Friday, March 11, 2011

Del Banco - Dias dos

Del banco - Dias dos - Barcelona

Viernes febrero 25th 2011

Our first real day in Barcelona. I thought that breakfast was until 10:30, but when we got down to the kitchen at 10am, it was over.
Placa Reial
Placa Reial

What you see when you walk
down almost any street


Thankfully we made it in time for the free walking tour of the Old City. It is also known as the Gothic tour because the main neighbourhood we explored was the Barri Gotic. Our friends, Leeah and Erik came too. Apart from them and our tour guide, Tom, we did not really get to know anyone on the tour, nobody was overly chatty.
Can you see the colors?

Urban Vegetation

just another road


We started in Plaça Reial. It is one of the oldest squares in Barcelona. It was the first square to have electric lamp posts. We walked all around the Barri Gotic, checking out cathedrals, streets and hidden places of interest. All of which contribute to the rich history of Barcelona. Tom did an awesome job of filling us with this history. Some things of interest, mainly to me:

Basilica Santa Maria de la Mar
The Porters
The Interior

- The history of the flag of Catalunya. Wilfred the Hairy, a great warrior was given a golden shield by the king when he was sent to slay the dragon (this dragon come up time and time again in the legends/history). The shield did not have a crest on it, so Wilfred the Hairy (he was so hairy that he even had hair on the bottom of his feet) stuck his hand in an open wound on his side and drew four red stripes of blood across the shield. And thus, the flag of Catalunya is golden/yellow with four red horizontal stripes.
Palais de la Generalitat
bottom left you can see my fave protestor.

fighting for the cause .

- Space Invaders. Some guy from Paris makes little mosaics of Space Invaders and puts them up all over major cities in the world, ‘Invading’. Of the 17 in Barcelona, we saw two. Also, nobody knows who this guy is. Mysterious.

For Santa Eulalia

- - They do celebrate Valentine’s Day, but there is another holiday of the like in April. Sant Jordi is on April 23rd. Men walk around with a rose and women with a book, and when they find their ‘Love’, they exchange gifts. Romantic, eh? The day is the death day of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, which explains the book connection. Unsurprisingly, about 75% of Barcelona’s book sales occur at this time when the streets become overflowing with book and flower stands.

an explanation.
Sara & I across the pond
from the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia
bad sun position
and obviously still under
the inside. :O
Basilica de Santa Maria de la Mar. Just another church. Ha, ok, so it is really old, from the 1300s. The porters that helped with the construction are depicted on the front doors. The church has endured numerous fires over the centuries as well as an earthquake in the 1400s. The earthquake caused the rose window to fall right out, causing a number of casualties. The present window now depicts flames (instead of a flower) to pay tribute to the fires that occurred in the first hundred years or so of its history.

can you feel the forest?
(its the roof!)
see the sun
how can you not love this?

- We visited the Old Jewish Quarter where all the Jews rounded up and all put in one area to live in ridiculously cramped quarters. The streets were so narrow there was barely any space between the buildings which were obviously a lot taller. We saw the oldest synagogue in Barcelona, which was in a basement and did not make for a very good photo, but still was fairly cool. You can go on guided visits at the small price of a donation, and the money is put towards the restoration of the building.

love tourist fams

love this roof

sweet stairs
- Plaça de Sant Jaume. Here we find the Casa de la Ciudad (Town Hall) and the Palais de la Generalitat. We also found a man picketing very passionately about how the city needs to rid itself of crime, as well as a man who was very well set up, as if he come every single day (which Tom informed us, he does).

check the light flow

through the stained glass.
so fortunate.
- Santa Eulalia. No, this is not a Spanish Santa Clause, quite different. Long, long ago, during one of the many times that the Spanish were prosecuting nearly anyone for anything, there was a thirteen year old girl names Eulalia. When she heard of people having to renounce their faith, she immediately went to the King and ordered him to stop. Obviously this did not go over well with the King, so he gave her thirteen chances to renounce her own faith. Each time when she went to the king and denied, she was tortured in gruesome ways, each time she survived. The thirteenth time, when she was put in a wooden barrel full of silver knives and rolled down a street. She died and a dove rose from her body. She became a very ‘popular’ saint and many streets, cathedrals, you name it, are named after her. Of which, the very street that she was rolled down, which we got to see.

light on glass.
Branches like trees.

rose window
nativity facade. oldest part built
under gaudis direction
- Plaça Nova. Here there is the very ugly and plain building housing the school of architecture as well as Cathedral, which was being restored. In December, people gather and create human castles. They usually get to be ten tiers high and top it off with a very small child. Incredible.

