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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mosaic Souvenirs in Barcelona Shops

Mosaic Souvenirs Barcelona [enlarge]

The art of covering different surfaces with tile shards to compose a mosaic is called trencadis and it was widely used by Gaudi and his followers. So far so good. What is it with souvenir shops and 'artists' in Barcelona that tend to evoke such technique by using elements so irrelevant to Catalan culture as flamenco dancers or bulls. This is as ambiguous as pretending that Catalans go around wearing Mexican hats.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Barri de Gracia: Bohemian Lights

Barri de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

There are streets that wouldn't say anything to you, streets without a soul, that never leave the slightest trace of memory inside your mind. There are neighborhoods that are so boring, so barren, so sterile, so aseptic that a ghost town looks like Las Vegas next to them. Not so many like those in Barcelona, truth be said. Certainly, the Gracia quarter is not by any chance one of those, not only because of the charming architecture, the cultural activities, the intense night life, the markets, the local stores, the people but also because of the very streets that seem to have a soul of their own. If there is a neighborhood, an ideal kind of neighborhood to get lost into, without a plan, just to wander through the alleys, the squares and fill up your lungs with plenty of vital energy to make yourself feel alive and in tune with your surroundings, that is La Vila de Gracia. As with everything in this world, the sun, its light, the way it comes through the trees, or over the roofs really makes the difference. Of course you can have light elsewhere and it certainly may be as beautiful as any other because we all are under the same star but it is not probable that you have the light, the tiny streets, , the backstreet cafes, the Bohemian atmosphere, the multicultural nature concentrated in such a tiny spot in the middle of a big city. Not that I want you to feel envious about it. I just want you to get to know el Barri de Gràcia in Barcelona cause it's worth every penny and every single minute you spend on it. In the picture,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stick Dancers or Bastoners: Anklet with Bells Detail

Stick dancer's ankler with bells [enlarge]

Catalan folklore feeds on ancient traditions lost in the common past of Mediterranean countries. Stick dance (Cat. Ball de Bastons) was documented for the first time in Catalonia in XII a.d. and then more frequently after XVIII but it has always been part of this region's history besides the fact that it came either from the Greeks, some parts of Asia or even other regions in Europe. The exact origin is uncertain. In the Basque country this dance is very extended as well for example and each region has their own peculiarities when it comes to dresses, sticks or ways of dancing. I am not going to enter into that. Maybe talking about Bastoners or stick dancers as they are today, organized in groups or colles as they have been for the last three centuries according to historical records is easier. To begin with, let me say that there are more than 100 colles all over Catalonia perhaps and about fifty are grouped under the direction of Coordinadora de Ball de Bastons de Catalunya. They all have their own history that is normally linked to the town or neighborhood in which they live. The feet you see in the image, adorned with bells (Cat. picarols) sewn into this piece of cloth called camal or turmellera belong to a stick dancer from a group called Bastoners de Gràcia. I have more pictures of this colla to be posted here. I just want to add for the moment that these colles may be made up of 8,10,12 or 16 dancers. One of them carries a flag with their symbols and the name of the group and usually they also have that name or badge embroidered in their clothes. They carry handkerchiefs around their necks and a colorful waistband over white pants and shirts. Besides they wear espadrilles (Cat. espardenyes). More to know soon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Portraits and Children's Spontaneous Poses

Girl in the park [enlarge]

Sometimes a nice spontaneous pose really makes the difference. This beautiful girl, the daughter of the Chinese family running the bar at the corner, was not looking at my camera as I caught this with a telephoto. I should have come closer with shorter lens but that day I was taking pictures of a show at the local square and I needed more powerful lens. I thought the wooden framework of the slide was great to isolate her while she was in the middle of such fantastic and improvised performance. The light and kids in the background did the rest. Sometimes kids are sort of funny actors rehearsing for the stark reality that lies ahead in the path of life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Caramel Flan in blue

Flan or custard detail [enlarge]

