Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Markets and (Shitty) Museums - Barcelona

Our plan had been to get to the food market first thing in the morning, in time for morning tea. That didn't quite happen as anticipated. Our first stop on the Ramblas had been the tourist information centre to find out about tickets to the Palau Musica. The woman there had advised us to book the tickets in advance, something which could only be done at the Palau itself. As we had a very specific day on which we wanted to see it, this made it advisable to head there directly so we didn't miss out (tickets to the towers of the Sagrada Familia were already sold out).

However, along the way we stumbled upon an antique market something Mum and I are more than happy to have a rummage though. It was a knicky-knack kind of market with lots of jewellery of varying ages, and I noticed (because it is an interest) lots of dressing room pieces; pince-nez and spectacles, tortoise shell combs and little cases and a considerable amount of Ivory. I had a field day and could easily have spent longer time and more money there after a good rummage.

Also on route was the Roman Necropolis, once considered beyond the other walls of the Roman city Barcino, but now well within the heart of town. It was rather sweet, a city square with a view down to the Roman level where a little garden path led between two rows of tombs.

Having finally bought the tickets to the Palau, we back tracked to the Ramblas and crossed into the famous food market there. Oh my God!!! Had I had access to a fully equipped kitchen and several more days I would have easily created a feast or two. To have been able to use any stall as a starting point for a meal and then to just ramble from there, choosing between the familiar and the exotic, snacking on fresh seafood, juices, cured meats... as you go. 

yes, yes those are bunny rabbit tails you see hanging before you. 

The meat, the cheese, the fruit, the mushrooms, the seafood!!!! If only it hadn't been just lunch we were shopping for.

After lunch we headed in the direction of the port, past a monument to Christopher Columbus. While the lions looked a little better than those in Trafalgar Square, what was scary was the statues of the native Americans grateful for the introduction of Christianity.


Mum and I were interested in visiting the Museum of Catalan History (which the info centre had told us would be open that afternoon) while Dad was going to go in search of a new transformer for the eeepc which had blown, and was no longer able to charge the computer.

Alas, as we walked in the door, it was obvious that the museum had closed half an hour earlier at 2pm. What was worse was that one of the museum attendants treated us as though we were idiots when we questioned the closure and showed her the document the tourist information centre had given us. As such museums rely on tourists like us not only for their purpose but also for some of their income, we decided to leave very pointed feedback.
In a less than charitable mood we headed into the old walled city for a meander. Such random buildings as the ones below, and occasional gargoyles improved our mood.

Having found the walls, we wandered within their confines and found an insignificant church trying to charge outrageous entrance fees (stupidly they also had glass doors on their church so Mum just stood at the door and aimed her camera inwards). More promising was that just across from it was a shop selling the most amazing looking cakes, though we were still too full from lunch to be able to indulge. Mum then found ice cream, before we stumbled upon a museum that more than compensated for the closure of the other.

This was the museum of the history of Barcelona (or Barcino as it was known in Roman times). It was located in an old palace that had been moved, stone by stone, to its current location on top of the most amazing Roman ruins. Not only had they found a laundry, with dying facilities, but also a garum factory and a huge wine building with wine production and export.

Laundry; traces of dye are still visible in the trough. 

Even without the disappointment of the other museum, this one was amazing. Though the Roman ruins located not far below the current museum, there was a lift to transport you there, between level 2006 winding back through the years to BCE, when it was the Roman town of Barcino. There were comprehensive audio guides for the whole museum, including one room where your audio guide hooked in to the rolling video of the urban development of the city. The museum also included a few more modern rooms, including the Salo del Tinell and the Chapel to Saint Agatha. Once again, I think we left with the doors closing behind us and raced through the bookshop (thankfully where the majority of books were in Spanish and so less tempting to my wallet) in order to meet up with Dad.

The Salo del Tinell of the medieval Palau Reial Major

Ceiling of the Salo del Tinell

View from the Salo del Tinell

14th Century chapel dedicated to St Agatha. 

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