Thursday, January 28

Montjuic Cable Car /Teleferic de Montjuic - Take the Barcelona Experience to the Limit

Montjuic Cable Car /Teleferic de Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

The Montjuic cable car known in Catalan as Telefèric de Montjuïc, is the perfect spot to take the Barcelona experience to the limit. Not in the middle of the winter of course, although now they are protected against inclement weather, but in the spring as shown in this picture. Knowing you need a glimpse of sunny Barcelona sometimes to better digest your dull skies I decided to drop this image into my streamline now that no one is looking. If you happen to see that lady over there during your visit ask her to please step out of the picture next time. You ought to know it is not the first time a cable car appears here so I will skip technicalities except for a wonderful video for you to get an idea of what the ride on the cable car is like: Barcelona Teleferic

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Tuesday, January 26

The Cascade Fountain, A Jewel of Catalan Art by Josep Fontser

The Cascade Fountain by Josep Fontser, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona[enlarge]

It is an authentic luxury to walk in Parc de la Ciutadella, contemplating the old pavilions, the museums, the statues, the zoo, the lake or the greenhouse. It is a privilege not only for art enthusiasts but to any citizen who enters this magical place, to have such treasures within their reach. We tend to ignore the obvious though. I think we learn to better appreciate our artistic patrimony when we visit one of those monotonous industrialized cities built on glass and steel where art is just a ridicule pastiche in the nearest mall and we remember what we left at home. Of course Barcelona does not have exclusive rights to consider itself as the mecca of art but we do have a thing or two to congratulate upon. Besides the obvious landmarks in the city, and if I had to vote, this fountain, the Cascade by Josep Fontser, would be in my top ten. On previous posts we saw a detail of Aurora's Chariot and of one of the fountain Griffins.

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Sunday, January 24

Art Nouveau Flower Motif on Old Modernist Pharmacy Façade

Art Nouveau Flower Motif on Old Modernist Pharmacy Façade [enlarge]

To welcome the new week I would like to share with you this beautiful flower motif found on the façade of an antique modernist pharmacy and laboratory once featured in this blog and located if I remember well, on the corner of carrer Bruc and Ausiàs March. One of those small details scattered here and there in the city and that you won't find unless you take a walk out of the usual touristic route.

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Thursday, January 21

Police Chase, La Ribera Quarter. Is Barcelona Less Safe?

Police Chase, La Ribera Quarter, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Police chase I witnessed some time ago in the narrow streets of La Ribera quarter near Santa Caterina market in Barcelona. That day we were taking part in a photo walk organized by Barcelona Photobloggers and suddenly we saw this police car coming right towards us at an impossible speed for an alley like the one in the shot. Needless to say we all stuck our butts against the wall and got so scared that didn't even think of taking pictures. We were standing at an intersection, a cop headed down the street in the image and the car followed but some scaffolds got in the way and they stepped on the gas in reverse in the most pure Hollywood style and went up a slightly wider street. At that point, I remembered the camera and captured this blurry silhouette. I knew it was awful and distorted but I was surprised it had the mood of some documentary shooting. The following morning I read a young man had been killed in the subway and attackers had managed to escape in the narrow alleys nearby although they were caught some days later. Maybe not the same events but it could be.

Well, you know, this sort of things may happen in Barcelona too although it is not an everyday scene.  Or maybe it is but you get to see one or two a year. The fact we are not part of the action does not mean we should look the other way and pretend the problem does not exist.

According to last semester's official poll 43% of participants think the city is worse than before against a more positive 34%. The previous poll carried out in June 2009 showed an opposite result.

The number of people that think local authorities do their job correctly or efficiently is lower than in June but it is still favorable to present town hall administration. There is a certain feeling of being on the right track or so they say, as emphasis is being made on security this year. Results cannot adorn the evidence, 19,6% of citizens mention insecurity as their deepest concern, followed by unemployment voted by 17,6% of participants.

Of course I don't mean to scare anybody: Barcelona is not Sin City!

