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  • Monday, June 30

    Ironwork on Balcony at La Pedrera or Casa Mila in Paseo de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain

    Ironwork on Balcony at La Pedrera or Casa Mila in Paseo de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    I am sure this building Casa Mila also known as La Pedrera rings a bell. Maybe you saw the picture somewhere, in a postcard or in some expensive art book. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have visited Barcelona in the past and you wouldn't say no to a second or a third chance to see it. Well, it is never like the real thing, absolutely not, but if you click on today's image of the ironwork on one of the front balconies you will enjoy a very, very close shot of the famous façade. Not that there are few images like mine, but certainly you will appreciate every detail of the floral motifs. For more information read Casa Mila and follow the rest of links in the post.

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    Sunday, June 29

    Art Nouveau Lamp at Casa Mila or La Pedrera

    Art Nouveau Lamp at Casa Milà or La Pedrera [enlarge]

    This impressive art nouveau lamp that reminds me of some ancient diver's helmet or the head of a dragonfly with a little more imagination, hangs from the ceiling in the hall of La Pedrera or Casa Mila, built by Gaudi between 1906 and 1910. Brothers Badia were the iron forgers so I assume they had to do with this lamp but so far I haven't been able to find out who designed such beauty. You can find a thumbnail of La Pedrera on my Google Map below.

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    Saturday, June 28

    African Drummer in Barcelona

    African Drummer in Barcelona [enlarge]

    Percussion from the very source, the origins, Africa. Distant drums pounding communicating each other in the vast savanna. This is a detail of an African drummer, in fact they were too. They played at my daughter's school as part of the celebrations to say goodbye to 6th grade students graduating this year. Next year secondary school. Good luck Sara.

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    Friday, June 27

    Guardia Civil Patrolling Barcelona Harbor

    Guardia Civil Patrolling Barcelona Harbor [enlarge]

    Some people have to do the dirty job so we all can enjoy the city in peace so a big thank to the boys. Not that they are very popular in Barcelona, but I guess the police has always and will always be criticized or laughed at cause we always see the wrongs and never give too much credit to their glorious acts or their silent work. Whether it's a madero, a flic, a cop or a bobby let them be.

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    Thursday, June 26

    Afternoon Barcelona Tourist Bus Near Maremagnum

    Afternoon Barcelona Tourist Bus Near Maremagnum [enlarge]

    This is just a glimpse of the well known double decker tourist buses of Barcelona. More than a picture of the bus as such I wanted to convey the feeling of riding along Maremagnum by the sea watching Barcelona skyline in the afternoon.

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    Wednesday, June 25

    Candied Fruit Pastry or Coca de Sant Joan

    Candied Fruit Pastry or Coca de Sant Joan [enlarge]

    This is what is known as coca de Sant Joan, a traditional light sweetbread covered with candied fruit. As the name suggests, it is a kind of pastry to be consumed during Saint John celebrations when it is sold in huge amounts and as you can guess there are the cheap and the expensive ones. They can be tasty and spongy or an authentic hard rock. The cheapest you buy at the supermarket but if you want the best stuff then you'd better go to your favorite pastry shop. Besides the candied fruit "coca", there are other kinds, like coca de crema (cream filled pastry - this is the one I like the most), coca de llardons (suet pastry)...to have a better idea learn about cocas de San Juan via Wikipedia. Maybe you prefer the recipe: Candied Fruit and Pinenuts Cocas.

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    Tuesday, June 24

    Sant Joan Firecrackers: Launching Gadget Closeup

    Sant Joan Firecrackers: Launching Gadget Closeup [enlarge]

    The word petardo in Spanish or petard in Catalan has different meanings: banger, firecracker, that is, a small explosive device. Not only that, it can be someone or something that's boring. Sometimes it can be a fraud but the most curious entries are "a hag, an old hag" what we know as a petarda and a joint, you know, the smoking kind. My intention today was to show not only firecrackers but the gadgets some people use to launch the artifacts. Many are completely handmade and others can be bought in stores. By the way, firecrackers are sold at special stalls which are regulated by city authorities. Normally they are located in the middle of a square with some fences all around and only two clients can be in front of the counter at the same time. Apart from that, you can also find specialized shops and major dealers for professional purposes.

