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SPAIN | Monday, 28 April 2008 | Views [577] | Comments [2]

Barcelona is good.  I like it.  It´s an old town with a new feel.  And unlike Madrid it feels like it´s on the up and up.  They are havig a bit of a boom right now with the port being the biggest in the Mediterranean (it overtook Marseilles a few years back).  The Olympics in 1992 gave it the same kick forward that the Commonwealth Games and Expo did for Brisbane in the 80s.  Plus it´s way less Spanish (-:

We started with a city tour.  The guide George (pronounced Jorgie) was quietly enthusiastic about his city and it was infectious.  The city is based on an old Roman city.  It continued to keep on after the barbarian invasions, and Catalonia was only occupied by the Moops for 80 years or so, liberated by Charlemagne.  It´s only part of Spain by accident of history (I think it was part of a peace treaty at the end of the War of Spanish Succession in the 1600s).  Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish, it´s a language related to it (like Portuguese) and it has a few similarities to French.  Anyway, for a long time, it was forbidden to build anything within one cannon shot of the walls of the old city, which means that in the 1800s they still had lots of open areas to build some decent roads (tree lined avenues) so that it´s not as cramped as some medieval cities.

We looked at the Segrada Familia (Cathedral of the Holy Family) designed by Gaudi but still being built and developed after a century.  Gorge said this about when the finishing date is, "We don´t know, we don´t care."  The attitude is that it is a community effort and the family motif is not accidental.  Their parents started it, they continue it and their children might finish it.  Each generation adds its own touches and style.  The east facade features the nativity and was completed by Gaudi when he was alive.  It´s very ornate and only pictures will really capture it.  The west face features the crucifixion and was completed in 1982.  It is a very different style (not that you could see both sides at once).  But then, it´s a different time and a different subject.  It´s much more angular and plain.  It´s great to see a monument like this on the way up, rather than once it´s crumbled for a few centuries (an embryo rather than a corpse).  And it gives an insight to the other great cathedrals of Europe that took up to 800 years to finish.  And frankly it was a little bit inspiring in a religious way, which is the point I guess.

Next day Emma and I found a Swing Dance event in a square.  The locals were very friendly and we had a great dance.  We were probably a bit hard on the Stockholm crowd, but the Barcelona people were very welcoming and I had some great dances.

We then went to Parc Guell, also designed by Gaudi.  Time´s running out, so you might have to wait for the photos.  It´s a wonderful space though and a testament to Gaudi´s humanism that went along with his deep religious convictions.  I´m very impressed by this man´s life and works.

Anyway, better get back to the laundromat and relieve Emma from her vigil.

UPDATE:  OK, well we went to a Flamenco performance on the last nigght and it was fantastic.  The guitar kept doing these great ascending chord changes that heightened the tension and the clapping in syncopated rhythm with the dancing was amazing.  The people in the background would spot any space in the rhythm pattern and start clapping a syncopated time to fill it.  They gave a great impression of just hanging out at the local taverna and someone deciding to tell a story with singing and dancing (about love lost and gained presumably).  The background people would clap along and say things presumably along the lines of "Then wwhat happened?" or "Ooh, I know" or "Well-a well-a well-a well-a ugh tell me more tell me more...".  I stood in the back and swayed along since by keeping time myself was the only way I could try to penetrate their rhythms.  It really gave a great impression of the street, improv nature of flamenco.  The only downside was the fact that it was all done under the strobe of a bunch of American tourists' camera flashes.  They seemed to think that taking a still photo with a flash was the best way to capture an artform centred around movement, music and rhythm.  I hope their washed out photos make up for missing the point and partly ruining it for everyone else.  The saving grace was that they tended not to take photos of the male dancers (probably because they didn't conform to their pre-conceived expectations and so were ignored).  TRAVEL TIP:  Know how to turn off the flash on your camera when it is not appropriate or a large bald man called Steve from Mackay might fail to resist the urge to punch you in the back of the head.  Respecto.



I'm so jealous of you right now!
Curse you for seeing gaudis architechture. I haven't got around to it yet.. I love his work!
And well, alhambra, i want to see that too. My life has been somewhat lacking on the spain-visiting side (never been there).
Wave to the rest of europe from me and tell it i'll get there and see the sights next year maybe.

Going downwards into europe is like visiting some old uncle, you postpone it forever, and when you finally get there you always have a great time.


  Lovisa May 7, 2008 3:28 PM


Barcelona sounds fantastic !!! We hope to go there for our pre-wedding honeymoon in October and you have just tantilised my senses. Sounds like you are having a great time. I'm sending wedding invites out this coming weekend - where would you like me to send yours?
Take care, Sarah

  Sarah Park May 7, 2008 4:33 PM

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