A Travellerspoint blog

I hate tourists... oh wait.

sunny 23 °C

Hi everyone! Hope all is well. It has been another adventurous week, so hang on!

Last Saturday was the first time it really rained since I got to Barcelona. This turned out to be ok, since I was battling a bit of a cough and a day spent inside sipping tea wasn't the worst thing that could happen. It flew by, however, since on Friday night my roommate Matteo invited me to go out for a sail on Sunday. He works for the company Beyer (of Aspirin fame) as an accountant, and the company sets aside money for their employees to do fun things during their time off. His group rents a yacht periodically, and he had an extra spot so he invited me along. No way could I pass that up, so I ended up spending last Sunday on a 37' yacht cruising around Barcelona for the day. Unfortunately the wind was sub-par, but there was an air show over the beach that we watched while lounging. I could do that again anytime (minus getting quite sunburned... I forgot the sunscreen at home). We left from Badalona, a suburb just north of the city, and were on the water for about 6 hours. Sweet.


Yesterday, I decided to head to Parc Guell right after work. Parc Guell is one of the biggest attractions in Barcelona, as it was designed originally to be a settlement for the extra-affluent of Barcelona. Antoni Gaudi was tapped to do the architecture, so his whimsical style is everywhere. After around 12 years of development (from 1900 to 1912) the cause was abandoned, and the park was bought by the city and opened to the public. I went on a weekday evening hoping to catch it at a less-crowded time, but as I was headed there on the metro I read a stat that the park sees 4 million visitors a year. Roughly divided by 365... is over 10,000 visitors a day. So while it wasn't crawling like an anthill as I imagine it is sometimes, I managed to get few photos without a posing international. Such is life. Maybe I'll go back sometime at midnight.

Before I describe the park itself, let me say that the city has not helped alleviate the overcrowding problem. It is located on quite a hill just outside the city, which might have thinned the field by natural selection... except they have installed outdoor escalators up the back side of the park. It was such a strange sight to see escalators to seemingly nowhere, although there is a sizable part of me that was glad they were there.


So the escalators allow you to enter from the back of the park, but for ease, I will describe the entrance first (except for the benches, which I will describe, everything was designed by Gaudi, so I won't keep repeating myself). Also, I would recommend opening my Flickr page as you read through. Uploading photos here is a pain, but all of the things I talk about are also on Flickr, so check it out! http://www.flickr.com/photos/douglasclift

The gatehouses looked to me like gingerbread houses- albeit much more ably constructed gingerbread houses than I usually manage. One has been turned into a gift shop (of course) and I read that the other is open sometimes, but I need to investigate that more. Immediately after the gatehouses is the most recognizable image in Barcelona: the staircase guarded by Gaudi's 'Drac'. This mosaic lizard appears everywhere in Barcelona, except ironically in my photo collection because I couldn't snap a decent picture through the people posing/petting/napping on the lizard. Gah. Still an incredible sight to see and worth the frustration. At the top of the stair case is the 'Sala Hipostila', or Doric Temple-- A garden of 88 huge stone pillars, which were originally intended to be a marketplace for the Parc Guellers. Directly above the Sala is a wide open space which is actually porous and allows water rushing off the hill to percolate through the layer of stone and sand and through the market and into an underground cistern. What they were planning to do with it next I have no idea! Around the outside of this wide open space is another easily recognizable piece, actually designed by Gaudi's friend Josep Maria Jujol. His mosaic and highly curvaceous benches fit perfectly with Gaudi's style as they wind around the perimeter of this area. Also located in Parc Guell is the Casa-Museu Gaudi, which is the house in which Gaudi spent the last years of his life. It is expensive to visit, and unspectacular I have heard, so I didn't go in. Finally, all around the park are walkways and palisades built in the Gaudi style. Stones looked pieced together, but often there is something hidden in plain sight. Really an outstanding place.


So other than that, I am still going to work every day. I am learning how frustrating the Spanish sense of time can be, as I am still very dependent on my supervisor, and he is flighty to say the least. I hung around all day waiting for him to come in. Finally at 3:30 I wrote an e-mail asking where he might be, and when I didn't get a response left at four. Later, I checked the my e-mail and he responded at 5 saying he'd be in at 5:30. Huh? The work will be outstanding I think, once I have some freedom to run my own experiments and think for myself, but this dependency on other people's schedule is frustrating.

Today I went for a run. Which normally is an unremarkable occurrence, except for several observations I made. I am constantly amazed at how compact this city is. I spend 20 minutes on the Metro each morning getting to work, and never bothered to find out how far away it is, exactly. Turns out I can run there in about 20 minutes (depending on how many lights I have to stop at). This is constantly amazing to me as I realize that the city is not that huge. It is actually a really nice feeling. My next observation is how much I hate to run in the city. Luckily I have a relatively quiet park in my backyard so I never have to again if I so choose, but every time I got into a rhythm today I had to stop at a light. Or jump over a pug. Or dodge a six-year-old. I actually managed to run into a moped when he acted like he was gonna pull off the sidewalk and then just stopped in my path. I limped off with a charlie horse and a few muttered choice words. Also, I was listening to the radio and was stunned to hear unedited songs from the US playing. I suppose that curses in another language aren't monitored by whatever agency does that sort of thing here, but I was certainly taken aback the first time I heard it. Interesting.

Phew. I think that's all for now. I will upload those photos now, so check them out. As usual, hope all is well with you, and thanks for reading!! Hasta Luego!

Posted by dclift 22:35 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes art buildings

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I love the photos, thanks for sharing them. I think the size you chose is a good balance between quick to upload but still shows enough detail. I thought you did a nice job with the lizard fountain, though there were plenty of tourists parked on it. I bet you'd have a better chance of good photos in the early morning when the light might shine on it directly and folks would still be sleeping off staying up late?

I didn't realize Barcelona was that small either, very interesting.

Good luck figuring out your boss's schedule! I heard (long ago) that Spaniards say "Manana" a lot, but didn't realize it applied to the work day too.

Oh and you'll know you've adapted when you start swearing (at thoughtless moped-riders) in the native language! :-)

by Stew

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