Barcelona Travel Log — Day 11 — Us versus the Mountain

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With our eyes set firmly on Montjuic, a mountain featuring several big museums and the Olympic stadium, it was time to forgo our sleep-in routine and get cracking on the day bright and early. After a big breakfast we set off, determined to conquer the hill. We were so quick to get out the door, we actually had time to spare so we decided to try the MACBA again. Low and behold, it was open!

The MACBA. In short, this museum had some nice pieces but mostly just stood as the justification for people hating contemporary artists. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So we arrived at the doors of the MACBA just before their doors opened for business at 11am, meaning for one of the first times this whole trip we had to line up. The line wasn’t too bad, except for when this old couple butt directly in front of us. We were so astonished by their flagrant butting that Jeff assumed they were with the group ahead of us, but we quickly discovered they were just jerks. In a hilarious moment of poetic justice, a woman came out moments later, gave Clara and Jeff free tickets to the gallery and escorted us in ahead of the line. The old woman looked like the vein in her head was about to explode. Take that, jerks!

So back to bashing contemporary artists. Jeff has decided, upon seeing these exhibits, that he will now become a successful contemporary artist, spending approximately 5 hours putting together his entire body of work. Here’s a brief sampling of his exhibit:

  • Display case containing several crumpled napkins. Title: Untitled (A crumb too far, a stain too big)
  • A black room with an audio tape playing various guttural sounds (groan, groan, sniff, cough, repeat)
  • A canvas painted totally black. Title: Untitled (Anti-Painting)
  • Several barrels containing one days worth of urine. Title: The Art Academy
  • A pile of blankets. Title: Untitled (Insomnia)

For clarification, this exhibit really bugged Jeff because much of the pieces appeared to be something the “artists” (read: 5 year olds) put together the night before, including blank canvases, torn up cardboard placed in piles, countless pieces titled “untitled” followed by a title in brackets, and totally creepy videos that made no sense what so ever. To Jeff, these exhibits would be like if an acclaimed author just sat down at his computer and wrote 100,000 completely random words without any punctuation and tried to pass it off as Shakespeare. Seriously people…it was cool when Duchamp and Debord “punked” the art world, enough of the “non-exhibit.”

Having said that, the top floor of the MACBA did have some legitimate art, specifically some very cool pieces by Bruce Nauman (whom Clara loves). There was also some more solid Tapies stuff. Now that is art!

A sidewalk with posts, lamps, and other barriers preventing access

Seriously Jeff, you won't like the MNAC...you might as well just turn around. Love, the city planners of Barcelona

After making one more scan of the museum for the line-butters, in the hopes of getting revenge by standing in front of them at every piece they tried to see, it was time to grab some chow and hit the mountain. The ultimate goal of this trip was to visit the MNAC, which is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. For those of you who have never been, you essentially have to climb a CN Tower’s worth of stairs to get to the front door of this place, making us a bit nervous. Luckily Clara’s expert navigatory skills once again came into play as she discovered some windy streets that lead around the stairs and provided access to the impressive collection. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t account for “design stupidity,” including numerous barriers, posts and water fountains placed in the middle of the sidewalk. It was like someone really didn’t want Jeff to see this museum. After climbing the mountain, slaying the dragon, and rescuing the princess we finally arrived at the front doors of the MNAC and were rewarded with a breath-taking panorama of Barcelona. The view was worth the trek alone.

A few of Barcelona from above

Click to see a detailed version of the photo

Again, Jeff’s math skills were “enhanced,” as the MNAC charged us 11 euros for 4 tickets. We have no idea how this divides out or why we were given a forth ticket. Maybe Jeff’s wheelchair needed it’s own ticket? Maybe they knew about Melody’s imaginary friend who’s been getting a free ride all trip. The exhibits were absolutely stunning, restoring our faith in the world of art. Finally, we got to see paintings that actually looked like something (although many of them involved decapitation for some reason) and were produced by true masters of their craft. We even got to see some Dali (Jeff’s man-crush). The MNAC was also our first Canadian-sighting, as three separate people, all from Ottawa strangely, came up to say hi. The first two girls actually had a third friend in a wheelchair waiting at the bottom of the massive flight of steps and were looking for a way up while the third man noticed Jeff’s Canadian flag on his chair and started a conversation.

With the mountain conquered and our bellies grumbling, we headed back to the hotel before heading out for a light dinner. Exhausted from our epic journey, we decided to just relax on a patio for a bit, eating some nice bocadillos, and save up some energy for our last full day together tomorrow. In other news, Jeff and Melody ate a dessert tonight called a “Gypsy Arm,” and it was racial-iffic!

Tomorrow we get felt up in La Rambla before heading out for a fancy dinner at one of the hottest resturaunts in Barcelona. They serve boiled eggs filled with chocolate. WITH CHOCOLATE!!! We’re both very excited.

Nighto,

– Jeff and Clara