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Wednesday, January 20

Bike Tours in Barcelona Waterfront

Bike Tours in Barcelona [enlarge]

A bike tour along Barcelona waterfront spotted right in front of Hotel Arts at the end of the wharf nearby, the same day I took this other picture of a man and his bicycle. It was also a foggy morning, pretty much like the ones we are having lately. Yet these people seem to be having fun enjoying the view so imagine how great the experience must be in the spring on one of those bright sunny days watching sailboats coming into the marina or taking a swim after the long ride. Possibilities there are many in the city to go on private, tailor-made bike tours sightseeing landmarks or just the narrow streets of the old part of town and stopping for a refreshing beer and some tapas but finding the best route and the best company I leave up to you since that is not the purpose of this post.

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Sunday, January 17

Francesc de Paula Rius i Taulet by Manuel Fuxa and Pere Falques

Francesc de Paula Rius i Taulet by Manuel Fuxa and Pere Falques [enlarge]

Walking down Passeig Lluis Companys towards Parc de la Ciutadella right at the opposite site of Arc de Triomf we find a monument that honors city mayor Francesc de Paula Rius i Taulet. This obelisk was built between 1897 and 1901 by sculptor Manuel Fuxà with the help of architect Pere Falqués. The universal exhibition of 1888 held in Barcelona had a significant impact on the economic, cultural, demographic and urbanistic development of the city and much of such improvement is owed to Rius i Taulet as president of the event and as promoter of many projects started as a result of the exhibition. Notice the man with hammer on his left that symbolizes Labor and a lady paying homage to the mayor on behalf of the city.

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Friday, January 15

David and Goliath Sculpture by Antoni Llena

David and Goliath Sculpture by Antoni Llena [enlarge]

I've always wondered how a sculpture that resembles a kite can be called David and Goliath. Well, maybe if we frame a tiny human shape next to the tripod then everything makes sense. This sort of War of the Worlds machine marching ominously along Plaça dels Voluntaris (yes, not as catching a word as the original "Surrey") was made by Antoni Llena for the Olympic Games in 1992. The day was foggy and not picture friendly but that doesn't mean we have to stay at home. I hope you like it come what may.

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Thursday, January 14

Barcelona Trees, Our City Lungs: Green Awareness, Health and Other Musings

people around tree engaged in outdoor activities at Parc de la Ciutadella [enlarge]

Barcelona is a city of trees. Of course not as exuberant as we would like but enough to add a note of color, clean up the smog a bit and make people more environment-aware. Catalans care about green. You could say trees are part of the urban furniture. There are plenty of parks in Barcelona and Parc de la Ciutadella in this picture is one of the most emblematic and visited. I have to confess our respect for nature is not as profound so as to go and stretch our bodies standing around a tree so this particular group called my attention. My first thoughts were that it was some kind of pagan ritual calling the powers of Earth and trees in this case cause the man who was leading the exercise was waving at me not to take the picture. Perhaps I was interfering in their concentration. I guess it was only part of some yoga routine. By the way, I read that in Feng Shui, trees represent strength and are considered a source of protection. Whatever the reason they gathered round the trunk for, you have to admit that it was a healthy thing to do much more attractive to the eye that a drunkard sleeping in a nearby bench. Yes, my friends, trees, our city lungs, can filter the air but they won't do miracles!

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Wednesday, January 13

Under The Arc de Triomf

Under The Arc de Triomf [enlarge]

Sometimes we cross through gates unknowingly because the door is totally irrelevant but going under the Arch of Triumph (Arc de Triomf in Catalan) is an odd experience. It is silly to feel a certain thrill just by walking under a bunch of bricks but there must be some kind of inner chip that senses history when approaching a monument, that makes us pretend we are a Roman soldier entering the city while fellow citizens wear laurel wreaths on their heads and make the victory sign with their fingers. Well, you know what I mean, you don't remain indifferent while approaching a majestic building like this and you get carried away. In the early morning sun silhouettes of passers-by are drawn mysteriously into another dimension, into the gates of history.

