Sunday, November 30

Ladybird with Mistletoe, Christmas Present at Santa Llucia Market

Ladybird with Mistletoe, Christmas Present at Santa Llucia Market [enlarge]

This would be my humble postcard to wish a Merry Christmas to all my faithful visitors. I wish you all have a very nice month of December and a happy new year. I hope these ladybirds with mistletoe found at famous Santa Llucia market bring you all the luck this coming 2009.

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Saturday, November 29

Water Spouts, Portal del Angel, Barcelona

Water Spouts, Portal del Angel, Barcelona [enlarge]

Water spouts near Pignatelli Palace at Portal del Angel, Barcelona. On the tap, you can see the city coat of arms. There many in the city but these in particular I find extremely attractive. Check the place on my Google map. Here are two other previous posts showing spouts: Old Lady and Fountain and Boy Holding Frog.

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Friday, November 28

A Baby's Frown

A Baby's Frown [enlarge]

I still don't know why babies make faces so often, wearing a frown like elderly people. At least that's how we interpret such gesture in Spain. We call it La Viejita (old lady). How do you call it when kids frown and they have all these wrinkles on their faces? Here is a very funny video of what they can do, although in this case the frown is somehow different to the one I meant.

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Thursday, November 27

Palamos Anchovies, A Catalan Delicacy

Palamos Anchovies, A Catalan Delicacy [enlarge]

Palamós is a town on Costa Brava. It belongs to Girona, another Catalan province. Palamos is well known for its prawns but another delicacy that they are very proud of is their anchovies. Although presented in different ways, it is better to buy them bottled in brine. For me these are second best to L'Escala's famous anchovies also on the same coast. I found this wonderful article that explains every detail about this wonderful Catalan product: Anchovies from Spain. I hope this food article helps to grow an appetite. I have to say that the picture was taken in a local market in Barcelona.

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Wednesday, November 26

Anonymous Tree

Tree [enlarge]

A tree is just a tree so there is not much I can say this time. I could talk all about the things that happened under this tree but never mind. Under its shade we just had lunch last fall so, big deal. There's nothing like the slumbering feeling that a good shade provokes specially when the sun is coming through the leaves. Hmm I need a hammock.

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Tuesday, November 25

Jack Skellington's Visit to Las Ramblas, The Full Report

Jack Skellington [enlarge]

Jack Skellington from Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas was seen on Las Ramblas the other day trying to go incognito without success. Hordes of fans immediately spotted him, then came the press and photographers to cover the story. I was lucky to be there. After rejecting some important media by pulling his head off and throwing it at them he insisted on meeting locals. That was when I entered the scene. He confessed that he was bored of Halloween Town and had decided to share the Christmas spirit with us here in Barcelona. After that, I tried to contact Santa on many occasions to give him the big news but every attempt was in vain. I just picked up this message from the answering machine: "I am out for my December holidays please leave your message...". It's funny, I swear I could hear a stifled voice, something, like: shh,erg,grrm...tk...rrr...d...ol...ph...ins...td. I hope I transcribed it correctly. But then again, it was problably a bad connection.

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Monday, November 24

Kid Feeding Pigeons at Placa Catalunya, Barcelona

Kid Feeding Pigeons at Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona [enlarge]

While there's a happy kid on Earth, there will be hope. Nothing is more pure and sacred than a child's innocence. Nothing is more beautiful than a child's detached view of the world around him, free of all evil, ambition, prejudice and hate, wrong teachings and bad influence. The face of this kid reveals many things, things we once lived unknowingly, things we can have no more. We won't bring them back but we can work to guarantee that this happiness, the flame that moves this world, the joy of life forever lasts.

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Sunday, November 23

Waiting

Waiting [enlarge]

A girl waiting at Maremagnum shopping center in Barcelona. I just liked the expression on her face.

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Saturday, November 22

The Secret Power of Fire

Fire Detail [enlarge]

For centuries, man has contemplated this scene. Infinite winters have passed since the very first ancestor took a branch on fire after the storm and tried to grab the magic light with obvious result. They, we, learned to handle it, to fear it, to worship it. We handed it down from one generation to another as one of the most vital assets in the archives of our common knowledge. Now, we know or think we know everything about fire. And still, after a whole eternity, we look into the fire, take a deep breath and let our souls wander into an unknown universe of thoughts, hypnotized by the flames that cannot be touched but keep us warm, just like the very first day.