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    Monday, June 23

    Sant Joan's Eve Firecrackers

    Sant Joan's Eve Firecrackers [enlarge]

    Bonfires of Saint John (Fogueres de Sant Joan in Catalan) aka Nit de Sant Joan or Revetlle de Sant Joan on June 23rd is time for firecrackers (petardos), cocas (a sort of pastry) and cava which is in other words the Catalan version of champaign. If you follow the above link you will find out that this event intended to welcome the arrival of summer is not exclusively ours although we celebrate it perhaps more intensely than in other places. It must be said that bonfires are not as popular now as in the past when people used to take old furniture into the middle of the street to watch it burn and party all around. Now you have to go to the beach where the city council still allows bonfires and massive celebrations. The mess is so big that special brigades of garbage collectors have to be organized to clean up the sand from all sorts of bottles, shoes, and assorted crap. Most of us avoid these mega parties and gather with family and friends to eat and drink till late in the evening. All night long before and after supper we find some place in the garden or go to the nearest square to ignite firecrackers. In spite of all this you can hear firecrackers big and small, during the whole month of June. The one in the picture was a turning wheel not particularly dangerous. Some others are scaring just like the sort of big tube a friend of us tied up to a pole. The artifact got twisted upon burning and sent "shrapnel" against the big bucket where we had the beers on ice, piercing through it and leaving a big hole that emptied the whole thing in seconds.

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    Sunday, June 22

    Polinesian Ship Attraction in Port Aventura, Tarragona, Spain

    Polinesian Ship Attraction in Port Aventura, Tarragona, Spain [enlarge]

    And here's another attraction at Port Aventura amusement park in Tarragona. The ship is located in the Polinesia area. I am not very fond of this one. I get sick with the ups and downs. This time I stood in the shade and calmly composed my picture. Don't forget to click on the image for a better view!

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    Saturday, June 21

    Pear Tree Flowers

    Pear Tree Flowers [enlarge]

    Just some pear tree flowers I happened to shoot at the beginning of spring, if there ever was spring this year. Summer is already here, hot weather and all. Not that we had too many sunny days in the past two months.

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    Friday, June 20

    Bacon but not Francis

    Bacon but not Francis [enlarge]

    To continue in my quest for a surprising topic that kills monotony a little bit I'd like to add another picture about Spanish food. I know many of you prefer to get in touch with local stuff be it culture, architecture, traditions or food rather than contemplating my last abstraction or the picture I took of my reflection in the mirror, you know. I hope you don't get too disappointed because I don't show Barcelona streets lately. It's just that I prefer being eclectic. Besides, the ugliest of things like bacon in this case may be interesting if you try to work out the best way to make it look attractive. In other words, you can have fun with you camera with the most obvious things. There was a previous post I recommend you visit too: Bacon: A Still Life Portrait and perhaps you'd like to check a curious site called I Heart Bacon.

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    Thursday, June 19

    Sausage Spread or Sobrasada

     [enlarge]

    Sobrasada (Sausage Spread) is in the group of sausages made with pork. It is prepared with minced meat and lard. The great amount of Spanish paprika or "pimentón" gives it the characteristic color and the peculiar flavor. Sobrasada is a Majorcan speciality. Although you can buy it all over Spain, the authentic, the one that really makes a difference, is from Majorca in the Balearic Islands.

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    Wednesday, June 18

    Spanish Food: Aged Manchego Cheese

    Spanish Food: Aged Manchego Cheese [enlarge]

    Named after La Mancha which is the Spanish region of famous Don Quixote, these aged Manchego cheese are made of sheep milk. They say the aroma reminds of lanolin and roast lamb. It has a slightly briny, nutty flavor and at the age of 13 weeks it is considered cured (curado). Over that period it is referred to as aged (viejo). There are other well known kinds of Spanish cheese: Cabrales, Idiazabal, Zamorano, Tetilla, Liebana, Roncal...In Catalonia we have Mató de Montserrat which is a fresh cheese (formatge fresc). From the Balearic Islands, specifically from Menorca, we have Mahon cheese which is one of my favorites. A couple of links today: The Encyclopedia of Cheese and some Spanish recipes with cheese.

