Happy goddamn holidays. I haven't been blogging much because my folks are in town and so sightseeing and hanging out has been taking up most of my time. It's nice to see them; they haven't been over here in a while. We took a couple of daytrips: to Montserrat, to Tarragona and Santes Creus, and to Ampurias. They're all worth a trip. I don't know why Tarragona is so little-known as a tourist destination, since it's full of both Roman and medieval stuff, including a first-class history and archaeology museum, and isn't too far from decent beaches. If you're not real picky, Tarragona itself has a beach across the train tracks from the amphitheater. Some of the old city is pretty run-down, the train tracks make an ugly gash along the seaside, and there's nothing worth seeing in the new city except for a stroll along the pleasant Rambla Vella and a Modernista building or two. I've also never had a decent meal there. But it's still definitely worth a trip.
There's always an art exhibition in La Pedrera worth seeing; I don't usually miss them. They usually run about three months or so; I particularly remember one on Giacometti and another of Durer engravings. This one was of 16th and 17th century drawings from the French national library; they had a nice set of Durers, again, and some extremely good portraits of the French royal family, mostly by a guy I'd never heard of before named Francois Clouet. Travel tip: They charge a hefty fee for a tour of La Pedrera, and it is a complete tour; if that's what you want, then pay the fee. If you just want to get inside the building, though, tell them you're going to see the art exhibit. You'll be able to skip the long line at the ticket office, look around inside one of the patios, and see the exhibition.