July 11, 2004
City of The Phallus
DAY 257: I don't know if it was intentional, but I've heard that Barcelona seems to be obsessed with phallic symbols.
I was up by seven to wake up before my 24-hour luggage locker at the train station expired. I think I was still a little out of it because I ended up totally confused in the Metro systems, even getting on a train going the wrong way. This shouldn't be the case because Barcelona's Metro system is usually easy to navigate with easy to read maps, a good signage system and even a digital countdown at the platforms to tell you how long it is before the next train comes.
"I'm surprised how much I don't hear Spanish," bilingual Jack said, biting into his sandwich. Most of what we heard was the American English coming out of the hundreds of tourists around, and most of the written language we saw was in the regional language of Catalan, which looks like a blend of Spanish and French.
Refreshed and ready to go, we started our sightseeing of the day. First up, the Montjuïc via a modern funicular. Literally "Hill of the Jews," Montjuïc is the big hill to the southeast of the city -- according to history (and my guidebook), whoever controlled it controlled the city. Nowadays it holds picturesque parks and historical buildings.
Wandering the Park Montjuïc with its exhilarating views, we visited the Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, hosting a permanent collection of regional Gothic and Roman art, as well as temporary exhibitions of Peruvian and Chinese artifacts. We wandered the Olympic Stadium, stage of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. Seeing the futuristic spire in the Olympic park, along with other free standing column structures in the area, I started to notice the trend of Barcelona's phallic symbols -- even the flowers looked a bit phallic. Surrounded by them everywhere we went, sophomoric Jack and I started singing "Penis Time" to the melody of Semisonic's "Closing Time."
After wandering around the Miro Foundation, a museum in the Montjuïc dedicated to Barcelona-born Modernist artistic luminary Joan Miro and other Modern and contemporary artists, we took the funicular back down the Hill of The Jews and the Metro to La Sagrada Familia, legendary architect Anton Gaudi's famous unfinished cathedral, "the world's most visited construction site" according to Let's Go. A permanent work-in-progress, the cathedral attracts millions to witness its completely unfinished splendor with its unique Gaudi architectural style and its sculpted depiction of the Passion of Christ by Cubist sculptor Josep Subirach. Above all they come for the view from one of its eight phallic towers (eighteen were initially planned).
Jack and I waited about forty minutes on line to ride up the tower's elevator with other American tourists and four teenage Spanish girls who had no idea what they were on line for -- after thirty minutes of waiting they discovered they were on line for the elevator at an additional cost of two Euros and left. Despite Jack's acrophobia, he came up with me on the one of the last lifts of the day to the observation platforms where we enjoyed the view of Barcelona, including the sights of yet another phallic tower(picture above).
Amongst the locals in the club scene of Port Olympic were the sexy, voluptuous Spanish pole dancers wearing next to nothing, prompting everyone to gawk and take photos, like Nicolas and his digital camera on his cell phone. The pole dancers were a perfect fit to the Barcelonan scene as they sprouted up at least one more phallus -- in my pants.
If you enjoy this daily travel blog, please post a comment! Give me suggestions, send me on missions, let me know how things are going back home in the USA. Knowing that I have an audience will only force me to make this blog more entertaining as the days go by. Donīt forget to bookmark it and let a friend know!