Saturday, March 31

Park Guell Columns: Mathematical Architecture

Park Guell Columns: Mathematical Architecture
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A man playing guitar in the quietness of the 86 Doric columns below the famous terrace where many of you have been chatting and enjoying the view over Barcelona city. The colonnade may look sober in design but it is strong and stable thanks to the mathematical perfection of its architecture. Maybe that is what creates the wonderful acoustics this musician is taking profit of. The ceiling incorporates colorful mosaic plafonds that cannot be appreciated here due to the counter light effect. I liked the way this light pierced through the corridors onto the polished floors. Here is a Google Earth image of Parc Guell and specifically the terrace under which you could listen the melodic notes of this classic guitar musician or many other artists. See also these other pictures at Gaudi All Gaudi. This a digital photo but I used some lab color effect to make it look like film.

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Friday, March 30

Homeless Immigrants in Barcelona


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Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack, And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?...Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down, Letting the days go by/water flowing underground, into the blue again/after the money's gone, Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground. Hmm...Talking Heads. If you read between the lines and you look at this man sitting here on top his belongings, leaning on that platain tree and staring vacantly into space in the middle of Plaça Catalunya you will realize that your future is always balancing on a tight but uncertain rope, today you are here and tomorrow you are there, into the blue again after the money is gone. Being homeless in Barcelona or in any other big city is really tough but being homeless and an immigrant is even worse.

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Thursday, March 29

The Age of Innocence: Young Little Adults

The Age of Innocence: Young Little Adults
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Three little kids in their carnival costumes last February in Barcelona. Concentrated, looking at bigger students parading in fancy outfits. I didn't ask them to stand still, they were like statues themselves pricking their ears and absorted. What do you see when you contemplate this scene? Do you still see the child inside yourself? Do you remember you once lived in the age of innocence? If only we could be in their shoes, at least spiritually, and rediscover colors, fantasy, nice smells, euphoria, laughter, the warmth of our parents' hands and see only kindness in our peers' eyes. I don't take many photos of kids but I really enjoyed these young little adults.

Wednesday, March 28

Black and White Garden Bursts on Fire

Black and White Garden Bursts on Fire
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I don't have plenty of time today as you can guess by the hour I publish yet another wild fantasy of mine. Had it been other times people would say the shaman did not measure quite well that LSD dose on me. I was playing with this sort of cactus, which originally is greenish or brownish in tones and wondered what would happened if I took a black and white version of the photograph and set it on fire with a thermal camera effect in Photoshop. On a closer look it is really burning hot!

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Tuesday, March 27

Sunset in the Fields

Sunset in the Fields
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This is a dark picture, in fact it is totally counterlight but that's the fun of it. It is meant to be watched from the distance as there is not much to distinguish in the dusky light of the foreground. These weeds were at least two times taller than me. I was walking along a path and the sun was all the time scintillating among the stems at sight level. Fortunately there was a plane leaving a white smoke trail too and in a way completed my ackward composition and daring shot. In the larger image you can get a little bit more detail perhaps. I wasn't pretty sure about this one but it helps diversifying the subject after recent animal and food issues.

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Monday, March 26

Cricket Farewell

Cricket Farewell
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We will keep dealing with the food topic but from a different perspective: food that is alive!. What do you think happened next? Well this is no national geographic documentary and I was not on a trip in the wild commisioned with big money. This picture was taken in the quiet atmosphere of a reptile terrarium, the cricket was placed there on purpose for the shot and the salamander (as usual I am not sure if this is a salamander) did eat the poor animal. We paid a visit to a friend of us who's quite addicted to crawling creepy things and he gently showed me all of his "trophies". An offer I could not reject. I took some decent pictures and we sat at the table to eat paella trying to dismiss disgusting thoughts about slimy creatures in the next room.

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Sunday, March 25

Spanish Tapas: Tortilla or Spanish Omelette


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Barcelona is not very prone to bull fighting, sangrias, finos, manzanillas or anything that may sound too Spanish-like. But there is one thing that everyone tends to overlook in this excess of zeal: Spanish tapas or wine. Humm, those delicious plates full of olives with anchovies, fried squid, white anchovies in vinegar, tuna
balls or Spanish omelette in the picture. If you follow the tapas cook book link above you will find some recipes and good information about the history of tapas. I hope you can finish reading this post today without running to the kitchen and snatching a good bite of whatever thing edible.

