Saturday, June 30, 2012

Barcelona - June -2012

Barcelona - June 2012

Fantastic architecture abounds in Barcelona and that is even discounting Gaudi from the conversation.  I believe I have found my favorite type of graphic art.  Architecture! And, at least from a distance, I even know the building that is the pinnacle of architecture...for me, anyway.  It's a water company building and no one ever even mentions it when they talk about Barcelona.  Zack and I were walking from the Columbus Monument (right)  to our hotel, which was several miles away and all uphill when we saw it from a distance.
We first saw the water company as we crossed a major road and it darn near got us run over by 34 taxis.  We couldn't help it.  We  were mesmerized.  We thought an alien space ship had landed.  We walked toward it as if drawn by a Martian magnetic beam.

We also went through the Spanish equivalent of the Arc d' Triumphe.  Not sure what victory it's celebrating, but it was a cool arch.  Upon seeing it, I got the feeling that someday I'd be walking through the arch in Paris.  The last time I was there I was on the back of a motorcycle doing 90 mph at about 2:00 in the morning.  No, it wasn't by choice... but it was memorable!  What's that saying, "Bad experiences make the best memories!"

Another building that caught our eye was the Barcelona bull ring.  After staring at it, it dawned on us what was different about the bullring.  There was no, nada, zero, graffiti on it. Made me think that the good ol' boys had let it be known that anyone who tags their wall would be used for horn sharpening.

Here's a bit of architecture that defies logic, unless the owner/builder inherited a very narrow strip of land and said, "Well, what can we do with this fifteen' wide by 200' strip of land?"  The answer, build a very slit of a building about 6 stories high.  Pretty cool the way it tapers to a space that can only be used as a stairwell... a narrow stairwell at that.

Barcelona street performers:
This one is easy - Jim Carrey.  Cute, but not worth very many Euros.  You gotta stand on one foot or something.

Not really sure who he is suppose to be.  Maybe a unicyclist that has a green paint fettish?  Sorry.  No Euros for green people wearing sunglasses on a unicycle.

Okay, you can have a Euro if for no other reason than you can play an accordion.  You would have had two, but the hat cost you.
Speaking of hats, what climbed on top of that lady's head that is red?

I have seen more accordion players in the last 45 days than I have seen in my entire life and I watched the Godfather 18 times!

Where are all the jugglers juggling cannon balls dipped in gasoline and set afire?
Where are the flaming sword eaters?

Wow!  Things sure have changed in thirty years.  It was about 30 years ago that I was in Europe and back then, artists were drawing beautiful pictures on the side walk.  In fact, the Mona Lisa was much better in sidewalk chalk than Leonardo's diminutive 10"x12" original.  I know.  I know. It was a masterpiece.  So was the sidewalk chalk drawing...until it rained!
Last street performer -

All of these street performers were seen enroute to the museum for the Holy Grail - alias the Chocolate Museum.  It was to be our first of three museums we visited that day.

 Zack's favorite museum was the Chocolate Museum. If a dog could be used to represent how the chocolate samples made us feel it would be this guy!

The Picasso museum which had a few good pictures and a lot more of his abstract paintings.  Seems that he and Dali both started off playing the game, drawing straight lines, coloring in between the lines, etc, and then at some point said, " I'm bored!" and went off.  Look at the similarity in this picture of Picasso and this little boy who claims to be his offspring??

I love this picture.  Not quite sure who the man is with Picasso, but just for fun, let's assume that he paid Picasso to paint a picture for him, I can imagine what he's thinking behind that little smile, which is really a wince of pain in the knowledge that he was duped.
.  After querying many museum goers, here was the winning answer:
"Holy Sh*%&!!!!  I paid you a gazillion dollars and you draw a picture like this???  What did you do... subcontract out to a 4th grader?!  Couldn't you have at least bought a box of crayons for the tyke?"

This is me after three museums.  The Chocolate Museum was okay, but the chocolate bar they gave us with the price of admission was great.  The Picasso Museum was okay as well, it's just so difficult to go gaga over... over... over, "What the Heck is THAT!" paintings.  (I can see art aficionados filing lawsuits right now:).  The third museum we went to was the Antoni Gaudi Museum and it was interesting to see his clay models.  Very cool!
BUT... enough friggin' museums for one day! (month)
We were museumed-out.  So what does a good moral upstanding father do for his son... he brings him to a WINE festival.  For $12 we got ten coupons and were able to buy a total of 5 very full glasses of wine.  I needed something to eat so we walked down the street to the morning market and buy cheeses from all over Spain.  Delicioso!   It was a great time.  Then, when we started to walk back to the hotel, we saw the aliens had landed.  I thought, "Either we are in big trouble... or the wine was better than I thought."

See the flag.  It's a pretty flag.  It is the Flag of Catalunya!  The people of the state of Catalunya, which is in NW Spain want to secede and be their own country.
Bad news, Catalunya.  It takes more than a language, more than a flag, more than desire, to make a country.  You will have to learn that you are more alike than you are different from people, especially those in Spain.
At the wine festival there were booths set up near by trying to rekindle, stoke, build support for the Catalunyan culture.  They are really big on independence from Spain...and they'll stay like that... until another war comes up... or an economic crisis occurs.  I had a great conversation with a Spaniard from San Sebastian in the Basque Country in northern Spain.  I have learned that no matter where you are, people have to feel special.  Most have to feel that they are "different".  Think:
Richmond Va.  - Daughters of the Confederacy
Boston - Daughters of the Revolution.
Plymouth -  If you can't trace your family back to the Mayflower, well, you aren't colonial now are you?  The things we do to set ourselves apart.  Maybe if the Martians attacked, we'd see how much we're really alike.  Very quickly, people would see that there isn't much difference in parenting around the world- we all want our kids to grow up healthy and be safe and have jobs etc.  But no, let's split from Spain... and then of course we have the fact that the Basque in Spanish Basque are sooooo different from the French Basque, so let's divide again.  And then you don't expect the Coastal Basque to agree with the Inland Basque sooooooo let's divide again.  Pretty soon, Mamma Basque and Daddy Basque and Sonny Basque are all having their own kingdoms.
Basque in this - Get along.  There is strength in numbers!  Santoos!!!

Okay, now I'm on a kick.  Speaking of getting along, tell me that you haven't noticed the number of people who are at dinner together and don't talk to one another.  Hmmm. Where are you, Martians???  Get here soon!

Here's something that would be fun to do.  Zip around a city in one of these.  We saw these too late to do them, (after the wine festival) but how fun.  Now I understand why the drivers around here drive like maniacs.  They've been trained in Formula One cars!

This is the balcony view from our "hotel"/youth hostel in Barcelona.  I really liked it, except I had a top bunk, there was no place to put our backpack, the shower was feeble, the toilet was unassembled, the sink wasn't big enough to drown a gnat, our roomies smoked, and it was four floors up.  But somehow, I had one of my best nights ever.  I sat up on the balcony until 2AM, enjoying a cool zephyr while emailing friends and listening to such good music (thank you I Tunes).
      One good thing about staying up late was that I was so tired when I hit the pillow, that I don't think about the top bunk, the shower, the toilet, the...  I do remember that my last thought was thanking God that I was so lucky to have such a beautiful night.  I wish everyone that kind of moment.  I was/am rich!