details details details

nativity facade
- There are two Catalan Christmas traditions that involve poop. Lovely, I know. The first: Children place a log in the living room, and each night leading up to Christmas they leave milk and cookies out to feed it. On Christmas Eve, once it has become very well fed, they do not leave out any snacks, it has to digest you know, and when they return in the morning, the log is sitting on a large pile of presents, which it has pooped out. I personally, prefer Santa Clause. The second: Nativity scenes are just as popular with the Catalan as they are with the French. Only, the Catalan have an extra special character that they add in to the scene: someone hunkered over, pants at their ankles, having a poop. These figures are so popular, that you can even get them in the form of celebrities such as Obama, Madonna and of course, football stars.

its still amazing

tops of the main facade
oh look its me
we made it!
After the tour, Sara, Erik, Leeah and I carried onto the Tapas tour. It was not much of a tour because we just went to one restaurant, but it was very delicious. Once we were fed, Sara and I went to the Sagrada Familia. It was absolutely amazing. I was in awe. For one, it is gigantic. I had no idea how big it was. We went across the street to a small park where we were able to take in the whole thing. Lots of people do not like the Temple of the Sagrada Familia, which is understandable. I can see how it could appear ugly: a large hunk of concrete that looks like melting wax. At least from the outside, from far away. You get closer and you can see all of the incredible sculptures and detail that make up the creation. Birds flying right out of the cement, tortoises making up the feet of columns. There is an amazing amount of work and creativity to be seen. Although from the outside there is not a lot of color, being made mainly of grey cement weathered to a brown in some older areas and the odd burst of colour from mosaics, the inside is wonderful. Not being as old (in some places) as the outside, the interior is full of towering columns that branch up to the roof (which has very recently been installed) like trees. To keep in the forest theme, when the sun shines through the stained glass windows, the light plays in the same way as the light shines down through the tree leaves. The original architect, who came up with this work of madness, was Gaudi. He really had quite the mind. He decided that all the funding for the project would come solely from donations, which is why, 119 years later, it is still unfinished, and also why the admission to the interior are nearly 15 euro.
it was windy...

some color.

After the Sagrada Familia we headed out to do some wandering and shopping on the eastern side of La Rambla. Still in the area of Plaça Reial, we walked up and down Carrer Ferran and the streets off between it and Carrer de la Boqueria all the way to Plaça de Sant Jaume where we had been earlier on the tour. Getting late, we circled back to the hostel.

carrer ferran
Back at the hostel, we recruited a girl named Erin from Australia to join us on the Tapas and Flamenco tour. We three walked down La Rambla towards the beach to the meeting point: the Columbus Monument. Sure it was big and well light, but there really was not much to photograph. Erik and Leeah showed up too, which was awesome as we completed a solid posse.
flamenco band

First we went to get tapas. The place was pretty nice, but did not have enough for our fairly large group, so we waited for the second round of tapas to be brought out so we even got some super fresh. Here are some examples of the tapas they had available: Serrano and cheese on bread, chorizo and cheese on bread, tortilla (which is like omelettes) on bread, croquettas (cylinders of mashed potatoes and minced meat, varying between chicken, turkey, beef and fish, that are breaded then fried and vary from being fast food to a delicacy) also on bread. These were pretty good, but the ones we had at lunch were better.

wicked fast.
and super intense.

Next we went to the flamenco show. I had no idea what to expect. Flamenco is one of the only dances where the musicians follow the dancer. Which I found really interesting. The dance was very passionate from the passionate from the facial expressions to the clapping, stomping and snapping, to how insanely fast she moved. It was amazing, I could not even get a clear photo.


  1. Barcelona :-The photos you took make the Barcelona you toured look as Spanish as I thought it would. They, the photos, were great. I'm glad you went, took these photos then put them on your blog so we could enjoy them.

  2. :)
    just wait for the next bit!!
    and thank you

  3. Ahhhh having a forest ceiling is the COOLEST idea I have ever heard.... I want one!
    Okay, new plan: when I somehow either acquire the talent &/or the money, I will built a house with a forest ceiling. it will be magnificent. And to top it off, I'll grow a garden on my actual rooftop. Don't ask questions - it will happen.

  4. Oh, and PS: my rooftop garden will be a conservation area for gnomes in their natural habitat.

  5. Pretty cool architecture and great pictures. Your little cousins will enjoy the Christmas poop stories (or be terrified of having a log in the house).

  6. forst ceiling: i will never doubt you.
    rooftop garden : never doubted this either, arent they all the rage being litteral 'green roofs" and all?
    gnomes: no comment <3
    dad: it was. i wan teveryone i know to see it, in real life!! and the poop stories..well, yeah....