Sunday was a day we sent aside to wander the city; it was sunny and many museums are free late in the afternoon. We stumbled onto the Barcelona Marathon and a talented drumline cheering on the participants. Taking some advice from an English-Spanish language exchange, we went to a restaurant serving 1 Euro tapas all day – and discovered the joy of Spanish omelets. Five small sandwiches and onion rings later, we set out to the Arc de Triomf. It is almost impossible to walk around the city and not pass by at least a few churches. Sant Pau del Camp and Santa Maria del Mar happened to be on our path.
The Arc de Triomf is noticeably smaller than the more famous one in Paris, but it is made out of stunning red brick. And rather than semi-isolated placement in a roundabout, Barcelona’s version leads into a pedestrian avenue that also served as part of the marathon route.
South from the Arc is the massive Parc de la Ciutadella. All of Barcelona seems to use it as their living room. People were doing gymnastics, practicing yoga, dancing in the pavilions, and having parties under the trees. One of the main meeting points in the park is the (slightly over-the-top) Cascada Monumental. With dragons, phoenixes, water nymphs, and gold horses, what’s not to love?
Our intended destination for the afternoon was the Picasso Museum, but hundreds of others had the same idea. The line was about two blocks long. A staffer mentioned a 75+ minute wait to get inside the entrance. Rather than contend with that much of a crowd, we opted to go to the Maritime Museum instead. Just a 15 minute walk away and no lines!
There were no Picassos, but old, quirky nautical maps made up for that. And the Museum is housed in a beautiful structure built during the 1600s; from the 1300s-1700s the area served as the Royal Shipyards.
The crowning jewel of the collection is a replica of Juan de Austria’s flagship. It is about 200 feet long and only took 59 rowers to power it, even when fully loaded with soldiers and cannon. Due to the royalty being on board, it has all sorts of bright paint and ornamentation to dress it up.
Smaller fishing and leisure vessels filled another hall. A third was devoted to smaller objects like navigational aids and model ships.
A Sunday afternoon market sets up at the back of the museum, and covers both sides of the sidewalk and a small square. Shopping is much easier when I know there is no spare room in my two bags…