A flan is a flan here in Barcelona and any other place on earth, so if this custard were an animal or something, this picture would be called, common caramel flan. There is nothing new to it. I could be telling you that "this old English word "flan" and the earlier forms "flaune" and "flawn" come from Old French flaon (modern French flan), in turn from early Medieval Latin fladōn-em, derived from Old High German flado, a sort of flat cake, probably from an Indo-European root for 'flat' or 'broad'" and I would be quoting wikipedia, as in fact I am doing right now. I could even give you a link to some nice flan recipes, like Spanish flan and I would dare to recommend you try to use condensed milk for that (my favorite choice) but, nah, that would be too boring a post much more related with Spanish cuisine than with Barcelona. But it happens that I shot this bluish picture in some Spanish restaurant in Barcelona and I enjoyed the display and the light and the perspective so here we are talking about nice looking custard for a change. Enjoy it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barcelona Photoblog's Portraits

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Ari kindly posed for Barcelona Photoblog adding some freshness and beauty to my blog. As you know I prefer street photos but if you visit me frequently you might have noticed that topics and subjects are rather eclectic. She works at a bar nearby and she is not a model but I think she's got the looks. Thanks!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Portrait: Flamenco Dancer with Headpiece and Earrings, Barcelona

Flamenco dancer with headpiece and earrings, Barcelona [enlarge]

This portrait picture of a dancer wearing colorful earrings and flamenco headpiece is yet another sample of how Spanish culture is preserved by local authorities in neighborhoods around Barcelona in their attempt to reflect our reality, a concoction of different regions, different people living in the same peninsula under a flag some share and others do not, with their peculiarities, their traditions and their folklore. Some inhabitants feel identified with flamenco, some others remain indifferent and the rest rejects everything that has to do with it, basically because of that cliche that relates Spain with just bullfighters and flamenco dancers or in many other cases because they are not Spaniards at all but Catalans. But in spite of all these contradictions that you do not see when you are a tourist and come here for the first time, Catalan traditions coexist with these cultural manifestations of other regions and once the show starts, politics and legitimate or not feelings of belonging to one nation or another, to one region or another on both sides are left aside. When I look at this image I just see a beautiful girl wearing a colorful headpiece, having a wonderful day at the party showing people what she does best, dancing flamenco.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Goat Cheese Salad, Terra Mia Italian Restaurant, Barcelona

Goat cheese salad detail [enlarge]
Sometimes the best places to eat are not necessarily along those well trodden touristic routes nor are tips suggested by travel guides comprehensive enough as to include them. When we think of Italian restaurants pizza and pasta come to mind instantly leaving short room for other kind of dishes. But even though you go beyond that point and you are a true enthusiast of Italian cuisine and you accept the fact that it is richer than that sold in Italian fast food restaurants, you may be surprised at some troves you can find out there. Terra Mia is a very small restaurant very near Parc Güell, but difficult to see if you get to the park by bus. It happens that tourists go straight from the parking lot to Parc Güell and back to the bus again without noticing that some blocks down the street, exactly at carrer Ramiro de Maetzu, 31 there is this hidden gem. I am just a very happy client and they are responsible for that because the service is impeccable and food is exquisite.This goat cheese salad in the picture above is just a sample but you ought to try their every dish as not only the ingredients are genuinely Italian but also the way they are cooked and served. In spite of being a small place they have a very nice terrace. Don't forget to try a bottle Il carpino wine. Find here Terra Mia Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Girl at the Bar, Estacion de Francia, Barcelona

Girl at bar [enlarge]
I liked the looks of this girl at the bar in Estació de Françia, Barcelona, with the blue and yellow lights falling on her, in front of the art nouveau lamp. Perhaps you would like to have a closer look of the lamp and see the beer pump as shown in previous post: Beer Pump and Lamp or want to check the entrance to the railway station: Woman waiting at Estación de Francia or Estació de França or Barcelona's most charming railway station. I think one of the best things about Barcelona is that you can enjoy art for a reasonable price, you can take a drink in a beautiful place like this for an affordable amount and of course I don't mean just the bar but the architecture of the building and the whole design of the place.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Barri Gotic, Barcelona: Carrer Avinyo near El Call

