Barcelona!

Yes, I know I just got back from a big trip to Hawaii. And I know that I have traded in 6-hour jetlag from one direction for 6-hour jetlag in the other! But in my defense, I have wanted to get to Barcelona for years. Unfortunately, Chaim is not much of a traveller, and every time I put my name in the hat to serve as rabbi on a cruise that was leaving from or ending up in Barcelona, I was never lucky enough to get that gig. But this time I hit the jackpot! A cruise that begins and ends in Barcelona that the cruise line is paying for in full for myself and a guest (usually guest staff and guest have to pay own airfare and a nominal per-day cruise fee). On this trip, my dear friend Julie (and former college roommate sophomore year) is my plus-one. Julie lives in Boston and is a professional violinist. My responsibilities will be to lead the Passover Seders on-board the ship. And in addition to Barcelona, we get a day in Valencia, Cartagena, Córdoba (Malaga port), Gibraltar, and Seville (Cadiz port). Couldn’t pass it up, would you?

Julie and I came a couple of days early to pack in as much of Barcelona as we could before sailing off tomorrow afternoon. In addition to spending rare and sacred time with Julie, my dear friend Laura (former room-mate from my days in Santa Cruz, CA whose wedding I just co-officiated at in March!) is   here with her new husband Jon, having just honeymooned in France and now in Barcelona so Jon could attend a conference. So in a wonderful confluence of calendars, Laura’s days have been free to bop around with me and Julie.

Here I am beaming between two of my dearest friends, Julie and Laura

Here I am beaming between two of my dearest and oldest friends, Julie and Laura, both former room-mates.

For me, coming to Barcelona was all about seeing the incredible architectural gems of Antoni Gaudi that are all over the city. As one of his architecture professors apparently said, “I don’t know if we just graduated a genius or a madman.” His stuff is wildly inventive! You have to see it to believe, so none of my pictures will do it justice.

Basilica of Sagrada Familia from afar. Gaudi spent over 40 years on this project, still unfinished since his death in 1926.

Basilica of Sagrada Familia from afar. Gaudi spent over 40 years on this project, still unfinished since his death in 1926.

This is how the light from some of the stained glass windows lit up the ceiling. A truly awesome sight.

This is how the light from some of the stained glass windows lit up the ceiling at Sagrada Familia. A truly awesome sight.

These structures are on the roof of Gaudi's Palau Guell. The inside was magnificent, but the roof was the real Wow! These are all functional vents or smokestacks. He looked at the skyline of the city and wondered why everything had to look just so darn functional and not aesthetically pleasing in any way.

These structures are on the roof of Gaudi’s Palau Guell. The inside was magnificent, but for me the roof was the real Wow! These are all functional vents or smokestacks. He looked at the skyline of the city and wondered why everything had to look just so darn functional and not aesthetically pleasing in any way.

I'm standing on the roof of Gaudi's La Pedrera building photographing into the courtyard below. These are the windows of the apartments across from where I'm standing.

I’m standing on the roof of Gaudi’s La Pedrera building photographing into the courtyard below. These are the windows of the apartments across from where I’m standing. You can see how the shape undulates. Both La Pedrera and Palau Guell are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The outside of Casa Batllo, another of Gaudi's fantastical structures.

The outside of Casa Batllo, another of Gaudi’s fantastical structures.

Lest you think us fanatics, it was truly NOT all-Gaudi-all the-time. We also went to the Boqueria market off the famous boulevard La Rambla (quite wonderful, but doesn’t hold a candle to the markets I saw in Morocco), visited the absolutely revelatory Picasso museum that holds works, I assure you, that you would never believe were his, and went to the warm, welcoming Reform synagogue in Barcelona on Friday night for services and Shabbat dinner, where I was called into service to offer an impromptu d’var Torah (then translated into Spanish –possibly into Catalan, the official language,  I’m not positive — sentence-by-sentence), that actually had folks crying! That was a shining moment in my rabbinic career.

On Friday, Julie logged us in at 26,000 steps on her Fitbit step-counter. That’s about 11 miles, and that was on our first day, having arrived sleepless from a red-eye that landed at 7AM (1 AM east coast time)!

My new friends Yvette and David whom I met in the market. Ask, and I'll tell you a wonderful story about our meeting.

My new friends Yvette and David (former Brits now living in Canada) whom I met in the market. Ask, and I’ll tell you a wonderful story about our meeting.

Fresh-squeezed juices lined up at a stall in La Boqueria.

Fresh-squeezed juices lined up at a stall in La Boqueria.

Tomorrow morning we will take a 2-hour private walking tour of Jewish Barcelona before heading to the ship. Gotta come back soon to Barcelona (or do I say that about every place I ever visit?)


 

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3 thoughts on “Barcelona!

  1. What a beautiful city, I am crazy about Gaudi’s work and love his house and the park, could go back any time.
    A wonderful trip to you and my best for Passover. Shalom Françoise

  2. What fun, Pam! I am entirely jealous that you get to travel on such great trips but I did have an opportunity to go to Barcelona a few years back and saw most of the same sites. Really loved Gaudi and the magnificent older Picasso works in the museum.
    Have a great time on the cruise and a wonderful Passover,
    Michelle

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