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Spain 2010 – Days 0, 1, & 2: Barcelona

Welcome to my Spain 2010 Blog! This year I am traveling with my mother to the wonderful country of Spain. We’ll be touring the northern region of Spain including Catalan and Basque country. Seeing as how I am of Basque decent, I’m pretty excited to learn more about the culture! Anyway, let’s dive right in…

NOTE: Click on any of the images to pop open a larger version with captions. You can scroll through the images by clicking on the right or left side of each image. Click away from the pop-up to close it.

Day 0-1

As is the norm for European travel, the first two days are pretty much eaten up flying. I woke up at 4:30AM to catch my first flight. I went from Boise to Denver to Chicago to Munich and then finally on to Barcelona. By the time I finally got to sleep my first night in Barcelona, I’d been awake for over 32 hours.

Waiting in the Denver airport and thoroughly engrossed in my silly Nintendo DS puzzle game Checking out the Barcelona airport. I'm not feeling too bad after 20+ hours of flying, but it's a good thing this picture doesn't have smell-o-vision....

Once again, I am the youngest person on the tour, but that’s fine by me. Older folks appreciate the value of traveling more and have GREAT stories to tell. Our tour guide’s name is Sam and he’s originally from Australia (which means his English is excellent). He strikes me as quite a friendly fellow. I’ll try to get a picture of him up here later.

The hotel was quite nice and the dinner was your standard 3-course salad, meat, dessert affair. I would have pictures of such things to show you, but in my exhausted delirium, the thought slipped my mind. I slept quite well that night…

Zzzzzzz….

Day 2

For the first day of the vacation, we were treated to a guided tour by bus of some of the Barcelona highlights, focusing mainly on the incredible (inconceivable?) architecture of Antoni Gaudi. The first stop was Park Güell which is a very unique park designed by the famous architect.

Columns near the entrance to the park This is a house Gaudi actually lived in. It is now a museum that displays some of his other works. He did not design this building. The ceiling of a walkway that looks like precarious rocks could fall at any moment. A funky looking tree growing out of the rocks and creeping over the walkway out into the sun. Me standing in front of a funky tree in Park Güell Panorama of Park Güell Here's a man I spotted sitting in a niche in the wall with 5 very large, and fortunately very content dogs. He seemed quite Dog-Whisperer slash Genie-like Another pretty view in the park Fancy mosaic benches in Park Güell A panorama from the park balcony That's not a church. It's actually a funky Gaudi house with an elaborate chimney. The large viewing area with the fancy mosaic benches actually has a neat columned area underneath. The sounds of the local musicians echoes throughout. A cool looking mosaic lizard in Park Güell The view from beneath the lookout balcony My mother standing in an archway in Park Güell. The rocks were dug up from the immediate vicinity of the park and used in the construction of the park.

We spent about an hour or so touring the park with our guide, Christina. I thought the park was really cool. The architecture is supposed to compliment nature. I’m not sure I’d classify the structures as “natural” but they certainly were interesting. It was raining off and on the previous night and sprinkling through the day, so we had to watch our step moving around the park.

While in the park, I spotted a couple women playing the Medieval Hammered Dulcimer. Check it out:

After leaving the park, we loaded up onto our tour bus and headed a few short blocks to the location of another of Gaudi’s master works, to the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, which is a giant church/temple in the heart of Barcelona.

The backside of the Sagrada Família The church will have 18 total spires which represent the evangelists, mary, and jesus. They also represent the different seasons of the harvest which are indicated by the colorful bowls of fruit. This is a model of what the church will look like when completed. I found it in a glass case in a nearby gift shop. It's definitely interesting... It almost looks like a high-priced gingerbread cake. The grand entrance to the Sagrada Família A closer view of a couple of the taller spires.

The church is still very much under construction, but it dominates the skyline when you approach it. I’ve never seen a church quite like this one before, but I think that was partially the purpose of Gaudi’s designs. Unfortunately, we were unable to go inside the church and I guess it doesn’t really matter since very little of the interior is finished yet. They’re building the church using donations only and predict it will take another 25 years to complete.

Next we drove up to Montjuïc which is a large, flat hill overlooking Barcelona. It is the main site of the 1992 Olympics.

A panorama of the view from Montjuïc, a large hill overlooking the Barcelona port. Montjuïc is also the site of the Olympic games. A fountain on Montjuïc Some of the walkways on Montjuïc were quite ornate. This area looks like it's sprinkled with a bunch of upside-down beer bottles shoved into the concrete.

Afterwards, we drove back down into the city for lunch and I got my first taste of traditional Spanish tapas. Yum!

A traditional Tapas lunch at the Tapa Tapa restaurant in Barcelona. I had brie, risotto, fried artichoke, mushrooms, and teriaki kabobs. Lunch at Tapa Tapa in Barcelona. The Erdinger beer was quite a nice Belgian style ale.

Here are a couple more pictures I took along the way. Click them for more information.

Our bus drove past a protest in the streets. It appeared to be peaceful and orderly. The cops were basically escorting them down the street and re-directing traffic. This is a far cry from the vandilism I saw from the protests in Athens. Here's a cool looking building I saw on one of the main drags in Barcelona repleat with decorative umbrellas and a dragon.

For dinner, we went to a Flamenco show! The food and the dancing were both excellent. The theater itself was very small and had a nice intimate feeling. We were sitting in the second row right next to the side of the stage. If you’re ever in Barcelona, be sure to check out the Tablao Flamenco show.

Dinner at the Tablao Flamenco. It was a giant buffet featuring foods from all over Spain. I loaded up on mussels and calamari. As is normal for Spaniards, dinner wasn't even served until after 10pm! Flamenco dancers strutting their stuff. Flamenco woman striking a pose. She worked that long train on her dress pretty expertly.

My mother captured some videos and put together a nice composite. Check out the video below for a taste of what the Flamenco dancing was like. Note that audio on the video doesn’t really do the actual sound of the experience much justice.

Whew! What a day! If every day on this trip is like this, I am NEVER going to finish this blog (why lie?). We didn’t get to bed until after 2:00am. More adventure awaits tomorrow so I better catch what rest I can. See you then!

2 Responses to “Spain 2010 – Days 0, 1, & 2: Barcelona”

  1. on 21 Sep 2010 at 6:46 pm Jann Adams

    Thanks Mike for posting this and putting the link on FB. I have been fascinated by Gaudi’s work since I took an art appreciation course a very long time ago. I hope you have a wonderful trip. BTW, thanks for the vote of confidence of seniors as travelers! I’m looking forward to doing more after retirement next May.

  2. on 22 Sep 2010 at 9:23 am Crandal Boudreaux

    Where is the Inquisition?

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