Nuns [enlarge]

Here's Carrer d'Avinyó between Carrer Ferran and Carrer de la Lleona in Barri Gotic, Barcelona. Wandering down the streets of El Gotic, blindly meandering through the alleys, while being permeated by the mood, the charm of this historical part of the city, you get so detached that it is not really difficult to imagine how Barcelona used to be inside walls, and particular in this part of casc antic (old town) near the Jewish quarter. In fact, in XIII century the king allowed to open doors and windows in the Roman wall and the old perimeter of El Call (the Jewish quarter) expanded to include Carrers Avinyó and Banys Nous. In El Call de Barcelona lived about 4.000 people, approximately 15 per cent of the city population. Of course, there are the shops and many other anachronisms now but you get the idea. These two nuns in front of the Rent Shop at Avinyó 12 may be of help to reminisce.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vintage Tube Radio

Vintage radio [enlarge]

There are plenty of things that not necessarily match the scope of this blog but that attract me and can be found in Barcelona anyway as well as in any other place in the world. Vintage products have that charm that makes them so irresistible and well deserve a post or two, such is the case of this tube radio with its wooden case that I suppose was made in the 30s of last century. I wish I knew the date and the brand but I am no expert. The brand is Rigom and happens to be from Spain (check this book fragment with images in google book results about Spanish radios). If you want to see my vintage camera check this old post: Voigtlander Brillant which was made by that time too. Do you like vintage or retro objects? Have you published any articles or posts on such topic? It would be nice you shared your links here in the comments.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Apple Retail Store Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona: View from the Upper Floor

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A brand new Apple retail store opened to the public last Saturday, July 28th right in front of Plaça Catalunya, the most central spot in downtown Barcelona next to Passeig de Gracia. With the intention of getting my wife's Ipod shuffle battery problems fixed we visited the venue two days ago. The first thing you notice is the big wide open space feeling and the materials prevailing in the design, basically glass and wood. Worth mentioning is the translucent glass staircase to the upper floor. If anybody at Apple is interested in my wife's opinion as a consumer, a middle age consumer with no special inclination for the Mac world, the shop is weird. But anyway, it is clear that it is conceived with a certain purpose, facilitate easy access, visibility, movement and a certain state of mind I think. Everything is already planned here. All in all I liked the store but I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and the fact that many were not buying anything. It was hot in there. It is quite hard to give good reviews in such scenario, chaotic as it was due to high temperatures, hordes of locals and tourists alike storming the place and a little bit of the normal craziness during the first week after the opening. Maybe you get a better picture of Apple's new flagship store in this gallery at Cult of Mac or in a previous announcement at Mac Rumors

Note: The picture was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Papier Mache Art: Famous Artists Display, Barcelona

Papier mache, Barcelona [enlarge]

The art of creating papier mache figures or sculptures can be simple if we consider the materials used but the final work can be as difficult as your imagination and skills permit. Many of us at a given moment of our childhood have had the opportunity to shape small figures by pasting glued strips of paper on a balloon, a cardboard model or an armature of some sort. The final result was not always artistically worthy but it surely proved to be fun. For those of you who always wished to make a wonderful artwork in paper mache and never could, here is another good sample of exquisite papier-mâché reproductions of famous artists like John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury...(the other guy looks like the Edge from U2 but I am not sure). There is this store near Plaza Sant Jaume in Barcelona where it is possible to buy such art among other articles. It is not cheap but you would impress your friends at home for sure and of course it is the heck of a present if you can afford it. Check many other examples of such figures in my previous posts: Papier Mache Barcelona. I've been asked so many times for the address of this shop that I will reluctantly post it here and make them free publicity in spite of the fact they always come out and stop me from taking pictures:

Shop name: 2 Bis
Adress: Carrer Bisbe, 2 - 08002 Barcelona

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Inner Courtyard Swimming Pool in Barcelona

