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Tuesday, September 30
Bike Rack on Las Ramblas de Barcelona
About time I captured one of those images of mutilated bikes tied up somewhere for no apparent reason. Now that I finally made it (hooray!) I will try to forget it right away. Let's issue a formal complaint first: please, stop urinating on Las Ramblas! It smells and what's worse, it spoils my pictures. Yes, that blurry thing behind the bicycle fossil is nothing but a conspicuous stain left by humanoids on a booze spree. "Hey dude, enough moaning. Step out of the way. Can't you see that's my bike! And stop takin' pictures of my rack or I will get very pissed off".
The Barcelonians: Man Leaning on Wall, La Merce Church, Barcelona
This is my new addition to a set I will call The Barcelonians. Not that I am trying to emulate The Americans by Robert Frank , oh no (ironic). No, seriously, I love the idea of grouping people from all countries, statuses, genders, or age that are considered to be Barcelonians. Understand by that, anyone living in the city no matter what creed, race, nationality or money in the bank. I don't want to get too ambitious nor dare I imitate the masters (God forgive me). Ok let's cut the crap. Here is a man coming out of La Merce church, leaning on the wall as he walks, due to some leg impairment. That's it.
Standing the battering of time this lion at the base of Christopher Columbus's monument in Las Ramblas, permanently guards the majestic column from where his master watches the horizon pointing towards the new world not too sharply. Gaietà Buigas i Monravà was the artist in charge of building the monument that was completed in time for Barcelona's Universal Exhibition in 1888. In coming posts I will show you more details of the column. These are old pìctures of mine: Columbus on his pedestal and Columbus as seen from Las Ramblas.
Frozen in time. Do you remember the Matrix? You know, the bullet scene and all. I wish I could change the perspective here and show you the street dancer from different angles. If you like street dancing, hip hop, want to see a freeze or are just curious about the image, please visit previous post: Urban Street Dance in Barcelona.
Hot Suissos at La Granja Pallaresa, Carrer Petritxol, Barri Gotic
As I promised the other day in my Churros post, this is a detail of La Granja Pallaresa at Carrer Petritxol in Barri Gotic. One of the best places in the city to have a wonderful hot suisso, that is, chocolate with whipped cream on top. You may try churros, porras or melindros with a swisso. Leave your diet at home if you have in mind to visit La Pallaresa. Please check these recipes of menjar blanc (almond cream)and crema catalana (Catalan custard) which I noticed on the shelves after examining the picture closely. By the way, Granja Dulcinea on the same street is also great. In case you wonder what a granja is you should know that it means "farm" from "dairy farm" (originally granjas were shops selling dairy products).
During a medieval craft trade fair that was organized in a town called Suria I caught this artisan working the glass to create miniatures by means of a torch. It is hard for me to understand how medieval this craft can be considering the safety glasses he is wearing and the lighter but if they created this fair which is celebrated every year by the way, they should know better. Other trades and crafts were previously posted here: the stonecutter, the basket weaver, the collier, the potter.
Immigration is one of Barcelona's major concerns according to polls. Many times this concern grows parallel to the feeling of insecurity that is increasing lately. This leads to consciously or unconsciously blame immigrants who are an easy pray to racists or bigmouths of all sorts and social statuses. I wonder what such people would think if they were in their shoes.
Woman and Child Detail, Folk Song Sculpture, Palau, Barcelona
Woman and child, a detail of Miquel Blay sculptoric group on one of the corners of Palau de la Musica Catalana, the art nouveau concert hall. The group is dominated by the figure of Sant Jordi, patron of Catalonia holding a senyera (our flag) and a sword. In the very center there is a young lady singing and surrounded by common people, workers, men, women and children. The title of the sculpture is Cançó Popular (Folk Song), a lyric representation of Catalan popular and cultural tradition.
I was trying to think of a better title for today's post. We were standing on Plaza del Rey waiting for the steps to empty and sit for a group photo during Europe Photobloggers Meetup 2008. A man, obviously her partner, was taking pictures. We were camera in hand, more than 30 considering how many we were and some of us started shooting over the man's shoulder. To keep her identity unknown I decided to include this one with her head turned up. So I reckon all the attention deviates to her beautiful dress and legs. I have to say that this subject made me recall some interesting comments under another photo including legs at Chromasia. We were having an argument on whether a picture of just women's legs is somewhat degrading. Of course I haven't changed my mind. Legs are just legs and if beautiful they are to be admired.
Half-bred uncanny creatures, stalking from above and ominously spitting rivers of water as if announcing the downfall of man and the arrival of an ignote, unfathomed gloomy world. Sunday morning on your way to church. A long, long time ago. You have a sudden urge to pray. Things are not going too well lately. Mysterious deaths scamper through the city. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people are doomed by now and nobody knows why. Is it God's wrath? Is it one of the seven plagues? Some say it comes in the air or that it dwells in the pestilent waters of the outskirts. Almighty God! What is that! A filthy rat!. Get out of my way, you abominable evil creature. I wonder why there are so many. Stop looking at me, you hideous gargoyles...In 1589 1/4 of the population in Barcelona, 12.000 to 13.000 approximately, succumbed to bubonic plague (via this article in Spanish). Here is a 3D Google SketchUp of Plaça del Rei.
