On any given day, Picasso, beaches, and boobs go together—right? At least in Barcelona they do.
Picasso is a must. I grew up in a family that appreciated art. My mom and dad took us to as many museums as possible. When I visit a large city, it’s kind of a ritual to visit an art museum. Especially since they usually have great collections. And the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, did not disappoint.
As my husband, Jim, always finds the deal, we opted for the “First Sunday of the Month Free” option to visit the Museu Picasso. Jim also discovered that you can book your “free” visit on-line. This way, you avoid waiting in an actual long line outside the museum with all the uninformed. The online booking system indicated that anything before 10 am was less crowed. So, we decided to beat the crowd and arrive at 9:40 am. And I am glad we did. Even at that hour, the museum was busy. But first, I must describe the museum itself.
The museum houses one of the most extensive collections of Picasso’s artwork. Something like 4,251 works exhibited. But the most amazing aspect of the museum is the building. It’s five adjoining medieval palaces. This alone is a spectacular site for architectural buffs. Add the journey to the museum through the “old town” or “Gothic Quarter” labyrinth of side streets. And this is a must visit. We even came across this swanky jazz club called Story. Ignore the garbage full of bottles and look at all those books. Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening listening to jazz surround by books?
Back to the Museu Picasso. We decided to spend the 5 € each on the audio tour. Great investment but I’d love to meet the person who programed these cell phone type devices. I enjoyed the refresher on Picasso’s life and how he came to be one of the greats. But there are some defects with the experience. You’re supposed to walk into a room, look for the number on the wall next to the painting and enter it on the touch pad. But the numbers are not always chronological. Half a dozen times, Ryan, Madison, or Jim would interrupt what I was listening to and ask, “What number am I supposed to be on?” And then sometimes the number on the wall didn’t correspond to any art in that room.
After 1 hour, 30 minutes, our kids were…restless. We did take breaks with the promise of “the best is yet to come.” But the audio tour kind of ended abruptly. As my husband put it, “We never found out what happened to Picasso in his later years.” We know Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91 — Thank you, Ryan. Those after school art class with Julie Stover paid off. But what about his artwork between 1949-73? Regardless, the one thing that everyone noticed about Picasso’s art was all those boobs. Whether they were abstract or not, they were always present. And in Barcelona, boobs are an everyday site at the beaches.
When we rented our GoCar, we stopped at the famous La Barceloneta beach area. I pointed out to my family that in Spain, women go topless at the beaches. Ryan didn’t get it. Madison laughed. And Jim’s mouth fell open. Yes, my husband forgot. But then again (and we’re all adults here so I can say this), boobs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not like Playboy Playmates are strutting around the beach.
The daily pilgrimage to the beach is astounding. The subway is stuffed full of tourists and locals and the streets alive with cafes and vendors. The temperature on our outing hovered right around 26º Celsius (that’s 80º Fahrenheit for us American’s). Once at the beach, good luck finding a place to set down your towel. The week before we left for Barcelona, we spent the day at the beach in Santa Cruz. We showed up early and no one sat within 25 feet of us. But as the day went on, more and more people sat closer and closer to us. But the closest anyone got was a good 10 ft. I thought that was even too close. In Barcelona, people sit within inches of you. This makes for very close proximity to your neighbor. But everyone is civilized about it and respects your small patch of sand. For me, it was a bit close but made for good people watching and interesting conversation with our kids.
As for the rest of our day at the beach, nothing too exciting. We just sat around, ate lunch, played card games, splashed around in the water and laughed a lot. We returned to our apartment, showered and settled in for the evening. Then prepared a home cooked meal of fresh scallops we picked up at the local market.
It was a very good first Sunday.
p.s. For all those inquiring minds. Did I go topless? I’ll leave that up to your imagination.