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    Tuesday, June 17

    Barcelona Street Market Dolls

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    Some funny dolls I found interesting for a picture. I guess they are pencil caps made with rudimentary materials. I captured them on a street market in Barcelona.

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    Monday, June 16

    Pa de Payés: Traditional Peasant's Bread in Catalonia

    Pa de Payés: Traditional Peasant's Bread in Catalonia [enlarge]

    When you visit Barcelona or other cities and towns in Catalonia you will surely taste this bread known as pa de payés or pan de pueblo (peasant or people's bread). Don't be scared you don't have to hold it and take a bite, just eat it in slices. At the baker's they'll cut it up for you. Maybe you have seen similar bread before since many Mediterranean products are already familiar to you in your country. What I am sure some of you are not aware of is what we do with the slices of payés bread . But let's talk about this traditional Catalan product first. Pa de payés is a thick crusted bread with abundant crumb, higher carbohydrate content and less fat than a normal loaf. The thick crust is obtained thanks to a long kneading and fermentation time and a slow baking process. Due to its characteristics it is classified as a rustic kind of bread and as you already must have guessed by the name, people working in the fields were and still are the main consumers. As to the possible ways to serve the slices, there are lots of them. You can have them as such, although they are better in toasts, normally the ones popped into a barbecue grill taste better. Once you've got the toasts, you preferably spread tomato on top. How?, you cut the tomato into halves and rub it against the toast. Normally, you are given some garlic, olive oil and tomatoes together with the toasts so you wonder what about the garlic? Garlic is just an option although it is used on many occasions. If you have a knack for garlic then it is important that you cut one clove in two and rub it against the bread toast before spreading tomato, otherwise it is almost impossible to rub. Voila, you are almost there. Now you take the olive oil recipient, pour some on top of the slice of bread and finally add some salt. This part, which is the basis to prepare dozens of different kinds of pa de payés toasts, is called pantumaca or pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato pulp). The toast or the slice can then be dressed up with cured ham, anchovies, omelet, sausages, red peppers and aubergines in strips, all sorts of cheese...The ideal situation is to have extra virgin olive oil and not the one you get in the supermarket and to use real juicy and ripe tomatoes recently cropped.

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    Sunday, June 15

    Wooden Donkey at Torrelles de Llobregat Market near Barcelona

    Wooden Donkey at Torrelles de Llobregat Market near Barcelona [enlarge]

    Talking about curious products in a market here's this wooden donkey I photographed in Torrelles de Llobregat, a small town near Barcelona city, the other day.

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    Saturday, June 14

    Pickled Green Tomatoes in Barcelona

     [enlarge]

    These pickled green tomatoes caught my attention at a street market. The bowl I found among other kinds of pickle products like olives or onions. It is not very common here to see green tomatoes prepared that way, at least not for us in Barcelona city. I was standing there preadjusting my camera settings and I had the opportunity to listen to some customers talking to the man in the stall. "Are these olives?" - they asked with surprise. "No, those are green tomatoes from Valencia" - said the stall man. It's a rather ridiculous story but I found the comparison between olives and green tomatoes rather ackward. Here is a green tomato pickle recipe.

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    Friday, June 13

    Lantana Closeup in Barcelona

    Lantana Closeup in Barcelona [enlarge]

    This is a lantana I came across in some Barcelona garden. It has been a very rainy season in the city in spite of the water crisis of past months so flowers look healthier than ever and make good photographs. Check an older picture of Lantanas. Have a nice weekend everyone!

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    Thursday, June 12

    Espadrilles: Spanish Alpargatas or Catalan Espardenyes

    Espadrilles: Spanish Alpargatas or Catalan Espardenyes [enlarge]

    es·pa·drille (sp-drl) n. A shoe usually having a fabric upper part and a sole made of a flexible material, such as rope or rubber. The term espadrille is French and derives from espardenya, which derives from espart, the Catalan name for esparto [from Latin spartum] , a tough, wiry Mediterranean grass used in making rope. Espadrilles have been made in Catalonia since the 14th century at least.

