Monday, September 1, 2014

Miro, Tibidabo, and A Meal at Montiel--The Best of Barcelona!

Joan Miro: The Garden
When visiting Barcelona, there is really no end of things to do. There's the beach, the architecture, the cathedrals, the Rambla, the dining, the Olympic park, soccer and the museums...just to mention a few options. So it's never easy to decide where to go next. We elected to take in the Fundacion Joan Miro. WE heard that the Picasso Museum was also interesting, but that it had mostly early sketches and few later works. Miro was a native of Catalan who worked as a painted, sculptor and ceramist until his death on Christmas day in 1983 at the age of 90! Subsequent to his death, his wife and numerous other interested parties formed the Fundacion Joan Miro to showcase his artwork, life and promote Catalan artists.
The building is attractive and sits high up on the hill about Parc Montjuic with excellent views of Barcelona.
 The building was designed by Josep Lluis Sert to ensure that this work could also be made available to the public and exhibited. He designed the building with courtyards and terraces and to create a natural path for visitors to move through the building. It's a lovely whitewashed type building with many wonderful works by the painter inside. It's a must for modern art fans. We highly recommend it.
After enjoying this museum, Paul and I took the Montjuic funicular down to our subway station. 
Paul thinks "fun" is a synonym for we ride lots of these. This one didn't have particularly good views, but it was still a good ride down the mountain. Since we walked up, it was welcome!
From here we proceeded back to our lovely hotel and decided, "Why not go up another mountain and funicular?" After all, they were there. 

It was convenient enough for us to ascend up to Mount Tibidabo, since we are actually staying on Avenuida Tibidabo. They make it easy with the blue tram.
This tram has its final stop right outside our hotel. It ascends to the church and park above the city.
We then had to get on another funicular (guess whose idea that was!) :) to make the final ascent up the mountain.
The tracks up to Tibidabo

We passed the other "counterweighted car" at the halfway mark.

Great views back on the city of Barcelona. Mediterranean in the background!
When we arrived at the top of the hill about 15 minutes later, it was strange combo of an old Catholic cathedral and an amusement park sitting in juxtaposition with one another. 
If you don't get a great enough view from the ground, there's a variety of rides to help you "get out there."
This was a nice vantage point to appreciate the city below.
The gherkin of Barcelona

Alternative energy plant

The next church down the hill.
After hanging out for a while and seeing Barcelona from on high, we visited the church which as really lovely inside and out. Quite a feat to move all that stonework,etc. up that steep slope!
Catedral Sagrat de Tibidabo

Interior View


Prayer Grotto

Watch out Notre Dame...someone else is looking for a score!

Upper chapel

The apostle of the Ferris Wheel

The church was really beautiful and a work of art, but it seemed bizarre to have all these rides sitting right at the steps of this cathedral. Very Disney-esque!
The church of the carousel?

The location afforded a great look at the radio tower too.

Paul was so disturbed by this odd combination of religious, techno  and carnival objects, he had to have a cava to calm down.

We did, nonetheless enjoy the trip up and the walk back down the mountain. There are a lot of swanky houses in this "hood" as well and we enjoyed looking at old "haciendas" built in the late 18 and early 1900s

From this point, we took a short break in our hotel before heading out to dinner at Montiel. It was a degustation menu and a veritable feast for the eyes and the stomach. Paul couldn't stop taking photos and posting them in real time on Facebook!
Le gourmand peruses the menu at Montiel

A trio of amuse bouche!

Petit fours is the final course.
We came home FULL and tired from a great day out in Barcelona. No complaints! 

Paul's Ponderings:  We decided to go to the Olympic Park to see the Joan Miro museum, but we arrived not too long before it closed up for the day, but enough time to have a look at most of it.   It's a bit of an uphill slog from the metro to the park on a hot day, but we made it.   That said, the Barcelona subway system is a bit confusing, but extensive, and this is from folks who have ridden subways all over the world.   We did get there, so all ended well.  The view from the hill at the top of Tibidabo was spectacular.  The church is huge and weirdly enough surrounded by an amusement park -- go figure.   We've been really impressed with the neighborhood up here, which is quite accessible to the center of town via metro, but more quiet and peaceful at night.   We ended up at Monteil in the Born district to eat, which was quite an experience (again) with Catalan dining.   The food was not quite so languorous from a delivery view, but still took a while due to the number of courses, which thankfully were small.   We had some unusual wines with it as well, such as a black picpoul.   From there it was a taxi back up the hill and a bit of rest before an early start out to Montserrat the next morning.  This is a great part of the country of Spain and a fascinating part of the world overall.  

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