So there I was, back in Barcelona! Told you I would come back here. . . This time, the 4th actually, I was planning to stay longer, no vacation now, the reason was studies, Master’s studies. During this bit more than a year of stay at the Catalan capital, I gradually felt some sort of identification with the city and its people. Well, even though I could never get used to the sound of Catalan language or try to speak it (don’t tell my classmates, OK?). You see I’ve always being fond of the Castilian Spanish, the core of the Spanish languages and I prefer to see Spain as a whole, a country that consists of a great variety of cultures united.
14 months of living in a city gives you undoubtedly plenty of time. I seized the opportunity to go sightseeing to almost every piece of art created by the hands of genius renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, explore the bars in Raval, Barri Gòtic and Gràcia, celebrate goals at the temple of football Camp Nou, walk along the Barceloneta beach at night, climb the Tibidabo Mountain by the Funicular de Tibidabo, watch the correfoc at the central streets during La Mercè Festival and smell the freshly picked roses while buying books along the Rambla on Sant Jordi’s day, Catalonia’s patron saint.
4 flatmates, 3 continents, 3 mother tongues, 1 flat. From left to right: me, Yoko, Héctor and Natsumi.
I was lucky enough as to have flatmates (in Barcelona the rents are sky-high, so everybody shares) from Ecuador (1 guy, Héctor) and Japan (2 girls, Yoko and Natsumi), which means that we managed to accommodate 3 continents under the same roof! Actually, my Ecuadorian friend Héctor was half Chinese, so Asia was by far the prevalent continent in the nationality blend. What, did you just ask about communication problems? Well, one thing’s for sure, we were tactful enough to schedule everyday use of common areas of the house in order to avoid conflicts, which in fact worked. Apart from that, very few common nights out as no one could stand alcohol, but they did walk me to La Mercè Festival as well as to a spectacular international air show at the Barceloneta beach, where apart from the plane formations the highlight was when the sky got filled with parachutists, some of whom had the Catalan flag, the Senyera, tied to their parachutes.
Barcelona had unimaginably more colors in store for me, though. Half my classmates originated from countries that spread throughout Latin America (mostly Mexico, but also Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Chile) few from Europe and there was even one Chinese girl who had spent the previous year in Valencia studying Spanish. Thanks to my Mexican mates I had the chance to become familiar with the pre-Columbian Mexican custom of Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, celebrated right after Halloween on 1 and 2 of November. It was quite shocking yet extremely interesting when they took me to this Mexican bar downtown where an exhibition was on and I was standing in front of the altar filled with sugar skulls and marigolds, along with some wonderful samples of paper cutting art decorating the whole scenery. A feeling that death as a phenomenon has the power to inspire not simply art but, surprisingly, can be the source of magic, hit me for the first time.
This city is the only one that made me break my one and only travel rule so many times; you know, I’ve promised myself to always visit just once every place and then head to another (well, to be honest, there is one more that fits in the same category, Castellón de la Plana). But after all these trips, I know each time I leave a greater part of me back in Barcelona… nostalgia my ancestors would call it. Next visit will be in my plans forever.
Second part coming up . . .
One of my first sunsets in Barcelona. Still I get a vague feeling of loneliness each time I see it.
Funny lizard loaf of bread. I wouldn’t eat that, though.
Dragon breathes fire during La Mercè 2011 festivities.
Well, it was that sunny in October, when we headed to the Barceloneta beach to watch the international air show! Oh, and that human pyramid on the left!
Real pumpkin Vs soft toy pumpkin. . . The first one has a sinister smile that I love, at least it had one till we put a candle in it and it, slowly and sadly, melted.
Impressively multicolored altar for Día de Muertos. Anything else but black, which is the norm in my country. Even the skulls were made entirely out of sugar!
Figures of death at the exhibition of Día de Muertos. You can see the sign “Muerte” (Death) written on its shirt.
Delicious Mexican lunch cooked by my classmates, chicken with rice and “mole” sauce all over the plate! I was told “mole” sauce even included chocolate and peanut, making a total of around 20 ingredients! Comes as a package with Mahou beer (Spanish).
Crowd (OK, couples mostly, normal) gathered to enjoy the famous Font màgica of Montjuïc.
While climbing the stairs to the top of Casa Batlló, this internal window surrounded by these uneven blue tiles draw my attention.
Detail from the Dragon’s tail at the Casa Batlló roof terrace. A small sample of Gaudi’s genius.
Statue depicting László Kubala, mythical FC Barcelona player, right outside the Camp Nou museum entrance.
Panoramic view of the city from the top of Tibidabo hill. The temple of Sagrada Familia is right in the center, on the left Torre Agbar and on the right the Twin Towers in Port Olímpic.
Probably the world’s most famous lizard, “El Drac” (the Dragon), another architectural miracle of Antoni Gaudí. You can easily meet him in Park Güell where he hangs out.
In Park Güell, I believe that the gatekeeper would be a higly satisfied man having a place like this to live in.
Asian women playing the piano in Diagonal metro station. No, they were not street/metro artists and the instrument was not theirs. Just a kind of advertisement (of a conservatory perhaps?) and these 2 tourists simply took the chance to practice!
