Tag Archives: Spain

Hospitality, Part 2B? Sherry’s last days

So, wrapping up Barcelona with Sherry, having toured the Gothic part of Barcelona…

The part of Barcelona where the old cathedral is.

The part of Barcelona where the old cathedral is. Note the Google maps dude on the right actually MAPPING the courtyard! Seriously.

…we stopped at Park Guell, designed also by Gaudi, on the way out.

One of several entrances to the park, which has paying, controlled access to the most popular section.

One of several entrances to the park, which has paying, controlled access to the most popular section.

Truly funky architecture.

Truly funky architecture.

Street entertainers were everywhere, too.

Street entertainers were everywhere, too.

The acoustics must have been very appealing.

The acoustics must have been very appealing.

My friend enjoying the "concert."

My friend enjoying the “concert.”

Quite a few levels at a height above the old city.

Quite a few levels at a height above the old city.

I think he was going for caves, or something.

I think he was going for caves, or something.

It is very detailed. We only saw this section from a distance, because we didn't have time to wait for our paid assigned entry time.

It is very detailed. We only saw this section from a distance, because we didn’t have time to wait for our paid assigned entry time.

We finished up her trip with another visit into Toulouse, and found a classic era church, quite lovely.

A church from the 19th and 20th centuries...positively modern!

A church from the 19th and 20th centuries…positively modern!

The lighting inside was perfect for the windows!

The lighting inside was perfect for the windows!

The modern church.

The altar.

I hated to see her go, but we weren’t alone for long. My high school friend Jennifer took the extra room a week later!

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Hospitality Part 2, Barcelona (or, You Can’t Get Too Much of a Good Thing)

My husband and son accompanied me and Sherry to Barcelona. My friend Sherry is a beach girl; she lived a large portion of her life in Southern California, but she’s been landlocked in recent years. I thought she would really enjoy Barcelona and the Mediterranean, and I loved Barcelona so much I wanted to revisit it and share it with her.

Roadtrip!!

Roadtrip!!

I made sure our hotel had easy access to the beach.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

 

And to the right...

And to the right…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we made sure to have at least one seafood dinner on the beach. The size of my prawns was SHOCKING. Honestly, I couldn’t eat them alone. Sherry had to crack them open for me; I was just too grossed out.

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Then we toured the most-visited site in Spain, the Sagrada Familia, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Oh my! It really was different than any other cathedral I have visited.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo's beginning Spanish.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo’s beginning Spanish.

Click through to follow us on our tour… Continue reading

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Wrapping up Barcelona

For my final post (of 6? NO, NINE!) on Barcelona, I’ll just leave you with a sampling. Don’t forget to click for bigger photos.

Stoney and the girls browsing an antiques street-marche.

Stoney and the girls browsing an antiques street-marche.

Katie, my former barista, in front of one of the MANY Barcelona Starbucks. We don't have these in Toulouse, or southern France at all, and so we were daily visitors here.

Katie, my former barista, in front of one of the MANY Barcelona Starbucks. We don’t have these in Toulouse, or southern France at all, and so we were daily visitors here.

We found it odd that a sidewalk tent-shop would be selling birds in the cold winter. They sold EVERYTHING in the sidewalk tent shops.

We found it odd that a sidewalk tent-shop would be selling birds in the cold winter. They sold EVERYTHING in the sidewalk tent shops.

Just like in Toulouse, there were a ton of street performers, and after these guys finished playing their piano and saxophone, they pushed it where ever it came from. I definitely wondered as they past me at the 3 Cats.

Just like in Toulouse, there were a ton of street performers, and after these guys finished playing their piano and guitar, they pushed it  back where ever it came from. I definitely wondered as they passed me at the 4 Cats.

more Barcelona here

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Sculpture in Barcelona

As you may have guessed from the scenes I’ve shown you already, there is a lot of sculpture in Barcelona. I guess they’ve been collecting it for a really long time.

Probably the most famous  sculpture in Barcelona, Columbus pointing the way to New World, except...not exactly.

Probably the most famous sculpture in Barcelona, Columbus pointing the way to New World, except…not exactly.

He looks soo....confused.

He looks soo….confused.

They have newer forms, too…

The cutest man in the moon ever!

The cutest man in the moon ever!

Barc.fountain

Barc.knight

Barc.lions

Barc.statshepherd

Barc.statue2

This is only a fraction of what the city holds. If I lived here, I would find a sculpture every day and just study it, ponder it. There are enough to last me quite awhile.

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Shout It From the Rooftops!

That Jesus Christ is Lord!

At least, that is what I thought at the end of our elevator ride in the Barcelona Cathedral. Right after I heaved a sigh of relief for making it up unhurt, seeing as how the little box was stuffed quite full and actually heaved twice on its trip. Meet our view upon exiting the mysterious elevator (with a reminder that many photos enlarge for detail if you click on them):

ta-da!! That's right, the elevator spits you out right on the roof. This is the spire of the cathedral, at eye level.

ta-da!! That’s right, the elevator spits you out right on the roof. This is the spire of the cathedral, at eye level.

