Saturday, December 2, 2017

Barcelona: A Photo Journal

I returned from Barcelona more than a month ago. Though I had the best intentions of promptly writing a few blog posts to share my experiences, other projects and life activities got the best of me. In order to share my trip without getting too bogged down in the past, I'm presenting the highlights of my visit to the city as a photo journal.

As soon as I arrived in the Gràcia district,
where I would spend my first few days, I went for a walk to stretch my airplane-weary legs.
Just a few blocks from my AirBnB, I saw these two familiar faces.
I guess when you're a big player in the world of technology,
your face and name are recognized all across the planet.

The artist, who was commissioned to paint these murals,
 was putting the final touches on Bill Gates.
Ironically, I had paid a visit to the Microsoft headquarters,
in Redmond, Washington, just the day before.

This mural, which seems very Portland-esque, also made me feel
as though I hadn't traveled far from the Pacific Northwest.

I visited the beautiful Park Güell, a public park designed by Antoni Gaudí,
of La Padrera, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada fame.
I'm always happy to see greenery in big cities.

I heard music emanating from underneath the viaduct at Park Güell.
Closer inspection revealed this gentleman,
whose voice and instrumentation pleased my ears for nearly an hour.

I was keen on capturing commentary of the political situation in Catalonia.
As I neared this wall to snap a photo, I noticed that the statute moved ever so slightly.
There were quite a few of these clever statue-like posers around Barcelona.

The public bicycle-borrowing system in Barcelona is alive'n'well.
Alas, the system is only available to permanent residents.

Barcelona has a plethora of dedicated bicycle lanes, in various configurations, throughout the city.
For the most part, there is a bike lane along every major thoroughfare.
This makes it easy to navigate the city without having to keep your eyes glued to a bike map.

In Seattle, my Brompton is somewhat of a novelty. This was not the case in Barcelona.
Barcelona is teeming with folding bikes --
mostly Bromptons and Btwins, but everything in between, too,
from Birdys to Monsters (folding electric fat bikes).

One of the enjoyable aspects of Barcelona is the range in styles of its architecture and sculptures.
The Cascada Monument, for example, in the Parc de la Ciutadella, is pretty dang baroque.

The Palau de la Música is constructed in an old-school fashion as well.
Factoid: My Uncle Dean, a well-known pianist, played Beethoven's "Emperor" in this very building
with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in 1964.
Not many people can say that. (I'm so proud of my Uncle Dean!)

A half block away from the Palau stands this super-modernistic sculpture,
called "Carmela," by Jaume Plensa. I thought the sculpture looked familiar.
Sure enough, Plensa created the similar looking statue in the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle.

I love these four pillars outside the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

The view of the city from the Museu's terraces is pretty fantastic... is the modern art collection at the Museu.
(The Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque collections nearly put me to sleep.) 

Not surprisingly, I love this 1897 oil painting by Ramon Casas called
"Ramon Casa and Pere Romeu on a Tandem."

I enjoyed this piece as well, also in the modern wing of the museum.
This sofa was designed by Aleix Clapés sometime between 1898-1904.
He was quite the trendsetter, eh? Sixty years ahead of his time!

Just around the corner from Casa Batlló is this building, the Fundacio Antoni Tapies.
Though the building was built in the 1880s, it was topped by Tapies's
sculpture "Núvol i cadita" (Clouds and Chair) in 1990 as a means of heightening the building. 

A similar mix of old and new was displayed by the gartered legs and red stilettos
emerging from the Coliseum Theatre.
 The legs weren't as much of a shocker as the larger-than-life poster
just below of a nude, muscularly-chiseled man. 
A scantily clad women was kneeling at his waist, with her manicured hand strategically-placed.
It's not too often you see a Playgirl-type image posted on the side of a city building!

I had to do a double-pass in front of this storefront window.
With her dark skin and bleach-colored hair, I had mistaken the employee for a mannequin as well!

I spent hours sitting on benches, people-watching.
I felt as though I had seen just about every type of person represented in Barcelona.

As I was out for a walk one day, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, I haven't yet seen a Buddhist monk."
Minutes later, as I'm raising my camera to my eye to photograph the motorcycles that
lining every sidewalk in the city, a monk suddenly appears in my viewfinder. Nice!

Just around the corner from my AirBnB in the Sants-Montjüic district was this Amazon locker.
There's no escaping Amazon!

Shortly after checking into my new AirBnB,
I returned to my room to find the curtain ajar.
My first thought was that an intruder had entered my room!

Indeed, there had been an intruder; this little munchkin snuck into my room through the window!
No complaints, as finding a kitty on my bed is just as enticing as finding a mint on my pillow.

Speaking of kitties, I only spotted one feral cat duing my entire two weeks in the city.
This elephantine cutie, in the Raval neighborhood, made up for the lack of kitty sightings.

Even the backside of Fernando Botero's "Cat," is pretty cute.

As for dogs, I did not see a single feral dog in all of Barcelona.
 This doggie (not a feral) was patiently waiting for his humans to finish their lunch.
I love the heart balloon and the forlorn look on the doggie's face;
I think this poor guy might have been stood-up by his bitch. 

Though there may be few feral four-legged animals in Barcelona,
there sure as heck are a helluva lot of birds.
The pigeons in the Plaça de Catalunya far outnumber the humans.

And loud Monk Parakeets are all over the city.

The Mercado de La Boquería, along La Rambla, is colorful and crowded.
As I roamed the market, however, I didn't exactly feel welcomed.

Perhaps this is because one of the first booths I walked by was this one,
with its unappetizing display of meat products arranged beneath an unappetizing rose-colored light.
The signage certainly didn't make me feel welcome. As I took a photo of the booth,
a woman clawed at me, saying "Señora, no hay fotos."
Yea, ok, so maybe there sorta is a no photos sign peaking out from beneath your
"We are not a tourist attraction" sign. But seriously? Your city thrives on tourism.

I'm always intrigued by graffiti. I let out a good chuckle when my eyes
honed in on the pink stenciled message near the top of this photo.

As I turned 180° to see the graffiti-covered door across the street,
my eyes were instantly drawn to the neon sign.
I thought to myself, "Yikers, I'm in the crude section of town!"
Admittedly, it would be kinda fun on a first date to dine at My Fucking Restaurant --
 only if the date is going well, I suppose.

 I love this Edifici Planeta.
I wish all buildings were clothed in life.

This insect hotel, at the Jardín Botánico in Montjüic, is pretty cool, too.
From afar, it appears as though this is a shelving system for storing twigs and wood.
But an up-close examination reveals thousands of tiny apartment-like hole homes.

This happy hippy tree made me smile.

A poem mural, in Catalan, plays off this theme:
"Planting ideas rains critical thinking, alternatives grow."

I toured Refugio 307, one of 1,487 air raid shelters built in Barcelona during
the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The tour was fabulous!
I learned a whole bunch and urbicide and the courageous resolve of the Barcelonians.

Stay tuned for my next post, which is about cycling through Catalonia.


  1. I need to take you lead on this, I love your photo journal posts! And I am glad you completed the people watching card with the Buddhist monk. Not sure how i missed one let alone 2 Sarah posts till now!

    I wonder why tourist can't borrow the bikes, I would think they would make a lot more money...

    1. Thanks, Tony.

      I've wondered the same think about the bike rental program. Definitely seems as though renting to tourists could provide a lift in income. Then again, tourists who want to ride bikes can rent bikes from local shops, likely pumping even more money into the economy.


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