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Saturday, March 24

Mini Classic Cars: A Car Entrepreneur's Dream


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A '76 BL MINI 1000 MK-III, I believe, one of the famous mini classic car variants that remind me of Mr. Bean's mini. I recall those hilarious scenes where Mr Bean locked the car doors with a padlock or when he bumped into the same old rickety car to park his Austin mini and specially the episode about the death of his car. Minis have changed a lot over the years, and now you can even design your own at will (see here) but I still prefer vintage cars. This is a picture from my archives. It was taken at Auto Retro Barcelona (check Google labels below for more or see my Classic cars set at Flickr), a classic car exhibition at Fira de Barcelona in Montjuic. It was a delight to see these oldtimers so close and I stayed in the parking lot shooting. It was an event for classic car enthusiasts and dealers so I was thinking about starting a classic car loan company (collector car financing is becoming a big business nowadays) but suddenly I found out that the entrance fee to the venue was unaffordable.

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Friday, March 23

Mascot Uniforms and Color Brochures for Barcelona Restaurants in El Born

Mascot Uniforms and Color Brochures for Barcelona Restaurants in EL Born
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El Born is a trendy area of the Casc Antic (old part of the city) in between Via Laietana and Parc de la Ciutadella. With the arrival of tourists, immigration, and the economic bliss, the neighborhood has experienced a sudden burst of neat design bars and restaurants serving great food and creating a fantastic atmosphere day and night. Here is a list of some recommended restaurants in El Born and a small map. It was not usual to see the typical college or sports mascot handling brochures to advertise restaurants in Barcelona but business is business; by the way, I liked that stunning blue of the uniform so I got it for you too.

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Thursday, March 22

Flower Stock Photography

Flower Stock Photography
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La Rambla again, I am standing in front of the flower stalls. I have always loved flowers but since I carry my Nikon and have a knack for photography I am even more fascinated by flashy colors, hues, nuances, palettes. I am fond of those with dark violet tones and the way they seem to absorb light into the flower (some kind of optical illusion I guess). In this shot even though I cropped a little I was not able to isolate one or two subjects to stand out from the background as would be recommended, although I still like the colors. I think at least it will grow my flower stock photography. Did you notice that a lot of photography fields and webs carry the word "stock"? Are you aware of well known sites such as Corbis, Istockphoto or Fotosearch hosting huge databases of images submitted by photographers. In some cases the process is fully professional and photography friendly but in many, marketing interests prevail. How many times have you uploaded a picture that meets all requirements and it has been shunned because it doesn't apply to the needs of clients. A family picture ends up looking like a TV ad and the picture of any object looks all of a sudden surgically aseptic. Now you understand what I meant by "my" flower stock photography.

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Wednesday, March 21

Human Statues at La Rambla: Hypnotic Cleopatra

Human Statues at La Rambla: Hypnotic Cleopatra
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Las Ramblas of Barcelona, that multicolor promenade full of art nouveau architecture, museums, souvenir shops, hotels, people and even caged animals and flowers is also a big showcase for artists, street artists, talented and anonymous, who have given a new style to one of the main arteries in the city. Some try to regulate their activity or even ban it laying obstacles in the way. I just can't imagine La Rambla without human statues like this Cleopatra enduring for hours in straining postures and under tons of makeup. Help art and do not strangle it. Save your laws for pickpockets and similar scoundrel procreating in Las Ramblas.

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Tuesday, March 20

Reflections on Golden Pond: L'Estany d'Ivars

Reflections on Golden Pond: L'Estany d'Ivars
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This is L'Estany d'Ivars. Created about a hundred and fifty years ago it was dried in 1951 to cultivate the land. Now it is to become one of the largest lakes in Catalonia and a natural park specially rich in migrating species of birds that are returning to their natural habitat. As to this sunset picture, I just have to suggest you try to look it horizontally too. It resembles some kind of root or a gigantic caterpillar, with some imagination of course.

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Monday, March 19

Human Statues at La Rambla: Captain

Human Statues at La Rambla: Captain
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This serious captain rang the bell and steered the wheel at the beat of the coins falling on his can. With a stern look and full of tar he was chasing his own white whale accompanied by the chant of syrens in his ipod.

Recommended Site: Fabulous Quicktime VR 360 degree panorama of Mars surface.

