Barcelona 2013

  • May 7, 2013 – Barcelona, Spain

    We’ve been here since Monday afternoon and are beginning to learn our way around. Fortunately there are plenty of tall cathedrals and monuments to provide landmarks for navigation. We rode the underground metro today and it was as easy as could be. You can buy 10 rides for less than 10E and get from one side of town to another in a jiff. Recommended.

    Our first stop today was Sagrada Familia. A spectacular Gaudi cathedral that has been under construction since 1830 or so. I suppose any 130 year project has ups and downs but now the construction is proceeding at full speed. As I understand it, local donations are powering the renewed effort. (Pretty amazing when you consider the adult unemployment rate here is 27%+) There are at least 8 cranes over the building, most of the ground level is completely obscured by tall construction buildings and fences, and all of the upper towers are covered in construction nets. There are a million postcard photos that show one or two cranes but none that show them all. Photoshop? We walked all around it and I took some photos and I’ll post a few later. The line to get inside was over 3 hours so we passed.

    The weather here has been perfect so that has been contributing to big crowds everywhere. No complaints, really.

    Our first metro ride was to the construction site. The second was across town to the FC Barcelona Museum and Camp Nou, the stadium. It seats 100K and is the largest in Europe. It is a club in the sense we think of it. All of the 120K+ members get to vote on who the officers and managers are. Imagine the Seahawks operating like that. I really enjoy the sport and it was a treat for me to read all the history and see all the pictures. Debb was very patient. The club experienced tough times during the Spanish civil war and it reminded me of the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky and their struggles during prohibition. I thought I might buy an ‘officially licensed shirt’, but at 90E each I passed. Apart from my moto gear, I don’t think I have $150 in everything I own!

    Our third metro ride brought us back downtown. We indulged in a Starbucks and wandered back to our hostel in the Gothic Quarter. Lots of hidden little plazas with some interesting art.

    Our room here is up on the third floor all by itself in the back of the building. Nice room with a view of the rabbit mural but the wifi reception is spotty, so I bring my laptop down to the common area where the reception is good and I have a table to work on.

    This afternoon, I had just finished transferring all today’s photos when I heard two German ladies. They checked in and were asking if they could use the phone in the morning because they had lost something. I didn’t know what exactly but assumed credit cards or wallet since they sounded quite upset. I’ve had my share of credit card adventures this trip, so I stepped around the corner and introduced myself and offered to let them use my laptop and Skype to make some calls. They wanted to make a call in the morning and we made arrangements for just after breakfast. Then we got to talking and they described what the problem was. The older of the two ladies had been the victim of a pickpocket and lost her wallet. Her credit card and pension card were gone. They wanted to call their friend from home to get the number of the bank. We decided to call right then. Their friend couldn’t find the number – turns out she is nearly blind. Then I suggested just looking up the bank on the web. “We can do that?” We did, found the 24 hour number, called, and they got everything sorted. They were so relieved! And I’m their hero.

    What an amazing modern world we live in!

    Dinner tonight was supposed to be at a place called La Fonda, not far from La Rambla. We got there and the line was out the door and down the street. We picked a place near our hostel and had a decent meal. The place seemed to be in turmoil. The lady bartender was in tears a couple of times and the waiters were running around like mad men. The couple next to us were from Cannes and we had a nice chat about the best times to visit the south of France. June and September, according to them. This year has been an awful winter according to them and many others we have chatted with. Sure is nice now.

    Last night was dinner outside on La Rambla. Nice, but a bit pricey for what it was. Tapas is everywhere and promoted so much that sometimes it is really perfunctory and seems to have been made hours, if not days before. On the other hand, we stopped for a break a couple blocks away from the construction site and had two coffees and a pastry and it was excellent and very inexpensive.

    It is hard for me to convey to you just how many two-wheel vehicles there are here. If you have been to a Backfire Moto gathering in Ballard or a VME meeting when they were on Roosevelt, imagine that density of bikes and scooters on every street in town. There must be a hundred thousand scooters and bikes here. We saw lots in Italy but it seems like there are more here. In spite of their zooming around at breakneck speed, I’ve seen no accidents, or even any close calls. They are better than we are.

    Both of the desk clerks here have told us that housing prices are way, way down here. FYI.

    More tomorrow.

     

  • May 8, 2013 – Rabbits Gone Wild

    This mural near our room is fun and so well done! Can you spot the two utility cabinets that are not part of the painting?

    This is a wall mural near where we are staying in the Gothic Quarter. Can you spot the two utility cabinets that are not part of the painting?

    This is a wall mural near where we are staying in the Gothic Quarter.

     

  • May 9, 2013 – Sagrada Familia

    This is an astounding project that has been in progress for well over 130 years. The pace of construction has picked up recently, but there is still a massive amount of work to do. I wish I could have seen the inside but the lines to get in were hours long.

    This is the first view of the cathedral as you climb out of the metro station.

    This is the first view of the cathedral as you come up out of the metro station.

    You can see just a fraction of the crowd behind Debb

    You can see just a fraction of the crowd behind Debb

    Cranes, scaffolding, platforms, netting and a church

    Cranes, scaffolding, work platforms, netting and a church

    An example of finished and unfinished structures

    An example of finished and unfinished structures

    West side of cathedral

    This will be very striking when it is finished

    This will be very striking when it is finished

    One of your very first-rate apostles. Note the heads of the visitors for scale

    One of your very first-rate apostles. Note the heads of the visitors for scale

    Detail of one of the finished structures

    Detail of one of the finished structures

    This is the south side and there is a lot of work to finish here

    This is the south side and there is a lot of work to finish here

     

  • May 9, 2013 – Futbol Club Barcelona

    Debb and I visited the FC Barcelona Museum and their stadium which is called Camp Nou. We toured the museum and Debb was very patient while I read all the history. A beautiful facility worthy of a 100+ year old and very successful club. I am a fan. The only downside – a genuine team shirt will run you 90 Euros. Ouch!

    The entrance to the Club Museum and gallery. Names and faces of legends!

    The entrance to the Club Museum and gallery. Names and faces of legends!

    Shoes and balls from a bygone era.

    Shoes and balls from a bygone era.

    More than a Club

    More than a Club

     

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