. All the groups are separate but they know the songs and all start hopping at the same time. While tourists are welcome to join in, our family was happier just watching.
We were on the ball enough to make it to the Cathedral in time to see the dancing AND tour the church before they started charging 6 Euros a head. The cathedral I nice but the real shining glory is their adjacent cloister. It is a very tropical like garden with a pond. In the pond are white geese which are guardians for one of the saints. And this cathedral is a master at capitalizing on the votive memory candles. Usually a visitor can light a candle for a small fee. The place has gone all electronic – there are no candles – all electronic votives. You put money in a machine and for every .10Euro a candle will light up. That is so very efficient and keeps the candle dust from mussing up the ceiling.
We took a Rick Steves walking tour through the Gothic part of town, the Barri Gotic. It had a lot of good information about he development of Barcelona from the Roman times. It also helped burn some time until 1500 – after 1500 a couple of museums were FREE!!!! The first museum was the Frederic Mares Museum to see the collectors collection. That is a fancy way to say Mares was a hoarder – but a really good one. He is what all hoarders aspire to be. He didn’t just collect eclectic items, he focused on specific items and went all out to get anything of that item in existence. Next he actually arranged his stuff in nice cases in a pleasing manner – a very good hoarder.
About half the collection was religious groups. There mush have been dozens of full sized carved wooden crucifixes, untold Marys holding the baby Jesus and oodles of periphery items that are very important to worship. Where did all of this come from, did a 16th century church decoration shop go out of business and have a sale? Where he amassed the items is unclear, but amass he did.
The other half of the collection were just things – like the 50 or so candle snuffers – all scissor style.
Pipes. My grandfather had a few pipes in his collection – maybe a couple dozen. This guy had an entire case of pipes – I jest – he had an entire room of cases of pipes,
Hat pins! The ladies room had lady things like hat pines – two other shelves of hat pins like this. No pictures, but the number of fans was easily in the hundreds.
The pictures had to stop but there were so many items he collected There were holy water holders, irons, fake flower bouquets made of shells, cigar bands, art made of hair, playing cards, clocks, watches, ashtrays, dolls, eyeglasses, walking sticks, on and on and on. The only way he could have possible developed his collection is through stealing. He was a sculpture by trade – no way he had enough money to buy it all. It was theft, has to be.
Our other free museum was the history museum. It was basically a short movie about the growth of Barcelona the past 8,000 years and then an elevator trip to the basement to tour the ruins of the old Roman city. It was a little different than the open air ruins we are used to.
Barcelona has the best street artists we’ve seen in Europe. In a highly acoustic area by the Cathedral we were treated to a violinist and later, an opera singer. Brody even asked to stop by the opera singer for a second time. It was like the city had a sound track for the day.