Barcelona, like the rest of Spain, is going through hard times. Unemployment is on the rise, specially among the young, many of whom are leaving for jobs abroad if they can get any.
It is also a vibrant city associated with art, architecture and design, not least with Gaudi’s Parque Guell that overlooks the entire city and the sea beyond, and his “Casa Milá” with its singular rooftop – you can see it in the background in the photo taken from the top of Paseo de Gracia.
The capital of a culture that has produced Miró, Dalí, Casals, that nurtured the young Picasso, that gave us Catalan Modernism, that developed its own distinctive cuisine and arguably the best football team ever, is unlikely to take things lying down.
Next year is the 300th anniversary of Catalunya’s loss of independence to Spain after the Treaty of Utrech and so I was reminded that this culture and language have had to survive many difficulties, and the growing feeling among many in the city is for separation and independence – the Catalan flag was everywhere we went.
By the way, we Brits can hang our heads in shame; despite an agreement with the Catalans we abandoned them in 1714 to the tender mercies of their foes while we got Gibraltar and Menorca in return.…perfidious Albion.
Anyway, enough history.
belatrova walked everywhere, visited galleries and design outlets, and used the efficient and smooth metro and buses to go further afield. We really liked the Room Service Design Gallery, run the day we visited by Jordi, and which displays furniture by the Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek – sustainability, efficiency and social responsibility are his guiding principles, and his stuff is visibly hand made, using mainly recycled material.
The gallery also takes seriously the promotion of young designers and has a section for graduates to show their work. Drop in when and if you’re there; the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) is a block away and the neighbourhood is part of the city in which anybody could easily spend a day walking, drinking, snacking and rubber necking. Which is what we did.
By the way, watch out for skate boarders zipping past as they are encouraged to use the open area in front of the building.
Here are two close-up shots of tapas that we thought might inspire some new colour combinations in our ceramics. Or perhaps not.
Monumental window, part of an early 20th century building on the Diagonal, where we went to see how our tables looked away from home and asked two of our customers to allow us into their homes to take a snap or two.
Victoria and Josep Maria keep theirs in a space filled with greenery and the effect is lush and fresh. Veronica and Alberto have theirs nicely set off by the dark floorboards and deep green of the furniture.
Both tables are getting a lot of TLC from their owners.
belatrova’s top 6 favourite things to do in Barcelona:
Go up onto the roof of Casa Milá (also called “La Pedrera”)
Visit the geese in Barcelona Cathedral’s cloisters
Have a coffee at Meson del Café off St Jaume’s Square
Take the No 14 bus from Calvet/Fransesc Maciá down to Siete Puertas
Eat stuffed squid at the Bar Neutral (Ganduxer 26, Barcelona)
Visit the Fundació Miró – a quick trip inspired belatrova to make a tripod ceramic bowl.