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Sunday, March 18

Flowers Against the Sky

Flowers Against the Sky
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Just another bunch of flowers to entertain the new week and administer the daily dose of energy to those friends living in cold weather countries. They have announced a drop in temperatures in Barcelona but I don't think it lasts too long after the good spring days we have enjoyed recently.

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Saturday, March 17

Ronaldinho Wears a Smile

Ronaldinho Wears a Smile
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Today FC Barcelona plays against Recreativo de Huelva. After saying farewell to Champions League tournament, Barcelona's team is trying to stay on top of the charts but is followed closed by other fierce rivals such as Sevilla FC or Valencia. Ronaldinho is still the cornerstone of our team in spite of his ups and downs. A star like him well deserves all of our support so here goes this funny portrait of a human statue in Las Ramblas to honor the good humor and his "joga bonito" way of life.

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Friday, March 16

The Musings of an Escargot

The Musings of an Escargot
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"Where did everybody go?" - wondered the anguished snail. "Something is cooking around here?." It must be terrible to wake up from the winter lethargy to find yourself in a big pan full of salt and no one else on sight. Well, in fact the rest was there too but very busy bubbling salt away. After shooting the poor creature with my camera and watch it go on the way to the fire, I sat and had my lamb chops silently contemplating the rest of participants in this sort of pagan ritual, compulsory introduce their toothpicks to withdraw the snails from the shell. They were having what is known in Catalan as Cargols a la Llauna (something like "roasted snails"), a traditional dish, mainly in spring, in the open, although served in restaurants too. In France it is common and highly appreciated, in many ways, which gives the snail a high cuisine category and price in the menu. They call it Escargot, a word coming from Catalan, and exported the dish to the USA in the XIX century. There are snail feeding farms and the most common to consume are the brown garden snails (Helix aspersa) or the Roman Snails (Helix pomatia). There is evidence that snails were roasted already in Roman times so there's no need to claim any autorship here. I never had a knack for slimy and crawling things but it is fun to see my friends laugh and enjoy the food. I really had a nice pre-spring weekend. Check 58 recipes for Escargots (FR.)

Note: Cargols a la Llauna is a dish original from Lleida, Catalonia.

Recommended link of the day: A Color Picker.

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Thursday, March 15

Begging in Downtown Barcelona

Begging in Downtown Barcelona
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Not all is comfort and hedonism in Barcelona, there is also a dark, submerged world that pops out here and there gaining momentum with globalization and precarity. On my way from Las Ramblas to Plaça Catalunya I came across this beggar. It called my attention that she (maybe he) was wearing a hood and an empty sleeve was showing where the arm was supposed to be. On a second glance you could guess the shape of an arm folded under the jacket. I can't swear it was a fake cause I had my doubts but I couldn't help thinking on the growing number of professional beggars spreading in downtown Barcelona and the fierce competition they suppose to the real needed people.
Read here about warnings given by tourists about dangers in Barcelona. There is a letter that clearly illustrates typical professional beggar tricks.

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Wednesday, March 14

Hotel Montecarlo at La Rambla, Barcelona

Montecarlo Hotel at La Rambla, Barcelona
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We will still explore La Rambla for some time so why not peek into one the hotels nearby just to show you how it feels when you can afford to pay for good accomodation in the city (money makes the difference). This is the entrance to Hotel Montecarlo at La Rambla, 124. And old palace from the XIX century completely restored. The building was the headquarters of the Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona and some newspapers. It seems to be a wonderful hotel according to the good reviews I have read at Trip Advisor. For the time being I show you the entrance and the fabulous lamp (notice there is a different lamp in the picture at Hotel Montecarlo site). Which one do you prefer?

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Tuesday, March 13

Flower Bouquet at La Rambla dels Flors

Flower Bouquet at La Rambla dels Flors
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Not faraway from the animal stalls in my previous post we come across Rambla dels Flors or Rambla de Sant Josep. Spring is coming and there is a sudden outburst of colors cheafly in the mornings when flowers are still fresh and flashy. The sound of birds and the exuberant plants on both sides of the promenade make a stroll down La Rambla quite a pleasant experience, but as I said, in the early hours when the streets are less crowded. The combination of flowers in this bouquet really caught my attention. I don't do wedding photography but the bride would surely look spectacular holding one of these.