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Tuesday, January 12

XIX Century Summer House, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

XIX Century Summer House, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona [enlarge]

19th century summer house at Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona. This is one of those beautiful jewels of park architecture that still remain in the city sometimes used as meeting point by groups of students or for concerts and small performances. A magic place early in the morning to enjoy a good book or contemplate the Cascade fountain nearby.

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Monday, January 11

Owl on Watchtower

Owl on Watchtower at Eagles' Peak Reservation [enlarge]

Under the warm light of the afternoon an owl scrutinizes the ground for small preys. From the watchtower, her vision controls every move of the animal trainer at the bird show in Cim d'Aligues park. The girl is holding a mouse in the protective glove at a considerable distance, far enough for the human eye not to be able to tell the glove from the pray. If you want to know more about this park check previous posts here.

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Thursday, January 7

2010, Make a Wish

Kids tossing confetti and candies, Three Wise Men Parade, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Everybody must have received their gift by now. Almost. At least those on the Magi list. But after looking at this girl's eyes it occurs to me that dreams will flow in the air like confetti till next year cause illusions never die. It's the magic behind the gifts what keeps us alive and not the gifts as such. The beauty lies in the joy around that material thing and not the thing itself. It's true some get the bulky presents and many just a wooden toy but that doesn't make them better cause happiness is not in the expensive stuff but in the peace of the soul. But Alas!, how many times we forget that. Now that celebrations are over and the Kings have gone back East, I think this special moment tells me more about what life really is, tossing some confetti and making a wish.

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Wednesday, January 6

Balthazar, The Black Wise Man

Balthazar, The Black Wise Man [enlarge]

The Three Wise Men come from the East every January 5th not to bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus but to perform another sacred task, deliver illusions in the form of toys and candies to the children. In return, they only ask for a letter with requests, some water and perhaps pastries and bread crumbs at will for their exhausted camels. Pageants also do their anonymous chores thus alleviating their masters' titanic duties. In the picture, the most solicited, King Balthazar, the Black Magician and Wise Man, poking inside the sack looking for candy to throw to the anxious and happy crowd along Barcelona streets.

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Tuesday, January 5

Las Ramblas Devil? Please, Dial 666

Las Ramblas Devil Human Statue  [enlarge]

Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Prince of Darkness or simply the Devil are some of the terms used to refer to the eternal antagonist, the adversary, the slanderer ('devil' derives from Gr. diabolos), the evil doer or as we call it El Diablo, that malevolent entity most religions define one way or the other according to their own traditions and beliefs. One thing is true, there seems to be a general acceptance about the existence of evil, they can place it in hell, in the world beyond, in a parallel dimension, in ectoplasm, in your soul, in someone else's soul, in a goat, a black cat, a snake, etc. Being more materialistic, let's say it is just a glitch in the neural connections of our brains stimulated by a high dose of byproduct content in our genetic code, a lousy childhood perhaps and the fact we chew up too many plastic toys when we are toddlers. Of course we can think the devil is our boss, our mother-in-law, our bank creditor or Marilyn Manson. Judging by the horns of our Las Ramblas creature and obviating the Orc shoulder protection from the Lord of the Rings, we could say this is a practical example of downtown demon manifestation. So beware who's next in line when you use a public phone in Barcelona!

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Sunday, January 3

Seasonal Lighting on El Corte Ingles

Seasonal Lighting on El Corte Ingles [enlarge]

A new year has come, we ate, laughed and cried. It is time for other goals and also for the gym and an extreme diet. In coming days the Three Wise Men will return once again to bring toys for kids. El Corte Ingles is one of those traditional department stores with a seasonal lighting: this was the way it looked some days ago for Christmas and I suppose they will set a different decoration for Los Tres Reyes Magos celebrations if they haven't already. I seldom visit this shopping center but you have to admit that their lights are a sort of traditional symbol in Barcelona and celebrations wouldn't be the same without the famous chain store. They spend a fortune I suppose but the full moon is free of charge.

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