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Friday, November 21

Pa amb Tomaquet - Bread with Tomato

Pa amb Tomaquet - Bread with Tomato  [enlarge]

Nothing like a good toast spread with tomato and some olive oil to accompany any kind of food. We call it pa amb tomaquet. Instead of using a slice of tomato to make a sandwich or pouring and spreading some tomato sauce on the bread we cut tomatoes into halves and gently spread them against the toast. You can first rub the bread with garlic, then you apply the tomato and finally you add some olive oil. That will serve as the basis for many ingredients like anchovies, ham, sausage or grilled aubergines, red peppers and onions sliced in strips aka escalivada among other things.

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Thursday, November 20

Man and Dog on Alley, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Man and Dog on Alley, Barri Gotic, Barcelona [enlarge]

What's in an alley? They are just spaces surrounded by walls. I mean, if the buildings were not that close they would be plain ordinary streets. There's something in the atmosphere of an alley that is determined by its narrowness, an almost tangible sensation triggered by all kinds of stimuli. There's the bad smell of sewers, of damp walls, of mossy surfaces, the good smell of food or clean laundry coming from very close balconies. Your eyes are bombarded with rounds of large wooden doors and whimsical knockers, exuberant plants entangled in forest-like canopies, old lamps with elaborate ironwork, dark impossible staircases, eclectic windows with cat add-on included. And there's the sound, the sound of too friendly neighbors, their laughter, their cries, their TVs and door bells. The sound of the guys delivering butane gas shouting and clacking on the orange flask, the scissor and knife sharpener blowing his peculiar flute to make people come down. The noise of kids playing in the street like in the good old days. Such is the atmosphere of an alley, any Barcelona alley, like the one where this man is walking his dog.

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Wednesday, November 19

USSR and US Medals at an Antique Shop in Barcelona

USSR and US Medals at Antique Shop,Barcelona [enlarge]

These medals represent or evoke important events in the history of USSR or the US. This image is the continuation to previous post: Antique Shops: German War Medals, Collecting a Horrible Past. Wars cannot be justified in any way, the mere fact that they exist means something is and was always wrong with humankind. Violence generates violence and sometimes you are drawn to it to defend your family, your land. These collectibles carry the memory of those that sacrificed their lives on some occasions for a better world, for survival, for next generations. In some other instances, they died in vain and were manipulated by their governments.

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Tuesday, November 18

Antique Shops: German War Medals, Collecting a Horrible Past

German War Medals, Collecting a Horrible Past [enlarge]

I wasn't sure whether to publish this picture or not. Some things must be forgotten forever and this is a delicate topic that shouldn't be publicized in any way, purposely or by chance. Fortunately I have another image that clearly acts as a counterpart to this one. Well, both of the images contain medals, medals of war that were some day on some soldier's chest who was very proud to represent his country and was sent to war on many occasions without really comprehend the meaning or the goal of such war. But when we talk about the holocaust (some medals here are older) there is no possible forgiveness regarding those who were represented by some medals here cause no national policy or belief can justify genocide. Once said that I just wanted to contrast these antique articles in a small shop in Barcelona with some other medals displayed representing USSR or the US.

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Monday, November 17

Cagatio or Pooping Log, A Christmas Catalan Tradition

Cagatio or Pooping Log, A Christmas Tradition in Catalonia [enlarge]

Another ancestral tradition of the Catalan people consists in bringing children in front of this magic log called Cagatio (pooping log) so it "excretes" Christmas gifts. Yes, the wooden buddy is supposed to poop those hidden treasures that kids pick up from under a red blanket conveniently covering the figure. Before introducing their hands they are encouraged to repeatedly hit the log using a rod just in case, to warn the tió he'd better do as he's told. In the meantime, relatives or school friends, depending on the situation, sing this familiar song of which I will translate an excerpt. It is a folk song and popular lyrics tend to be rather "vulgar" so please overlook the many poops. First phrase is in Catalan and second in Spanish.

Caga tió -caga tió- poop tió,
ametlles i torró -almendras y turrón- almonds and nougat,
no caguis arangades -no cagues arenques- do not poop brined herring,
que són massa salades -que son demasiado salados- cause it's too salty,
caga torrons -caga turrones- do poop nougat,
que són més bons -que son más buenos- that is more tasty,
Caga tió -caga tió- poop tió,
ametlles i torró -almendras y turrón- almonds and nougat,
si no vols *** -si no quieres ***- if you refuse,
et donaré un cop de bastó -te daré un golpe de bastón- I'll hit you with this rod,
Caga tió! -caga tió- poop tió!

