|Serena's modern interpretation of Salvador Dali|
Despite jet lag - or to spite it - we dropped our luggage off at the aptly named Splendum Suites and went in search of a few well-reviewed cafes and markets around Eixample. Though I'm still not a big fan of Spanish food - or just not yet - we had a good meal at a sidewalk bistro and found a dusty little market (open late on Sunday night) to grab some cereal and yogurt for the apartment for breakfast.
Which came really early, since all of us woke up around 4:30 am. When it was finally a decent hour, Raf and Marlowe and I set out to explore. After a quick (but beautifully crafted) caffe con leche and zumo naranja (orange juice), we found ourselves wending our way through grand treelined boulevards and window shopping along ritzy ramblas.
|Marlowe and Raf at Casa Mila (La Pedrera)|
Barcelona is the sort of magical place where you can happen upon a twisting palace of melting marshmallow towers, as we did, literally stumbling across a corner and looking up, into the beauty of La Pedrera, a building dreamed up by Barcelona's Dr. Suess of architecture, Antoni Gaudi.
What is it about Catalunya, the region that envelops Barcelona, that makes it produce mad geniuses like Gaudi, Dali and Picasso, classically trained artists who turned art, form and function on their ears?
I haven't found the answer yet, despite visiting the Dali museum in the Barri Gotic or wandering through Park Guell or studying Casa Batllo. But genius seems to be called forth from some other place, somewhere so deep within the artist it can't be tamed and can only exist without limitations.
Create columns that appear to be melting? Why not? Begin work on a church that won't be completed for a hundred years after your life is over? Certainly!
Perhaps the sheer madness of these ideas is what sets such genius apart from mere mortals... Not only could they dream up such flights of fancy, but they had the audacity to imagine they could be done.
It's disorienting to be in a city that exhibits such freedom alongside the neat and orderly 16-block grids of the master-planned Eixample district. But it's also lovely and alive and unpredictable, a good reminder that the flutter in my heart may be less of a struggle to understand and more of another crazy, impetuous, passionate feeling:
falling in love.