I am sure the bumpy elevator and shaky, bouncy catwalks are meant to grow the Believer’s faith in the Good Shepherd amid the inspiring points heavenward.

Note the flimsy walkway. I am not sure I actually breathed while walking up here, and definitely did NOT linger. Call me wimpy if you want.

Note the flimsy walkway. I am not sure I actually breathed while walking up here, and definitely did NOT linger. Call me wimpy if you want.

The view of the city really was amazing, though. It was a little Mary Poppins-ish (in the scene with Dick Van Dyke on the rooftops?) if Mary Poppins had been Catalonian instead of English.

over the rooftops

over the rooftops

and the other way

and the other way

And that is all of the cathedral I’ll share. I do try to edit, honestly. Unfortunately, there is still a ton of Barcelona left, even if I only walk you through half of what we saw and experienced, so I have a few more Barcelona posts to go. I’ll get back to France though, honest.

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The Cloister Garden in Barcelona

Beside the Cathedral is incorporated a cloister garden. It has a lovely fountain and pond, and for the holidays, a large nativity.

A shepherd watching wise men come to visit the baby Jesus. I know...not the Biblical chronology, but it saves time.

A shepherd watching wise men come to visit the baby Jesus. I know…not the Biblical chronology, but it saves time.

A frog fountain in the lovely pond.

A frog fountain in the lovely pond.

Why the lovely pond? Because traditionally the cloister is home to 13 geese. This cathedral is dedicated to Saint Eulalia, a girl martyr who is reputed to have stood for her faith against the Romans, and was martyred at 13. One goose for each of her years. Here is one…

A picturesque little goose perched on the pond. A dozen more out of sight around the corner.

A picturesque little goose perched on the pond. A dozen more out of sight around the corner.

Theo descending to the resting place of the martyred girl, beneath the raised altar area.

Theo descending to the resting place of the martyred girl, beneath the raised altar area.

The garden is surrounded on most sides by little crypt alcoves. One had a most dramatic carving atop its stone sarcophagus-thingie, and I had to try and record it for myself, but I couldn’t get a good photo. For one, the expectation is that you will show respect for each crypt area and not treat it like a celebrity photo opportunity; and for another, they are all seriously gated off to protect the MASSIVE amounts of gold leaf in so many of them.

Christ retrieved from the cross, in the arms of Joseph of Arimethea, and mourned by weeping women, presumably one of which is his mother. I wish I could have studied it closer and longer!

Christ retrieved from the cross, in the arms of Joseph of Arimethea?, and mourned by weeping women, presumably one of which is his mother. I wish I could have studied it closer and longer!

Next I’ll take you up in the Cathedral’s elevator (which probably isn’t original, I’m sure).

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The Barcelona Cathedral

There are really only a few buildings in the heart of Barcelona that can be truly said to command the city, but the Barcelona Cathedral is one of them.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The exterior alone is a marvel. It was built over a span of the 13th through 15th centuries, with most of the outer front facade being more recent.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face. Also note the dress code posted for those who wish to tour the cathedral.

the amazing details up close.

the amazing details up close.

Only Theo and I went in the Cathedral. It was pretty funny, because they don’t start charging until you turn 13, and the lady at the payment window asked (told) Theo how old he was, as he began telling her he was 13…”How old are you? You are 12, aren’t you? Right? You are 12, I am sure. Just nod…” She wouldn’t hear of anything else. Inside would have been well worth tickets for us both.

inside the Cathedral here

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The View from a Vespa

Stoney and I tootled around Barcelona on a Vespa, and especially had a nice time around the port and the beach.

There is a really interesting sculpture on the boardwalk. It sort of looks like a fish, sort of.

There is a really interesting sculpture on the boardwalk. It sort of looks like a fish, sort of.

that would be Mediterannean blue

that would be Mediterannean blue

My favorite ship of the many tall ships.

My favorite ship of the many tall ships.

The view of the city from the port.

The view of the city from the port.

The arc was pretty amazing, too.

Easy scooter access.

Easy scooter access.

The arc up close.

The arc up close.

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Following Picasso through Barcelona

Anyone who has browsed much on this blog can tell I enjoy art. In fact, one of my top five most-viewed posts, even today, is one in which I introduced elementary art students to cubism. So it should be no surprise that my number one experience in Barcelona was the walking tour in the steps of Picasso.

The guide, to the left, mesmerizing my daughters, to the right.

The guide, to the left, mesmerizing my daughters, to the right.

Our guide was very engaging and very knowledgeable. The focus of the tour was really Picasso’s Barcelona years, the years of his youth and young adulthood. Our first stop taught me several new things about Barcelona, as well as Picasso. This is the Three Cats bar, where Picasso met friends and held his first exhibition.