Decorative arts, architecture and other forms of artistic expression lived an authentic ecclosion by the end of XIX and the first years of XX c. in Catalonia as part of a cultural and political movement known as Renaixença which was spurred by the new spirit of the wealthy local bourgeoisie and their quest for industrial expansion, the influence of Paris and other industrialized European countries as the new model to follow in opposition to the retrograde, stale Castilian yoke. The cultural side of this renaissance, this art nouveau and the way it manifested in Catalonia is called Modernisme. A lamp was just a lamp but all of sudden there was an urge for innovation and new trends, an outburst of creativity that said hey this is our art, it is Catalan, we borrowed some elements from the most modern and fashion countries in Europe and Asia, we improved it and lifted it to the category of divine, we are educated, passionate for art, powerful and basically we don't need your Royal Majesties anymore, in fact we never did. Of course this is history in a very personal and simplified way. Here is another modernist lamp.
A now for something completely different: Churros. I have been browsing in search for good recipes or the history of churros. Well, you've got Wikipedia's definition of churros for that and even some elegant recipes like these Californian churros desserts which I found exotic and appealing. No, I just wanted to show you this picture to evoke those good memories every citizen in Spain has involving churros or porras which is a bigger, thicker variety made in Madrid. The experience of waking up early to go and buy churros for a good weekend breakfast is unforgettable. There used to be street stalls or caravans in the neighborhood where they cooked homemade churros which you could smell some blocks away. In fact they still exist but they are fewer than in the good old times. And what about those who on their way to bed after a long crazy night grab a bag full of churros to soak them in hot chocolate. Needless to say that there are small traditional places called granjas selling good churros in Barcelona. The best according to many is on carrer Petritxol, near Plaza del Pi in Barri Gotic and is called La Pallaresa. Tomorrow I will show you a detail of the entrance.
Savings Allegory Sculpture, Caixa de Pensions Building, Via Laietana, Barcelona
On April 1st of the year 1917 Caixa de Pensions i d’Estalvis de Barcelona building at Via Laietana, 56-58 was completed by famous Catalan architect and artist Enric Sagnier. Nowadays it is one of the venues of the Supreme Court of Catalonia. On one of the corners you will appreciate this sculptoric group which is an allegory to savings. Remember La Caixa is an important savings bank in Spain. The sculpture was made by Manuel Fuxà. Perhaps you want to see the whole facade of this neomedieval building in Via Laietana or want to investigate further on La Caixa and its founder.
Love is a topic I don't deal much in my posting because I think adding too much sweet may be noxious. Now that I slipped, I am going to suggest this photo essay called Famous Couples, a gallery with some of the twentieth's century great romances. Of course we would not have chosen many of those but there is one that helped me make up my mind about selecting the link: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Walking along Portal de L'Angel some members of Barcelona Photobloggers found a group of street dancers. We were pretty tired after a long day's photo walk but still gathered some strength to take some snaps. Here is a profile portrait I could catch of one of the hip hop dancers. He was crouching, arms resting on his knees as the rest of the members improvised. Soon his turn would come. Tomorrow I will show you what he was looking at.
Routine is something that I really hate. Posting always the same kind of topic is really boring not only for you but for me as a blogger. Let's leave art aside for a while and refresh ourselves with an innocent image, that of a baby girl photographed from a different angle. Some friends came by and left the girl toddling on the wooden floor. I noticed she was wearing this tiny hair clip that barely succeeded in its task but clearly gave her the feminine touch.
La Merce or Our Lady of Mercy in Barcelona: A Brief History
What better to commemorate the festivities of Our Lady of Mercy or Mare de Déu de la Mercè or Virgen de la Merced than showing the Virgin itself. This is the way she appears on top of the church that goes by the same name. As you know every September 24th Barcelona honors La Merce with numerous activities all over the city. As you see my post is not up-to-date so I will tiptoe over the topic. I just wanted to say that La Mercè is of course one of the many ways to refer to the Virgin Mary. According to religious scriptures she appeared to Pedro Nolasco in the form of Our Lady of Mercy and commanded him to found the Mercedarian Order. She carried two bags of coins to pay the ransom of Christians caught by the Moors. That's why she is also known as the Lady of Ransom. The order was officially constituted by King James of Aragon in Barcelona on August 10, 1218 and approved by Pope Gregory IX on 17 January 1325. Although the Virgin manifested on August 1st, the date was later changed (1696) to September 24th. Find the church of Mare de Deu de la Merce on my Flickr map.
This is a detail of the rose window at Santa Maria del Pi, a 14th-century Catalan Gothic church in Barri Gotic quarter, Barcelona. It is near Las Ramblas and La Boqueria market on Sant Josep Oriol square. Do you want to stand on the square and take a 360º look? check the Santa Maria del Pi virtual tour. You will notice that today's picture is perhaps more dramatic than the original. Find the church on a Flickr map.
