Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Barcelona Experience?

Am writing this a while after my time in Barcelona, so a lot of it is from memory...

Arrived in Barcelona on the Monday, having taken a very nice fast train in from Valencia. Had an absolute panic attack when buying the train tickets in Valencia - I had said in my very best Spanish "Quisera dos bihlettes para Madrid de Manana, por favor". Then when he pointed at the screen and said "ferchardo, ferchado!", I panicked.

What? You mean the trains are closed tomorrow? After a few minutes of panicking, and trying to work out what was going on, he had someone wander over & tell us that it was actually the ticket booking system that was a bit broken at the moment. Phew.

Las Ramblas was long. We never had a chance to walk the entire length. It was oh so crowded! We walked from Catalunya Plaza to Placa Real. There were lots of street performers alongside, almost one every 10metres or so. There were two guys on stationary bikes all painted up in black and grey with two skeletons 'riding' sidecar. Once you dropped your money in the tin, they would start cycling, and so too would the two skeletons. There was another street performer that had a jumble of cloth and an upside down table as part of his act. It looked as though his two feet were sticking out from the underside of the upsidedown table. I didn't stay around long enough to witness his performance.

After checking in, we were taken via the metro to our shared apartment near Avenue de Parallel. We met some dirty dishes in the sink. Whilst finding our way back to Las Ramblas and the supermarket, we met the seedy red light district.

All the places we ate at in Barcelona were fantastic. Went to Candela Raval on L'Hospital twice, and liked the beef sirloin with a red wine reduced sauce so much, that I got it again the second time. Tried the degustation menu at Regina Raval as well. The food was good, and we
got to watch the makings of Howl's Moving Castle at the same time.

Went out and sampled the night life in Barca. Went to a club on their Erasamus night (international students night). I know that nightlife in Barca *doesn't* really start until after 1am, but this was pretty dead. It was free entry with a flyer, and I got a free drink out of it, so I won't complain too much. Some people in Barca dance in a way that suggests that they are on show, and hey, look at me.

Did lots and lots of Gaudi related visits.

Saw the outside of Casa Batlo, on the Block (Manzana) of Discord. The roof apparently represents the back of the slain dragon, and the chimney pot represents the victorious St George. I couldn't quite stomach the hour long wait or the 16.50 euro entry fee, so I bought my
own cardboard cut out copy, and have grand plans (amongst all my other projects), to build it when I get back.

Visited Parc Guell - which was amazing. Gaudi was commissioned to design this residential estate for the wealthy, but the project got pulled a few years down he track. What he did manage to build in that time was pretty specatular. The gatehouses, at the entrance to the Park look like fairy gingerbread cottages, the kind that got Hansel and Gretel into so much trouble. Unfortunately, didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked.

Visited Temple of La Sagrada Familia. Can't believe that this place is still under construction, but it is amazing. It would have to be some pretty open minded sort of priesty person who gets to run this place. We queued up for 40mins to get access to one of the towers on the passion facade, the newer side. The nativity facade is the one that Gaudi built, and is very ornate. Almost too much for me. I like the Passion Facade a lot better, which was designed by Josep Subirachs.

Walked past Palau Guell, but i was under renovation, so all I saw were some chimney pots that looked a bit like christmas trees. Went and had a look at the exterior of La Pedera (The Quarry), but didn't want to pay to enter. That one was 8euro, and also had an hour-long queue that went around the corner. Snuck a look in through the shop, there building wasn't solid as such, it had two lobbies with 'airwells' leading to the roof. Inside each airway was a winding staircase.

Went to my first proper 'football' game. It was FC Barcelona versus Huvela Recreativo. We were in side bits just off the goal (here I show my igorance), in the cheapest set of seats that we could get. There were soooo many people, and of course we were sitting in the local stand.

It was lots of fun. I can't believe how many people were there, they all stood up to sing the team song before the match. I haven't been to a Sydney FC match, so I don't know how it compares, but I don't think the SFS or the SCG have the capacity for 98 thousand.

No comments: