2011 - Barcelona

4 - 9 November 2011

Having had dreams of Barcelona sunshine and blue skies, we arrived to dark clouds and the first rain for 3 months! Tour manager, Paul, took us to meet our local guide Begonia and umbrellas to the fore we walked the colourful Ramblas market, and saw the fascinating Gothic area with its Cathedral and the Royal Palace.

The next day dawned dry for a guided coach tour of the city and Gaudi’s Parc Guell. The clever use of broken tiles to decorate walls, steps, seats and fantasy creatures proved most interesting. Next stop: La Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), Gaudi’s great unfinished masterpiece. The interior is unique with the light through the stained glass windows, gargoyles, pinnacles and doors; while the exterior is an art display in itself. Too soon we left for the Picasso museum, where examples of his early work revealed his genius .

On Sunday we enjoyed a guided tour of Joan Miro’s work. The tragedy of the Spanish Civil War was obvious in many of his later works. After lunch, the ancient Monastery of Pedralbes, partly inhabited by 20 nuns and founded in 1326 by Elisenda, wife of James II of Anjou (Spanish and Italian paintings and sculptures).

Next day we drove to Monserrat, its monastery clinging to the craggy mountains. In the museum we saw the Black Madonna and wonderful paintings and icons, after which we returned to Barcelona for some shopping and more of Gaudi’s work at Casa Mila or Batilo.

The next day we travelled to Figueres, home of Salvador Dali, for a tour of the Museum. I wondered: ‘was he maddened by the Catalan winds or was he just having great fun: the red settee lips, the pink sideboard nose, the two picture eyes and the large blonde wig creating the face of Mae West!’ The hologram of squares and a naked lady when squinted at revealed a portrait of Abraham Lincoln! Returning to Barcelona we paused at Girona with its ancient cathedral and medieval streets.

Before going to the airport we made a whistle-stop tour of the National Museum to view amazing twelfth century frescoes, rescued from crumbling churches and then reassembled.

We will never forget the many varied highlights of our visit. Thank you Brigid and Frank for organising another fantastic tour.