This little girl was so graceful that I had to take a picture of her and the balloon she was chasing. Moreover, Sagrada Familia temple in the background is a building impossible to ignore when holding a camera.
Rambla on its most crowded day of the year, Sant Jordi’s day (23rd of April). People buying books of all kinds, while at the second kiosk on the left you can see the Catalan Independentist flag (blue estelada).
Soft toy roses on the left, colorful real roses on the right. Whatever the lady (or the wallet) commands! Second and equally important ingredient of a traditional Sant Jordi’s day.
Sant Jordi and the dragon have finally got tired of fighting each other and reconciled. Although they still both have their eyes covered in bruises, that’s past! From now on, they will be best friends.
Right outside the Biblioteca de Catalunya and these students had probably made this kind of web as a form of project. Liked the whole idea to dress a tree like this.
The banner of this apartment building in Raval says in Catalan “We want a decent neighborhood”. Raval area, one of the most historic in Barcelona, used to be well-known as the city’s red-light district. It is also a very multicultural place crowded with people from Asian, African and Latin American countries.
This is the view that you get from the MNAC entrance (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya). The Font màgica is right in front of you, right after you have the famous Venetian Towers of Plaça d’Espanya and at the far end lies the Torre de Collserola and of course Tibidabo hill right next to it.
So this seagull was trying to become part of history by flying over and sitting on this statue close to Poble Espanyol. I managed to capture him somewhere in-between the two acts.
Einstein chatting with Darwin at the reception desk of CosmoCaixa science museum, an excellent place even for science illiterates like myself.
This magnificent 23 meter-long tree of life has no roots to the ground. Now that’s a miracle!
I suppose this dragon could easily protect your property from any harm, fact that makes him the perfect pet!
Having fun at the lake of Parc de la Ciutadella.
This guitar is made head to toe of chocolate! You can eat it…eeeeh…I mean find it on exhibition at Museu de la Xocolata.
Flower-light guy on a bike, the craziest costume for a street artist I’ve seen in the Rambla. Oh, and trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them!
This kid was the main reason I took the picture. The way he’s holding his hat, breathless, as if he was paying tribute to the glorious Gegants of La Mercè is simply stunning.
Male mandrill just sitting at the Zoo of Barcelona, chewing a piece of wood, thinking “what the hell am I here for, to be an exhibit so that modern people can get excited by my colors and take pictures of me, so that they have a false sense of connection with nature?”. Just take 5 seconds and focus on his eyes.
An Arc de Triomf could not be missing from Barcelona, certainly not. You get this view from the north exit of Parc de la Ciutadella. Rather cloudy day, huh?
Mick Jagger singing/shouting, Keith Richards playing the guitar/smoking, dog at the back simply mesmerized.
Such a fascinating detail on the facade of this Catalan modernism period apartment building! Kinda creepy in a way.
A warm welcome to the Festa Major de Gràcia by this lovely old lady…
…which was the best street party I’ve ever been to! Imagine that all street decorations were made exclusively by recycled materials. The whole neighborhood of Gràcia was converted to an enormous colorful, musical, dancing, singing, sweaty, drunken fairytale…
…to finally stumble on this dress, the ultimate example of the beauty of recycling.
This guy sat enchanted by the guitar’s sweet melodies. The image itself has a restrained powerful tone that amazes me every time I look at it. Maybe the Cathedral of Barcelona, which was very nearby, played its part in this case.
Floor at the Sagrada Família entrance depicting the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.
As if in a cocoon, ready to emerge. Top of one of the 8 towers built to date.
Characteristic example of the octagonal blocks in Eixample district, as viewed from the top of Sagrada Família. Best city planning I’ve ever seen!
Ready to fly, ready to fall, ready to be crucified for the sake of mankind.
Gaudí wanted to allow as much natural light as possible to the temple. Looks like he made it.
Hospital de Sant Pau as seen from Avinguda de Gaudí. This fountain used to be crowded with pigeons, I don’t know why they all flew away as soon as I approached!
Senyeras on every balcony of the neighborhood celebrating the Festa Nacional de Catalunya on 11th of September! Catalans are true patriots, didn’t I tell you?
Peculiar patterns (seashells maybe?) spread all over the Biblioteca wall in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I was impressed by the fact that I found the novel “Elogio de la madrastra” of Mario Vargas Llosa in Greek! Detail: check the reflection on left and right.
Dinosaur feet support the church… Hmmm, actually this is the Church of Colònia Güell, another unfinished work of Gaudí, but even though amazing like so. You can find it in the suburb of Santa Coloma de Cervelló (17 km from Barcelona).
Once inside the Church of Colònia Güell, I noticed this weird kind of seashell… They told me it’s holy water font! How imaginative you truly were, Gaudí.
Despite having a mediocre camera, I managed to take this action picture at Plaça de la Universitat Barcelona, and I’m really proud of it. Highlight: the movement of his left hand fingers and feet.
Campus of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona as seen from the side of Biblioteca de Comunicació i Hemeroteca General. OK, besides this, the word “etc…” in the background makes the perfect bridge with my next post. . .