Sunday, 22 May 2016

Photogenic days

There are a lot of things to take pictures of in Barcelona. Today being Saturday, we were up an out fairly early to scope out some art markets, but also out fairly late taking in the Font Majica. This resulted in 757 photos for the day. Now about 150 of those were me goofing around shooting night photos, but still...

How to share all of this? Snippets, I think.

Snippet 1: Dragons and Door Knockers

In this post, I apologized for my habit of taking photos of stairs. We also take pictures of door knockers. I know, weird, but at the same point, there's the macro scale Barcelona and the micro scale, and door knockers qualify as micro.

And Barcelona calls itself the "city of Dragons" and there are dragon sculptures and gargoyles all over if you're looking for them. We saw a few.
A dragon
Another dragon 
A dragon door knocker 
We found several like this; see below 
Ornate, despite the graffiti 
This one is right handed 
It's the shadows 
Doubles as the door handle 
Also ornate 
Anatomically correct and this would hurt 
A door handle, not a knocker, but we liked it anyway
Wow! Is that a dragon on a balcony?

Snippet #2: Street life

In part because  the weather here allows for it, there are lots of things happening on the street (I doubt that would be the case if it got to -30° and snowed often). The tiniest bar will take up acres of the sidewalk with umbrellas and seats (and unlike where I live, I bet they don't need a permit for it).

There are also street performers. In addition to the amazing guys you see below, we saw:

  • A guy playing flugelhorn along with classical music;
  • Several 1, 2 & 3 person bands, mostly guitars and accordions;
  • A Lady walking from street cafe table to street cafe table singing operatic arias;
Cirque du Soleil, move over 
Quite talented 
They put on an impressive show
Some streets and some placas (though not all, by any stretch) turn into temporary markets. Perhaps it makes sense to the locals which ones do and don't; you occasionally walk into a placa and ask "Where's the market"?  Or walk down a narrow street and say "Why here? Aren't there are better spaces?" Saturday there is more art; there aren't a lot of "pop up" fruits and vegetable guys, but artisanal food (honey, cheese, nuts, bread) will show up.
Rambla de Ravel, home to a pathetic 4 tent market (behind me)
The food market in cramped Placa Pi 
The art market in the Placa next door to Placa Pi
A two tent market here behind me 
One of the two tents; a sculptor 
This placa was devoid of people and had a pathetic overgrown garden in it
Snippet #3: History

In a city founded by the Romans, you would think there would be history. There is, but... most of the Roman stuff is gone, save for a bit of ruin here or there and small bits of the walls the Romans built around the city. We're hoping to get down to Tarragona to see better Roman ruins, perhaps this week.

The dark bits on the bottom are Roman walls 
Full sized walls
Most of the history you see in Barcelona is from about 1500 onwards. In 1714, the city was sacked and Catalonia stopped being an independent country. They're still pissed at this, and there remains a strong independence movement. The Ciutadella Park we were in here was the site of a long-gone fortress that was used to control the city after 1714, and whole sections of the city were razed to eliminate resistance and re-form the city to the Spanish rule.

The (free) El Bonn Cultural Centre sits over top of ruins of the 1600's era city. The magnificent iron structure was built in 1876 to house the city's main market, but it never caught on, so de-volved to just a fruit and vegetable market, then a fish market (neither of which caught on), so wasn't used much. In the 1970's while restoring it, they "found" the ruins underneath, so it was repurposed as a shelter for the ruins. And it's awesome.

Just a small part of the massive building from the outside 
The building and its ruins 
I like the stairs 
Roads and houses and businesses were found
There are things all over the historic Barri Gotic that imply "old" but they may not be.
The sign on the left could be old; the face isn't 
Original street signs? Maybe 
Slightly less old original street signs? Maybe 
These didn't seem to point to things, implying old 
If you can get in...
No matter where you go, you are reminded of the bad way Catalans have been treated since the 1600's.
The inscription  (in English, Spanish & Catalan)
An eternal flame on the modernistic monument 
Devastation during the Spanish War of Independence
The Catalans aren't happy with the British and Dutch who in that 1700's period ignored a treaty and let Spain take over Catalonia despite having vowed to protect her. History's a bitch sometimes.

Snippet #4: Architecture

How could a post about wandering around the city NOT include shots of cool streets and buildings?
A "main drag" to get to La Rambla from our house 
A house decorated with umbrellas 
City Hall. There's a wedding going on. 
Reminiscent of Venice's Bridge of Sighs 
The Mercat de Santa Caterina. The roof is "new", the market since 1848
One beautiful streetscape of a house 
How ordinary people live 
Your typical "cafes taking up the sidewalk" placa 
Mosaics are common, as are potted plants 
A common side street 
Also common when the buildings are much older 
Bridges abound 
Art on a building wall; a tribute to Joan Miro 
A really run down old church 
Towers and towering trees
Snippet #5: Night fountains

We went back to the Font Majica that we visited 2 weeks ago; us and about 100,000 other people.
The crowd gathers 
The show starts at 9 
Tibidabo on the hill 
Curtains of water 
And it begins in earnest 
Lots and lots of water 
Somewhat elegant
The National Museum is also lit up, and 10 searchlights on the roof shine. Plus last night, it was a full moon AND you could see Mars.
Mars is that little dot below and right of the moon 
Full moon
Snippet #6: Barcelona After Dark

Lots happens here after the time normal humans go to bed on the rest of the planet (Barcas are late people). Last night was "Night of the Museums" so it was especially late, as museums all over town were open until 1 AM. We saw ~5 year old kids GOING to a museum at 11 PM. On the way back after the show, we found the Institute del Teatro putting on an outdoor play after a band performed. The play was weird; a guy in a black robe carried a folding ladder around the stage a bit, then other people in black robes brought large boxes on stage, then they started laughing for no reason, then they took off their robes and faked drinking champagne.
Earnest sitting on boxes 
Time to celebrate!
I hope it made sense to them.

Then, about a block from home, we found a jazz quartet playing on a closed bit of street for the crowd of a tiny bar, who were mostly standing on the street. The quartet lacked a bass; the guitarist (playing a Telecaster) was doing the bass line.
They were actually pretty good.

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