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|Barcelona, population about one million,
is on the Mediterranean in the extreme northeastern corner of Spain. The
local language is Catalan, which resembles both French and Spanish.
This aerial view of Barcelona is from the cable car ride over the harbor.
The green strip is the trees along La Rambla.
||The Placa de Catalunya is the hub of Barcelona.
Extending south from the Placa is the Ramblas, a tree-lined, mile-long boulevard. It's filled all day and much of the night, with back-packers, family tourists and local folks enjoying the shops, restaurants, street musicians and other buskers. If you don't want to walk, you can rent a chair for a few Pesetas, sit and watch all day.
||Our rooms were on the 3rd floor (4th in the US ) of the Hotel Continental at the north end of the Ramblas, near the Placa de Catalunya. Nice rooms, good breakfasts, great view of the action.|
||Some people are headed for the Placa de Catalunya, others are just taking in the passing scene.|
|One of the many kiosks along the Ramblas. There are shops that sell flowers, others have birds and small pets. When the bird stalls are closed at night, you can hear the roosters crowing!|
|After dark along the Ramblas: people dine from 8:30 until nearly midnight.|
|From our balcony we could watch these Roman soldiers putting on their makeup and armor each morning. If you give them a coin they will point their spears at each other and strike a dramatic pose. It's not exactly an easy way to make a living!|
|Ethan giving a few pesetas to a performer, who will smile and speak in response.|
|Dick being admired by a street performer.|
|Old men with long memories: the Communist Party|
|...and a street in the Ciutat Vella: Placa George Orwell. He had a clearer view of the Party.|
|Vila Olimpica. We spent three afternoons
at the beach near here.
These are (or were) the tallest buildings in Spain; they are part of the development for the 1992 Olympic Games. The one at left is an office building and the one with the exposed frame is a hotel.
|Jeff and Ethan catching a wave at Platja Maritim in Barceloneta. The water was cool--|
|but the beach has lovely sand and plenty of people to enjoy it with you.|
|The rest of the party ordered tapas and drinks, which entitled us to sit in the shade at one of several beachfront tapas bars as long as we wanted. That's Karen on the left.|
|La Pedrera (Casa Mila), Gaudi's apartment building on Passeig de Gracia. It was finished in 1910; it's said that there isn't a straight line in the whole place. Building this must have been a craftsman's nightmare, as there are no standard, factory-made pieces used.|
|Inside La Pedrera, one of the apartments has been opened to viewers. It's furnished in 1911 style and looks extremely comfortable despite being wound around a courtyard! Plenty of light and space and a view from every room. Karen and Barb are just leaving the diningroom; notice the parquet floor.|
|This is the pantry, very bright and hygienic, with a soapstone sink and granite countertop.|
|The rooftop is populated with one-of-a-kind chimneys and airducts, called "witch-scarers" by some. They, or the giddy views, certainly scared Barb away quickly, but Karen and Ethan had a great time up there. You could see all the way to the beach.|
|La Seu, Barcelona's cathedral, was begun in 1298--but the main facade wasn't finished until the central spire was built in 1913. The Placa de la Seu and the surrounding narrow streets attract musicians who play the guitar, the zither and other instruments that benefit from the echoes.|
|The Gothic interior of the cathedral.|
|Barb and Karen in one of the streets near La Seu. There are some remains of Roman walls in this area.|
|Rambla de Mar and Maremagnum, a new shopping and entertainment center in Port Vell. The walkway at left has a swing bridge for traffic in and out of the marina. The rooftop swimming pool is invisible from the ground: this is a view from the cable car.|
|The Aquarium at Maremagnum is laid out to show the marine habitats of the Mediterranean at different depths. It also has the Explora, with interactive exhibits that delighted Ethan.|
|A moving walkway carries you through part of the aquarium so that you can look up at the rays and other fishes as they swim close by. A neat way of spreading out the visitors, as well as a new perspective on a fishtank.|