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Sunday, November 16

Barcelona Caganers: Rafa Nadal

Barcelona Caganers: Rafa Nadal [enlarge]

Among the many traditions of Catalonia, there is one which is rather peculiar: the Caganers. These small figures that originally represented a payés (peasant) making "number two", are part of Catalan nativity scenes. There was a moment in history in which not only the peasant was characterized in this prosaic posture (feces included) but also celebrities, local authorities, religious men, international renown personalities, presidents. This year's sensation was Obama. I showed Fidel Castro and Bush together in a previous post. I visited Santa Llucia Christmas market and chose this one for you, number one tennis player Rafa Nadal. I suppose it is always pleasing to show people as they really are, deprived of all the aura and power. I hope you don't feel offended and get to understand this deep rooted tradition of ours.

I would like to thank those who congratulated me for the Weekly-Pic-K Award at VFXY. I dedicate it to you.

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Saturday, November 15

Bad Weather, Bad Times

Portal de L'Angel, Woman Begging [enlarge]

On the most expensive street in Barcelona, Portal de l'Angel, comfort and poverty coexist. In the middle of this crisis beggars take the worse part, economy is going down the drain, consumers are not spending much and there's no money for charity. The weather seems to be rougher, the faces seem to be sadder. People wear last year's clothes, prefer to stay at home, talk less, worries about keeping the job and pray not to fall into disgrace. Yep, a very pessimistic panorama. Reality is tough and fairy tales sometimes don't have a happy ending. They say is going to last about two years. So we'll stick our heads beneath the sand and wait for the storm to pass. The barometer indicates low pressure apparently till further notice.

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Friday, November 14

Eucalyptus Wreath, Christmas' Coming

Eucalyptus flower [enlarge]

This is just a detail of an Eucalyptus wreath I caught during a recent visit to Santa Llucia Christmas market. Yes, I know, my posting is way behind schedule. I guess I will never be up-to-date. Taking pictures is so time consuming that I can't shoot and post daily and manage to keep some minimum quality. Well, I digress. As I said the market or Fira de Santa Llucia is already set and it is of course a must see in Barcelona. It is located in front of Barcelona Cathedral and I strongly recommend you visit it at night.

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Thursday, November 13

Door Knocker Detail

Door Knocker Detail [enlarge]

Here is one of the many silent witnesses of Barcelona's history, resisting the passing of time, worn out by the action of so many hands that are here no more, bitten by its feline companion for ages, casting its monotonous call: knock...knock...knock. There are many of these in the city. Here are some others I published in the past: Lion Head Door Knocker, Rusty Door Knocker, Vandalized Door Knocker and Knocker on Chocolate Color Door.

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Wednesday, November 12

Man on The Grass - Catalonia Square, Barcelona

Man on The Grass - Catalonia Square, Barcelona [enlarge]

The man was sitting on the grass drinking some beer before taking a nap. I would say he was homeless but I can't say that for sure, so my post is just about a man in Plaça Catalunya, in the very center of Barcelona, an anonymous character, one of the many solitary souls that wander in this square. Do you want to take a look at the place, take a look at the Google street view map below.


View Larger Map

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Tuesday, November 11

Thanksgiving Tea Light Candles

Thanksgiving Tea Light Candles [enlarge]

Tea lights are a kind of votive candle I really enjoy watching when I enter a church for pictures. As many of you know I am not a devoted person but I do like the art and solemnity of holy places. Now that Thanksgiving Day is near, I thought I should show you these lights to help you meditate, meditate on whatever cause you see fit, whatever cause or creed that brings peace to your soul or body. Happy Thanksgiving Day my friends. By the way, did you know that we don't have this holiday in Spain and that we don't have turkey either? In fact, we don't have anything. It is only celebrated with a mass at church. Of course, religious people might do something but it is rare.

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Monday, November 10

Carrer de Boltres, A Short and Narrow Street in Barcelona

Carrer de Boltres in Barcelona [enlarge]

This is Carrer de Boltres, a very short and narrow street in Barcelona, near Plaça de la Mercé. An elderly couple walks towards the church by the square. In the background, Passeig de Colom (Columbus' Walk). I happened to mention the place before, so here is the old post with a map of La Mercé church and square.