The 4 Cats in the heart of Barcelona.

The 4 Cats in the heart of Barcelona.

This is also where I learned that historic buildings in Barcelona are marked with a plaque set into the pavement in front of them. If the information on the plaque matches the name of the current business, it is a very old enterprise indeed. And The 4 Cats is a historic treasure.

An example plaque, as I did not get a good shot of the one 4 Cats.

An example plaque, as I did not get a good shot of the one at 4 Cats.

The tour was so engaging that even my younger daughter, who has little interest in art, said she enjoyed it.

The tour was so engaging that even my younger daughter, who has little interest in art, said she enjoyed it. And the doorfront of the bar is gorgeous, eh?

The most striking, obvious mark of Picasso on the city is the College of Architecture building. The story of how Picasso basically snuck this contribution in, which, although his design, had to be sandblasted into the stone by another, was very interesting.

Barc.picassobull

picasso.easter

We got to see where the Picasso family lived, and how illustrative it was of their relative poverty. We also saw where his first studio was, compared to his last. The whole tour really walked you through his increasing struggle to distance himself from his father. The best part, though, was arriving at the Picasso museum, bypassing the loooong and winding LINE for the entrance! Man, that was delightful! Just marched right past a whole SLEW of tourists! Very satisfying, actually, and the museum building itself was just beautiful. And large.

Arriving at the Picasso Museum.

Arriving at the Picasso Museum.

The museum was wonderful. It is the collection of the Picasso family, and easily demonstrated his mastery of classical art in his teens, and his growth and experimentation over the years. I just wish I had been more forward-thinking earlier in the day. We had already walked the city several hours BEFORE the two hour tour, and by its end, I was so tired. And my feet were SO sore. I wanted badly to use my ticket to continue exploring the museum in depth, but had to concede the day and head back to the Metro and our hotel. It was such a wonderful experience, though! I was wishing the whole time I could use the information and experiences to the benefit of my former students back home!

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5 Reasons Barcelona is Not Southern Toulouse

There are only a few hours’ difference between here and there, which in the States often doesn’t make a big change in experience; but here it is a world of difference between the two cities.

(1) One of the most noticeable differences is coming into the city. Toulousains don’t really lay on their car horns much. A little beep in France really gets your attention in part for its rarity. Barcelonans use car horns like a conversational tool. The blare of a horn is frequent, loud and long. They also employ them toward pedestrians as much as other vehicles.

(2) Speaking of transportation, in Toulouse, bicycles are everywhere. Scooters and small motorcycles are plentiful, too, but not nearly to the extent of bikes. In Barcelona, scooters crawl like ants through the city. They park in large packs. I saw relatively few bikes. I blame the VERY hilly terrain of the city. On the positive side, so very many scooters meant my husband felt comfortable suggesting a scooter rental for ourselves! woohoo! Yes, we rode a scooter through Barcelona! And yes, we got honked at several times.

back from touring

back from touring

(3) Ok, Toulousains love their dogs. I concede this; they are walked all over, and appear at cafes and the mall. But Barcelonans? They must be CRAZY for dogs. It was like every third person had a dog! Dogs of all sizes and shapes. Multiple dogs being walked at a time, often. They were everywhere! And not quite as well behaved as the French dogs, too, it seemed, but that is probably neither here nor there.

just one example of many

just one dog of many, and note the scooters.

(4) Language. Toulousains pretty much speak French. As you walk around the city and interact, you may hear a little German, a little English, even a smattering of Spanish, and you can often (though not always) find someone to speak a little English with you. Barcelona is filled with a concert of language. You are surrounded by Catalan, Spanish, English, French, and you can hear German or Dutch, probably Italian, and languages I’m sure I didn’t recognize, including Asian languages. It was delightful! And Barcelonans themselves often seemed multilingual. Many people we interacted with would seamlessly turn from speaking one language to the people in front of us to English to us, to Catalan to the coworker beside them.

(5) The dress. Toulousains are very well put together. Really, pretty much all the time, everywhere. Cute shoes are the norm, and the women rarely wear their tennies out and about. Sweat pants are almost never seen in a non-workout setting. The guys usually look pretty sharp, too. There is plenty of color and casual clothing, but especially in downtown Toulouse, black is a strong contender. Barcelonans, however, look…comfortable. Don’t misunderstand, they aren’t sloppy dressers. Not at all! But most folks just looked comfortable and loose in whatever they were wearing. I considered at first that this might be the high tourist population, but since our hotel was in a much less touristy district and still teemed with well- but comfortably dressed people, I feel safe extending this as a generalization. It’s enough of a difference to invade your consciousness within a few hours of tramping around town.

Frankly, I really enjoyed Barcelona. It was a really comfortable city with an exotic feel. But Toulouse still rules for classiness!

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