Musicians like Barri Gotic to perform. Narrow streets there, are pleasant to stay in the shade away from nearby noisy streets. Besides acoustics is great. Many times there are small groups playing on the same site as they are supposed to play on spots assigned by local authorities. So you probably meet the very same artist depending on what time of the day or the week you visit a determined street. This man here was about to start and was having a little chat. There was this sun ray falling directly on his head acting as a natural spotlight. If you want to know more or check a full view of the street don't miss: Barri Gotic: Street Musicians Paradise?
We accept not without remorse and anguish the presence of assorted souvenirs that are made to content visitors who are curious about Spain, its culture and its many regions. We accept with resignation folklore and stereotyped patrons which are not necessarily linked to this part of the country but what we can't definitely understand is what the heck do Mexican hats have to do with us. With all due respect to Mexican culture which is rich, colorful and beautiful, I wonder why we sell tourists tokens that are alien to our traditions and what is worse mislead tourists that think we sleep siestas leaned on a porch hidden under the brim of our enormous hats.
Most important cities in the world have markets which they are more or less proud of, not because we as inhabitants are going to earn profit from selling products but due to the fact that major markets are a representation of traditions and cultural legacy handed down from past generations. What I mean is that we as a community are proud of El Mercat de la Boqueria or Mercat de Sant Antoni or Mercat del Ninot, because part of our history is present in those premises, in the architecture, in the products sold, in the way they are displayed, in the way things are cooked or the advice they give us to prepare a nice dinner the way our grandparents did, in the daily thriving of so many families that have been in this trade for ages. This is what we are and how we are and is good to see that visitors like it and get to know Barcelona by one of the most ancestral means, by the food. Check this youtube video of La Boqueria Market by denniscallan.
Europe Photobloggers Meetup 2008 in Barcelona: Macba
During Europe Photobloggers Meetup 2008 we visited several interesting spots in Barcelona city such as the Macba museum (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona) in El Raval quarter. The square in front of the art center is normally frequented by skateboarders but we spotted none in the area that morning so we stood there for a while taking pictures of one another. Fortunately our long photo walk split into two days and brought forth many good shots. No need to say that the meetup was a success. Once more Europe photo bloggers got together to share experiences and enjoy the pleasure of taking photographs.
Crossing Via Laietana street and headings towards La Ribera quarter there was this old man wearing a sort of handkerchief or improvised turbant. I don't think it was for religious beliefs. Anyway, I thought he looked tired and absentminded and that there was a wretched story behind his stooping figure. He was trapped in his own thoughts.
Curly Endives or Chicory Detail at Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain
Resuming my previous post a couple of days ago about La Boqueria market at Las Ramblas, I wanted to share some green with you. Salads are not my favorite. I am more of a carnivore, meat lover, red fan. Nevertheless I reckon the other half of the world goes crazy about chewing up leaves, gnawing on stems and grazing in one way or another which is totally respectable. Here is a detail of a curly endive or chicory that we call escarola. This might lead to confusion cause escarole in English is a plant with broader leaves. Escarola is a rather common green salad in Catalonia, some people love it. I don't. It tastes bitter and is beyond my crunching noise limit. Anyway, the serrated leaves are beautiful and carry lots of healthy minerals, or so they say. I have accentuated the colors using lab color effect. I digress. I hope vegans and vegetarians don't take me too seriously today. I recommend this site (Notes from Debbie's Kitchen) with lots of veggie recipes classified by key ingredients and clearly illustrated with pictures. And I forgot to say that La Boqueria market is just the right place to quench your green thirst.
This is a tribute to the legendary figure of Marylin Monroe and Marylin Monroe's Lips by Andy Warhol. I took this picture in a shop somewhere in Barri Gotic. Both Norma Jean and the mannequin seem to be having some conversation. Now that I brought the topic to light maybe you want to remember some famous quotes by Marylin.
There are several markets in Barcelona but La Boqueria or Mercat de Sant Josep in Las Ramblas is one of the most renown for historical reasons and why not, due to its location. The place gathers locals and tourists alike and making your way through the narrow corridors is an adventure. Not that you can find whatever you want here but there's the usual belief that if they don't have it you won't find it elsewhere. Besides the fruit stalls which are a must-see, the seafood section is also worth visiting. Today I show you a detail of some herrings which caught my attention. I think they are smoked, but I can't tell a smoked herring from a salted one. In fact I can't tell a sardine from a herring and definitely herring is not part of our daily diet. I suppose many of you do eat herring frequently so why not checking this suggestive site with plenty of herring recipes.
Among dozens of human statues in Las Ramblas de Barcelona you may now and then find other "minor", less sophisticated and striking ways of artistry equally respectable and venerable as is the case of the Clown. See this artist in context using my geotagged Barcelona photos set on Flickr.
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Carlos Lorenzo is a photographer from Barcelona, Spain. He publishes articles and pictures of Barcelona since February, 2006. He has a degree in English philology and currently works as data manager and database programmer in clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a social media enthusiast and you usually find him at http://www.barcelonaphotoblog.com