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Monday, March 12

Exotic animals at La Rambla: Iguana

Exotic animals at Las Ramblas: Iguana
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If I am not in a mistake (you know that classifying animals is not my specialty) this is a green iguana. Exotic specimens like this can be bought in some of the several animal stalls at La Rambla, to be more precise at La Rambla dels Estudis, also known as La Rambla dels Ocells (Birds). The stalls give color to the walk, both those selling animals or the ones selling flowers, and are part of the history of this famous street. But there have been protests against animal vendors by animal rights activists (check their captive animals gallery here). The City Council is trying to regulate vendors' activities and surely will end up reconverting the 14 stalls as there is a project to open interactive information stands for tourists on the same place. In the meantime they are still there as their business is totally legal thanks to a permit granted by the City Council itself. I reckon animals should live in better conditions but owners and their families should be compensated properly too.

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Sunday, March 11

FC Barcelona - Real Madrid Fever At Las Ramblas, Barcelona

FC Barcelona - Real Madrid Fever At Las Ramblas, Barcelona
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Barça - Madrid yesterday ended up 3 - 3 thanks to a wonderful hat trick scored by Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi. Those of you who don't like soccer and prefer other sports please skip this part. As you know whenever there's an important match like this, Barcelona is somewhat soccer-dependant for one day. We decided to take a walk down Las Ramblas (I took some more pictures of human statues for my set at Flickr) and you could feel the prematch mood flowing in the wind. Lots of tourists and locals wearing Barça uniforms and even some very "happy" fans betting on who was able to run in Barça underwear around Plaça Catalunya like this young follower. Here is one of Las Ramblas street artists, in this case a man kicking the ball nonstop with every possible part of his body. I lost my count and get bored so I kept on going. By the way there is a man called the Maradona of las Ramblas doing the same stuff, who had the Guiness record for this activity and has even a fan club.
Important note: Today March 11th is the sad third anniversary of the terrible terrorist bombings in Madrid. A solemn act to honor those killed is taking place as I write this, so my deep sympathy to all those affected.

Saturday, March 10

The Pillars of Catalan Art Nouveau or Modernisme

The Pillars of Catalan Art Nouveau or Modernisme
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The Palau de la Música Catalana built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner between 1905 and 1908 and declared a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO in 1997 is considered one of the pillars of Catalan Art Nouveau or Modernisme. In times of industrial expansion, growth of the local bourgeoisie and increasing opposition to Castilian rule a movement of artistic revival or Renaixença comes to life. An intelectual and cultural development expressed in music, poetry, theatre, newspapers, visual arts, politics or architecture (also known as modernisme), a sort of "anxiety" about being modern, inspired by France and other European cultural powers, a generational fight to detach from the conservative society still anchored in the imposed manners of the early eighteenth century Bourbon dynasty.
Trivia: Many of you already know that it is almost impossible to frame this façade properly as the Palau is surrounded by narrow streets like Sant Pere Mes Alt in the picture, thus the odd angle you see. If you manage to climb on top of the neighboring buildings and take a good picture just let me know how you did it!

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Friday, March 9

Juicy Barcelona

Juicy Barcelona
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On the way up to Plaça Sant Jaume along Jaume I street and coming from Via Layetana, there is this small cafeteria where you can stop and drink some juice made out a good selection of fruit. I am always tempted by the colors when I pass them by and I see tourists standing there refreshing their throats after a long day's walk. It is weird but I have never tried those before in this part of town, maybe because there is this secret rule that it is foolish to spend money happily in the most touristic parts of the city, especially when I have Santa Caterina market nearby and I can fix myself a bucket full of juice. Lousy tightpocket! Hey, no joking now, have a sweet happy weekend, and do try this place if you come to Barcelona.

Thursday, March 8

Bush in Flames

Bush in Flames
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That is all there is to it, a pile of bush in flames. A huge amount of branches in fact, next to a country road. I thought it was beautiful so I pulled over and took the risk. But upon writing this post I realized the word "bush" was great not because of President Bush of course but because it is sadly an important keyword. So as I am also interested in SEO I decided to give it a try. Thanks to this a read something about the burning bush and the miracle of God in wikipedia, so you see some bushes have enriched my knowledge. I should explore variations of the word "fire", maybe "firing Bush" or "Bush Office is on fire". We could talk about search engine optimization some other time if you are interested of course. The photograph was taken on a hurry as we were on our way to lunch and besides it was burning hot!

