place: barcelona, spain

Jodi Rose at Barceloneta

Jodi Rose at Barceloneta

Jodi Rose at Barceloneta

reason for travelling

I most often travel for work— attending festivals, making site-specific projects and related art—so Barcelona holds a special place in my heart as the only reason I go there is to visit close friends, enjoy the ambience and relax into their luscious apartment and lifestyle.

I didn’t fall in love with Barcelona straight away; over many visits the city has woven her enchantment. Each time I find new favourite places and activities: the dragons in the park; the tilting rusted sculpture on Barceloneta beach; la Boqueria Markets; taking an extravagant taxi ride up to Bar Veolodromo; picking up one of the Bicing cycles (the free community bicycle program) around the city and finally feeling like a local. The dilapidated elegant architecture, incredible food enjoyed with close friends and sunny climate reminiscent of Sydney have all conspired to finally make me succumb to this city’s charms!

for culture

Recently I saw a fabulous exhibition on Russian Constructivist Architecture at Caixa Fòrum close to the Plaça d’Espanya. The latest exhibition, Actions in the Universe runs until May 20 and is an intriguing collaborative initiative by young Catalan artists David Bestué and Marc Vives, who aim to “activate public space and establish direct relations with people—with an uninhibited attitude towards cultural conventions.” Across the road are the Magic Fountain and Mies van der Rohe Pavilion built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition and from here you can easily stroll down the hill to visit the famous Mountjuic gardens and castle.

La Caixa Forum with poster for Russian Constructivist Architecture show

La Caixa Forum with poster for Russian Constructivist Architecture show

La Caixa Forum with poster for Russian Constructivist Architecture show

The Catalan Palace of Music is easily the most sumptuous venue I have ever seen and the only modernist concert hall declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Go to marvel at the mosaics, carvings, incredible glass ceiling, and surprisingly diverse musical program. If you find the beautiful Italian restaurant with €10 lunches, just down the road to the left, remind me where it is!

Mosaics on the Palace of Catalan Music

Mosaics on the Palace of Catalan Music

Mosaics on the Palace of Catalan Music

Arts Santa Monica, a converted convent originally built in 1636, is now an excellent state gallery run by the Generalitat de Catalunya, at the end of the Ramblas on the way to Barceloneta, showing contemporary works from light to radio waves. Walk down to the beach and visit the gorgeous Rebecca Horn sculpture L’Estel Ferit (the wounded star or the injured comet), one of my favourite places to watch the waves and contemplate life.

Rebecca Horn Sculpture at Barceloneta

Rebecca Horn Sculpture at Barceloneta

Rebecca Horn Sculpture at Barceloneta

Barcelona Art Angels is located in the Raval district close to la Ramblas and offers a glimpse into the city’s vibrant cultural scene through three interlinked venues run by creative entrepreneur Emilio Álvarez. Angels is a contemporary art gallery while Rooms Service Gallery focuses on designer furniture. Carmalitas restaurant (C/Doctor Dou 1) shows video art during meals and promises “an accurate but diverse seasonal menu” based on freshly picked ingredients from nearby la Boqueria Market. Álvarez also directs The Loop Festival for Video Art specialising in moving image and aims to connect the city with local and international artists, institutions and festivals.

Madame La Marquise offers a new gallery space for visual arts, spoken word and unusual events. In the heart of Eixample, this modernist apartment with fabulous views of the city is a veritable Cabinet of Curiosities. Madame la Marquise invites visitors by appointment.

Otrascosas de Villarrosàs (subtitled “Mainly a design gallery”) opens a window onto the beautiful and strange. From The Lives of Others exhibition and book to From Flat to Full—Balloon, Bowls and More, to their Manifesto Project—Work Hard and Be Nice to People, there is always something to inspire. Stroll through the gallery on your way from the Ramblas to the Born district and punctuate a trip with a visit to the Picasso Museum.

Find things you never knew existed and can’t live without at the Museum of Ideas and Inventions in the old city (Ciutat Vella). MIBA is a glimpse into the incredible spectrum of creativity from around the world, curated via themes like Limitless Society, Reflectionarium and the Corner of the Absurd.

Bar Velódromo, serving champagne and oysters

Bar Velódromo, serving champagne and oysters

Bar Velódromo, serving champagne and oysters

for refreshment

I was taken one night to Bar Velódromo and completely fell in love with the art deco glamour. Apparently it’s an excellent breakfast venue, although I can’t go past the baked eggs at Federal created by my wonderful ex-pat Australian hosts. It only too easy to linger for hours in their laidback and extremely stylish cafe near Mercat Sant Antoni. Wander up the hill to Federal owner, Tommy’s favourite Chinese restaurant, Jardin Rosa, where the chef will concoct a delicious creation from your choice of fresh produce. If you’re on the Gaudi Trail, take a break off Passeig de Gracia and revel in the delicacies at Tapas 24, guaranteed to revive you for the next round of culture and architecture! Finish the night on a racing-green leather sofa at the ultra sophisticated Dry Martini Bar where you’ll be served your pink martini by a waiter in a white tuxedo.

other recommendations

In the Born district near the Church of Santa Maria del Mar, Carrer Agullers is home to Vila Viniteca gourmet wine and cheese deli, and Forn de Pastisseria Vila Mala (#14) which produces the most extraordinary vanilla slice (Mil Hoyas) with caramel flaky pastry and richly decadent custard. I always like to visit the dragons in the fountain at the other end of the Passeig del Born, walk along Passeig del Picasso and then through the park. Further along the main street from the dragons, Encants Fleamarket is one of the best in the world, open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 7am to mid afternoon. If you’ve seen and enjoyed the lovely retro postcards of Barcelona around town, visit the new shop Urbana to pick up some of these fabulous nostalgic images, direct from their source to send home.

And anytime you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Barcelona, have a pink martini for me!


Caixa Fòrum http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/nuestroscentros/english/caixaforumbarcelona/caixaforumbarcelona_en.html

Actions in the Universe http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/nuestroscentros/english/caixaforumbarcelona/bestuevives_en.html

Catalan Palace of Music http://www.palaumusica.org/

Arts Santa Monica

Angels Barcelona http://www.angelsbarcelona.com

Room Service http://www.roomservicebcn.com/

Loop Festival http://www.loop-barcelona.com/es/index2.php

Madame La Marquise http://madamelamarquise.es/

Otrascosas de Villarrosàs http://www.otrascosasdevillarrosas.com/

Picasso Museum http://www.museupicasso.bcn.es/en/

Museum of Ideas and Inventions http://www.mibamuseum.com/en/botiga

Federal http://www.federalcafe.es/

Tapas 24 http://www.tapas24.net/

Dry Martini Bar http://www.drymartinibcn.com/

Urbana http://www.urbarna.com


Jodi Rose is an artist and writer who has traveled the world since 2002 creating Singing Bridges, a conceptual sound work using the cables of bridges as musical instruments on a global scale. Jodi is working with engineers, architects, software developers and musicians to link the sounds of bridges around the world in the ultimate live networked Global Bridge Symphony, and writing a memoir of this quixotic philosophical journey from her award winning Travel Diary. http://www.singingbridges.net

For more of Jodi Rose’s work in RealTime see:

bridge odyssey
gail priest talks with sound artist jodi rose

earbash review: jodi rose & guest artists
singing bridges: vibrations/variations

memories of buildings and other ghosts
stephen jones remembers what survives

6 March 2012