|Ethan with Karen, exploring the woods at the top of Parc Guell. Gaudi was commissioned by a wealthy patron to design a private housing estate of 60 homes, but only 2 were built. Instead the area was opened as a public park in 1922. We started up here and walked downhill to see the amazing tiled decorations.|
|On the way down, Ethan (wearing the uniform of an erstwhile Barcelona footballer) kicked a ball around with a couple of new friends.|
|The tiled dragon fountain which is featured on many souvenirs of Parc Guell. (Ethan's proud of his shirt even though Figo was bought by a rival team the day after he got it!)|
|Gaudi had tiles made and painted...and then had them painstakingly broken up and set as mosaics to form new patterns! The space under this terrace, with the columns, was originally intended as a marketplace.|
|The very comfortable tiled bench that forms one side of the terrace. Like La Pedrera, Parc Guell displays sinuous curves where one might expect straight lines. This bench is a sort of extended "conversation seat"--you can sit on either side.|
|Under the terrace, the columns make a nice cool, shady artificial cave. The ceiling here is glazed tile.|
|Placa Reial, which is lined with restaurants. The lamps and the fountain with the Three Graces are early work by Gaudi. In an attempt to discourage dangerous loiterers, the placa has only single chairs, no benches, and there's a very visible police presence.|
|We ate in three different outdoor cafes in the Placa Reial--eating outdoors is more casual and easier for Ethan to take. Most restaurants don't open until 8:30, and we usually spent almost 2 hours at the table! We indulged heavily in seafood, accompanied by vino and Sangria. Here are Barb, Dick and Jeff digging into the main course.|
|One night Jeff ordered Arroz Negre: a paella with squid cooked in its own ink. Very black and very deeply flavored. Ethan's favorites were fried calamari and spaghetti bolognaise.|
|At our last dinner, we shared an elegant paella, each serving topped with a very large shrimp, at a restaurant in Barceloneta. This is in the still slightly raffish, older part of Barceloneta, not the new Olympic area.|
|La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's famous unfinished cathedral (why make a fuss about that, when La Seu took 700 years?) It may someday be completed, although the original plans and drawings were destroyed by Anarchists in 1936. The encrusted surface makes it look almost like the drip-castles we used to make with wet sand. This is the Nativity Facade, finished in 1904.|
|Dick and Barb took the lift that goes up inside one of the towers; the others walked up the steps, even young Ethan--the Rough Guide says there are 400 steps! The stairway is very narrow, but Barb managed to force her way back to the lift and avoid walking down in the other tower. From here, the continuing construction doesn't seem to be making much of an impact.|
|Looking out from one of the towers. There's a narrow bridge between the towers, a favorite picture-taking spot for the many tourists.|
|Part of the spiral stairway going down. The ceiling is very low, this is no place for claustrophobics!|
This is the diving pool for the 1992 Olympics. Imagine preparing yourself for a splendid dive with that panoramic view of Barcelona to distract you! We rode up here on the funicular...
|...and rode down on the cable car. The tower at the end is in Barceloneta; the one in the center of the trip is near Maremagnum and has a lift, so we descended there.|
|Another cable car trip, this time to the mountain and monastery of Montserrat. An hour's train ride brings you to the foot of this wonderful ascent, with superb views of the mountains and the valley of the Llobregat River. A storm earlier this year has closed the funiculars and hiking paths to higher lookouts, but this was good enough.|
|The interior courtyard of the Basilica, Montserrat. We visited on a day when very few others were there, so we found it peaceful.|
|A view of the sanctuary from the niche where the Black Virgin (La Moreneta) of Montserrat awaits pilgrims.|
|A fruit display in La Boqueria (Mercat Sant Josep, built in the 19th century).|
|La Boqueria is devoted to food, and every display seems to be a work of art. Even the butcher stalls looked lovely.|
|Barb considering the purchase of nectarines.|