Wednesday, March 7

Iberians: On the Track of my Ancestors

Iberians: On the Track of my Ancestors
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What do you see? An intense blue, some tiny trees and stones, silent stones. How old can these stones be?...Here I am leaning on a crumbling wall and pointing with my camera at the horizon pretending in vain to see the same my ancestors saw from this very spot at some other time. Maybe, who knows, they were fearing that invaders showed up at any moment behind those walls. My body, a microoscopic drop of water in this weird universe is standing right now in Pre-Roman "Spain". I am touching the foundations of an Iberian town buried here for hundreths of years. These rocks have witnessed so many things!...if only they could tell me. A complete village surrounded by two defensive walls in the middle of a vast valley in the Catalan province of Lleida or Lltirta in early Iberian times. The exact place: El Molí d'Espígol (Tornabous, Lleida)

Tuesday, March 6

Monument to the Martyrs of 1809

Monument to the Martyrs of 1809
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This is the Monument to the Martyrs of 1809, at Garriga i Bachs Square in the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) of Barcelona. It honors the memory of men executed during Napoleonic occupation (see Napoleonic Wars). The bronze sculpture was made by Josep Llimona and the wall relief by Vicenç Navarro in 1941.
PS: By the way I hope FC Barcelona players don't look as dead and cold as these statues when they visit Liverpool tonight to stay in the Champions League tournament.

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Monday, March 5

Almond Tree Flowers in the Early Spring

Almond Tree Flowers in the Early Spring
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To start the new week a refreshing image of the fast upcoming spring: an almond tree as taken yesterday somewhere in Catalonia. Notice that the flowers are not mere blossoms but they are fully grown. It has been a spring day, a hot spring day in fact as I had to wear a T-shirt for a while. I hope these almond tree flowers give those of you enduring a bad weather something to dream on in the meantime. Hey, this is intended to make you happy not to make anybody feel envious!

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Sunday, March 4

Lichen on An Ancient Rock

Lichen on An Ancient Rock
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This lichen was growing on an ancient rock. Of course you can't tell how old the stone is but it is very old as it is part of the foundations of an Iberian town. The Iberians were living in this part of Europe long before the Romans came to "civilize" them. I will show you the ruins some time this week. For the moment, I just wanted to share the texture with you.

Saturday, March 3

Sardana Player Blowing the Horn in Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Sardana Player Blowing the Horn in Barri Gotic, Barcelona
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After yesterday's post I was missing the upper perspective from the stairs right behind the musicians which were playing sardanas for people in the square right in front of Barcelona Cathedral in Barri Gothic. This man was playing the horn. I have found out that there are many types of horns but I just can't figure out this one.

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Friday, March 2

Sardana Dancers in Front of Barcelona Cathedral

Sardana Dancers in Front of Barcelona Cathedral
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Sardana dancers in front of Barcelona cathedral. I was standing right behind the musicians that were on the stairs to the temple as usual. There were several groups, and although this is quite a common sight in the city it called my attention to see so many old people dancing and enjoying the hell out of them like babies in the winter sun.
Note: This afternoon most of my images could not be seen due to image hosting server bandwith issues. My free account at Photobucket exceeded a limit I was unaware of and they prevented my smaller size pictures from going live. As a result of that inconvenience I am a "proud" owner of a pro account now. I apologize if any of you dropped by and came across the mess.

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Thursday, March 1

Barri Gotic, Barcelona: Street Musicians Paradise?

Barri Gotic, Barcelona: Street Musicians Paradise?
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There is a story behind every anonymous artist performing in the narrow streets of Barri Gotic, the ideal place with all the ingredients to earn a decent sum to survive: solitude to perform, great acoustics, and lots of tourists with pockets full? of money. Many have a solid musical education and make the tour more pleasant, but according to local authorities some others don't. Recently, the Ajuntament (City Council) started a project to regulate their activities. Artists have been asigned 6 permanent spots in the Gothic Quarter where only Classical or Melodic music can be played. The rest of genres are to be performed out of this area on 13 other spots. No percussion, no noise over the decibel map in the district. No space exclusivity for any of the artists either. Law breakers can be fined and backsliders' instruments shall be confiscated. Each of the artists can play 4 hours a day divided in sessions of 2. These measures made neighbors happier and really have pissed musicians off!. Especially when you see illegal performers sneaking away from the police in the light of day in spite of cameras like the one in the picture. By this I don't mean anything against this man working perhaps according to regulations, I really enjoyed his performance anyway!
Today it is theme day in the City Daily Photo group: "Men at Work" so check people all over the world trying to make a living their own way.

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