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Sunday, November 9

Barcelona Firemen Protest

Barcelona Firemen Protest [enlarge]

Firemen in Barcelona claim better wages and working conditions. This is a snap of two dummies hanging from a rope at the entrance of Provença street firemen headquarters. In fact the whole building is covered with big signs of protest. Barcelona firemen have rallied at least five times recently. One of their major concerns is that the corps is remunerated the same way Generalitat fire department is. I didn't know there were two fire corps but after these recent protests now the city is well aware of their revendications.

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Saturday, November 8

Dancers Holding Hands

Dancers Holding Hands [enlarge]

Catalan folk dancers holding hands during a performance at Monistrol de Montserrat. Rather than the whole body I thought the detail of the hands holding tight would make the scene more poetic. Although this image was taken in October this year, there are similar posts published in the past. Check them here: Dancers and Catalan Folk Dance Troupe

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Friday, November 7

A Baby's Comfort

A Baby's Comfort [enlarge]

Nothing like being young again and get literally carried away comfortably on your way to who knows where, no plans, no worries, no boss, no money, no lovers, just some dreaming and a little contemplation of the world just as it is, the world. I was listening to this song while I worked on this photo

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Thursday, November 6

Cupola, Via Laietana, Barcelona

Cupola, Via Laietana, Barcelona [enlarge]

After much thought and starting working on my color version I completely deviated from my original path. It turned out that the cupola, the one you can admire if you walk along Via Laietana in Barcelona, looked better in black and white, well almost as I finally gave it this bluish touch. The building in fact has two cupolas and occupies a whole block of this heavy traffic street. Very near you have Palau de la Musica. There are plans to build new hotels in this area to which neighbors openly oppose. I have embedded this Google street view map so you can see the building, the cupola on the other side and if you turn left, Palau de la Música, the famous modernist concert hall. Right next to you Casa dels Velers but that's part of another story (Remember you have to click on the map and drag to enjoy the pano or move along the white path by clicking on the arrows). Should you want to see it from above check link here.



View Larger Map

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Wednesday, November 5

Human Statue Lady at Las Ramblas de Barcelona

Human Statue Lady at Las Ramblas de Barcelona [enlarge]

This is yet another human statue at Las Ramblas. A beautiful, fragile, delicate, hieratic woman standing on this populated street of Barcelona. I was attracted by her face, her makeup and the light coming from nearby stores in the background. Don't forget to check the labels below if you want to see more living statues. And always enlarge for the big format picture.

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Tuesday, November 4

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves [enlarge]

First of all let me tell you that this image was taken by my 12-year-old daughter, Sara. The day we visited Vallgorgina and while my wife, some friends and I were having a chat after lunch, I left her the camera and she pointed towards the nearby trees. The leaves of this platanero (Hybrid plane or London plane tree) looked gorgeous under the afternoon sun but I confess I underestimated my daughter's eye. Beauty comes from within and you always get surprised at how different people can produce astonishing results at a given situation that you would regard as too obvious.

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Monday, November 3

The Hanging Gardens of Barcelona Balconies

Succulent plant hanging from a balcony in Barcelona [enlarge]

Not one of the seven wonders of the world but balconies with exuberant plants are not rare in Barcelona. This succulent specimen in particular is some sort of Graptopetalum or ghost plant according to my opinion. Maybe our botanic friends can help. What I was most interested in was the balcony anyway. The decay textures, the folded canopy, the historic architecture of the old part of town which I never get tired of admiring.

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Sunday, November 2

Fray Bernat de Boïl, Columbus Monument, Barcelona

Fray Bernat de Boïl, Columbus Monument, Barcelona [enlarge]

Here is a detail of one of the sculptoric groups at the base of the Columbus monument in Barcelona. The statue of Fray Bernat de Boïl preaching to an Indian kneeling before him by Manuel Fuxà.

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Saturday, November 1

Mediterranean Tomatoes

Ripe and green tomatoes [enlarge]

There is nothing better than a good ripe tomato recently harvested. That is a fact. Probably one of the best products to illustrate the difference between your own orchard and big markets is a tomato. I don't know what happens along the way but the one we buy at the corner shop or at the supermarket is definitely different from the ones you grow yourself or buy on location directly to the farmer. This is what happens with this ripe tomato I captured at Monistrol market. It was a product from a small personal crop. Fresh healthy tomatoes with all the good properties mother nature gave them are an essential part of world known Mediterranean diet. You just need some olive oil, some green salad, some fish or meat, some red wine accompanied by some exercise to live longer among other things like luck!

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