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    Wednesday, June 11

    Street Market: Colorful Ribbons or Bracelets With Girl Names

    Street Market: Colorful Ribbons or Bracelets With Girl Names [enlarge]

    Something I like about street markets in Barcelona and the rest of the country is that many times when you don't like what you see you can always go and refresh your eyes with the explosion of colors of South American stands. I mean, there is always a Bolivian or Peruvian stall where you don't know exactly what's on sale but you can't help staring with curiosity. Something is telling you that you want to buy. Not because of the pottery, the Che Guevara or Bob Marley T-shirts and the familiar leaf silhouette, not because of these personalized ribbons or bracelets with girl names but because of the whole impression, the warm colors, the Latin flashy hues that make the stand look more appealing than the rest. For me, much better than a 50 percent off sign.

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    Tuesday, June 10

    Rusty Door Knocker in Torrelles de Llobregat , Barcelona, Spain

    Rusty Door Knocker in Torrelles de Llobregat , Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    This beautiful rusty door knocker I captured at Torrelles de Llobregat near Barcelona although it could have been in Barcelona city perfectly as here we have many. The knocker represents some kind of mythological being perhaps. What do you make of it? I think I kind of like old door knockers and maybe I collect them in the future, the images of course. I remember a couple of posts in Barcelona Photoblog that you should check too: Vandalized Door Knocker or Modern Art? and Knocker on Chocolate Color Door at El Raval Quarter, Barcelona. Or maybe you prefer a list of famous door knockers.

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    Monday, June 9

    Bobbin Lace or Encaje de Bolillos, Torrelles de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain

    Bobbin Lace or Encaje de Bolillos, Torrelles de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    This is a picture I took in Torrelles de Llobregat. You can see here in detail how bobbin lace, known in Spanish as encaje de bolillos, is made. First you need a pattern or parchment where holes are pricked to mark the place for all the pins. The parchment is always laid on a pillow or cushion. The lace is worked with each hand holding at least a pair of bobbins, the wooden elongated spools or shuttles hanging from the threads, which are moved from side to side to form a twist, a braid, or a clothlike fabric called toile. The motifs are worked in a more dense stitch, and the ground is made with a looser stitch. Bobbin lace originated in Flanders in the early 16th century although some say it came from Italy. From Flanders it extended to the rest of Europe. It was used for ruffs and collars back then. In Spain it was customary to teach girls how to work bobbin lace at school and at home as it was consider an essential part of a woman's education. I found this video about bobbin lace. It is short and not too illustrative as to Spanish traditions but it has a brief explanation in English that might help.

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    Sunday, June 8

    Maracatu Percussion Band, Festa de la Cirera, Torrella de Llobregat, Barcelona

    Maracatu Percussion Band, Festa de la Cirera, Torrella de Llobregat, Barcelona [enlarge]

    Percussion band Maracatú minutes before they started marching around the streets of Torrella de Llobregat as part of the activities in the Festa de la Cirera (cherry market). Tomorrow I will show you a picture about bobbin lace in the same town.

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    Saturday, June 7

    Cherry Festival (Festa de la Cirera), Torrella de Llobregat, Barcelona

    Cherry Festival (Festa de la Cirera), Torrella de Llobregat, Barcelona [enlarge]

    With these cherries I would like to introduce you to the Festa de la Cirera (cherry festival and market) celebrated in Torrella de Llobregat this weekend. This small town from Xth c. is only some kilometers away from Barcelona city. In fact Torrella or Torroella is a municipality in the Baix Llobregat comarque on the right bank of Llobregat river (one of the two rivers surrounding Barcelona). I have some more pictures which I'll show you in coming posts. Check Torrella on Google maps.

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    Friday, June 6

    Gerbera Daisy Close-up

    Gerbera Daisy Close-up in Barcelona garden [enlarge]

    This is what was left of a gerbera daisy or at least that's how I figure it is called. Some time ago I posted a similar picture and I was kindly given the right name. I think it was Heather who did it. Thanks again. If I am in a mistake today blame me! Of course my posts are not about taxonomy but beauty, my concept of beauty. Sometimes I am lucky to match yours and more than often I fail. That's the wonderful thing. The world would be very boring otherwise.

