Thursday, October 6, 2016

Postcards and fountains

My preferred souvenir to buy when traveling, since 2009, has been, and still is, postcards. It used to be tall shot glasses but postcards are significantly cheaper, more varied, and easier to find.

Here are some guidelines I have for myself when buying a postcard (and really, one per destination is enough for keepsies).

1. The postcard needs to display something I've actually seen. So no natural feature I didn't actually hike to, no art piece I didn't actually look at in the museum. Many art museums, in fact, sell art postcards of art that sit in entirely different museums.

2. Standard size is best. Standard material is best as well (no wooden postcards).

3. Artsy postcards are better. Creative photography or maybe a drawing. Realistic landscape photos are fine, but I can take photos myself.

4. No words on the front. Too kitschy. No name of the location, no "wish you were here".

5. Preferably, words on the back. A nice description is excellent.

These are not rules set in stone, of course; they're more like my preferences.

Now let me tell you about the first postcard in my current collection.

I was studying abroad in France and took a weekend trip to Barcelona. I decided to go to Barcelona for one major reason: the Calder mercury fountain located in Fundació Joan Miró, an art museum dedicated to Miró's works. I had seen a picture of the mercury fountain--this is an actual fountain with mercury running through it instead of water--a couple years prior in high school and it had left a deep impression on me. It was so cool! Before my trip I even checked their website, just in case, to make sure the fountain was really there.

So anyway, I started by enjoying various Barcelona sights, all whilst anticipating the one event I came here for. I enjoyed the Miró works slowly, too, appreciating them on the surface while my excitement bubbled underneath. And then.... I reached it. Near the end. The glass wall. And the fountain.... was out of order! Under repair! I looked at the dry fountain and actually cried tears. Not too many, though, because I was with my friend and it was kind of embarrassing.

Afterwards, we went to the gift shop and the only purchasable evidence that existed of the fountain was one little postcard. I bought it. This is what it would've looked like if it were running. This is what the picture I would've taken might have looked like.

I still haven't been back yet. I don't know the fountain is still there.

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