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    Thursday, June 5

    Barcelona Trees: Horse Chestnut or Conker Flowers

    Barcelona Trees: Horse Chestnut or Conker Flowers  [enlarge]

    Aesculus hippocastanum or common horse chestnut can be seen in some parks of Barcelona so I thought you might like the image of its flowers. These I shot in Bellaterra in early spring. I suppose it must have yielded the characteristic spiny conkers by now. From the seeds of this tree a substance called saponin aescin is extracted and used for health purposes like treating varicose veins, edema, sprains. This constituent strengthens the blood vessels and prevents thrombosis. It has haemolytic properties and is recommended as an astringent and circulatory tonic. The extracts from horse chestnut are used to treat cellulitis. So you see, the beautiful tree and its flowers are not just an adornment. Talking about adornment. Did you know that the leaves of horse chestnut trees are a common pattern in art nouveau architecture? Well, follow this fantastic link and you'll find out more about the use of nature in the Art Nouveau decoration.

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    Wednesday, June 4

    Centric Point Hostel: Passeig de Gracia 33, Barcelona, Spain

    Centric Point Hostel: Passeig de Gracia 33, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

    Not too long ago, I uploaded three pictures about hotels in Barcelona. I suggested they could be right although it was not an affirmation. After some thought I reckon that talking only about hotels wouldn't be fair with the hostel business or better yet with young people who want to enjoy Barcelona on a low budget. I have to confess here that whenever I think of hostels many dark, shabby places come to my mind. Every city has scary hotels, motels or hostels. But you know cliches are not to be taken too seriously. The other day, I noticed a group of young boys and girls were having a chat on the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Consell de Cent. They had come out of a building with a big sign on the door that read: Centric Point Hostel. In fact this is nothing that calls your attention for more than two seconds. They were all blond, dressing casual and showing off that unmistakable white skin that's bound to be sunburnt the following day or is already as red as a boiling lobster's shell. They didn't look like the average backpacker though, and they seemed to be pretty happy talking there. All of that made me muse a little: "Hey, this hostel in the middle of Passeig de Gracia looks like a hotel!". On one of the balconies with some towels drying up in the sun (something unthinkable in this part of the city) I saw a girl leaning and looking towards the modernist buildings nearby and I realized how privileged she was of having such great view of the most frequented and elegant street of Barcelona. The cherry on top was that the building is modernist too and has been recently restored. I am sure there are lousy places to stay in Barcelona but this one is definitely not, you would say it's a like 3 star hotel!. So I decided to share a hostel post with you today starting with a good one, of course you definitely have to check other sources too. Here is a list of places near Centric Point Hostel: Las Ramblas (5 minutes walking), Catalunya square (3 minutes walking)and many art nouveau (Catalan modernisme) houses such as Gaudi's Casa Batlló (50 metres), Casa Amatller (being restored right now - 45 metres), Gaudi's Casa Milá also known as La Pedrera (5 minutes walking) or Casa Lleo Morera (5 metres). I forgot to say that along Passeig de Gracia you have the best shops in town no wonder it is one of the most expensive streets in Barcelona and Spain but you don't need to worry about too much as it is always easy to find cheaper places to shop around in the area. I also go downtown everyday and never buy an armani you know. Maybe you want me to recommend some other hostels so you can compare: Hostels and a map of hostels. Have a nice, cheap and comfortable stay in Barcelona!

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    Tuesday, June 3

    National Theater of Catalonia

    National Theater of Catalonia [enlarge]

    This is the National Theater of Catalonia at Plaça del Arts and the Agbar Tower by Jean Nouvel in the background.

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    Monday, June 2

    A Day at the Races

    A Day at the Races [enlarge]

    If you've visited a local fair maybe you are familiar with the usual horse race to fight for a wonderful teddy bear. We went to Port Aventura and I prayed for my daughter not to win the first price. She had never played before so the odds were little. Bulls***, she won an enormous banana, taller than me and we had to hold it all along the park so imagine how funny it should be.

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    Sunday, June 1

    Inside the Bubble, Bubblebou Show by Pep Bou

    Bubblebou - The Bubble Show by Pep Bou company [enlarge]

    Another picture of the Bubblebou show created by Pep Bou. This time the artist was inside the bubble blowing out to make the surface transform adopting funny shapes. The place, Port Aventura, the amusement park on the coast of Tarragona, one of the Catalan provinces near Barcelona.

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