Swimming Pool, Barcelona [enlarge]

This beautiful swimming pool in some inner courtyard somewhere in carrer Berlin is just one of the many secrets hidden around the city where modern architecture coexists with Catalan Art Nouveau.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cherry Tomatoes in Barcelona

Cherry Tomatoes [enlarge]

Some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes as seen at a shop across the street. Their succulent, juicy appearance was worth shooting. I like the contrast with the green beans or the asparagus nearby.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Old Farmhouse (Masia) Door: 1817

Old Masia Door: 1817 [enlarge]

The texture of rotten wood, the pass of time reflected on this 1817 door inside the premises of an old farmhouse or masia in Granollers near Barcelona

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Flowers on the Window

Flowers on Window [enlarge] 
On the same line as yesterday's post, let's continue with the spring flower topic on Barcelona Photoblog. While I find time to resume my photowalks around Barcelona what better than sharing some colors or some views that delighted my eyes in Spring.

Flowerbed

Flowerbed [enlarge] 
Some flowerbed somewhere in some garden in the afternoon. Seasonal flowers to enjoy the colors of Spring. I thought they looked better from ground level. Very common flowers. I don't even know the name. Who cares? Just some beautiful flowers. Maybe you can classify them for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sant Jordi Rose, A Catalan Tradition

 [enlarge]
Yesterday like every April 23rd La Diada de Sant Jordi (St. George) celebrations took place in Barcelona. On a day like this, women are given a flower, a red rose while men are supposed to receive books. In the end everybody ends up buying books as this happened to be the Day of the Book as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rusty Keyhole in Farmhouse Door

Rusty keyhole [enlarge]

Time is an acid that eats up on all things. It does not matter whether it's a stone, a wooden plank or a metal surface, it keeps gnawing on textures until damage is visible and eventually stuff disappears, disintegrates into some other matter. This keyhole on an old masia (Catalan for farmhouse) door was no exception, nor were the boards that painstakingly try to hold the lock.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Climbing Plant on Old Catalan Farmhouse

Climbing plant wall [enlarge]

Spring decorates every year the walls of Catalan farmhouses (cat. masias) with incredible strokes of color as if mother nature was immersed in some kind of restoration process to embellish what only seems to be held by the knots and entanglements of climbing plants like this. Watching the afternoon sun fall on these bright leaves is really a pleasure to the eye.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Romesco Sauce: The Perfect Companion to Calçots

How to Prepare Romesco Sauce [enlarge]

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Calçots are supposed to be soaked in Romesco sauce. I mentioned the ingredients too. I guess this video might do to get the idea considering I wanted it in English for everyone to understand. I wish it was some Catalan chef but the guy knows what he's doing anyway.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Peeling Calçots, Masia Can Palau, Vilanova del Valles

Peeling Calçots [enlarge]

In Catalonia, there is this part of the year when going out to have calçots at any of the many masias spread around the country becomes almost a matter of state. Most well-known places to have them are in the southern province of Tarragona, in a region called Valls but around Barcelona it is not strange to find a good spot in a idyllic environment. The place I will mention today is just an example and of course you are free to choose. It is called Masia Can Palau and it is located in Vilanova del Valles some kilometers away from the city of Barcelona. We had a 30 eur menu that included Calçots with Romescu sauce, grilled meat (a mixture of chicken, sausage, lamb and rabbit with fries) and dessert. We had two generous rounds of calçots per person, they came wrapped in aluminum foil and very hot. We soaked tender and juicy stems of the plant, that you have to peel first, in an exquisite romescu sauce which is made with almond, garlic, red pepper, hazelnut, tomato, olive oil, vinegar, crumbs of fried bread, salt and pepper. If you want to know how they cook calçots and what they are, check my previous posts: Catalan Traditions - Calçotada: A Close Look and Grilled Leaks...Check the sauce in next post.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tattoo Shop, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Tattoo Shop, Barri Gotic, Barcelona [enlarge]

Becoming an intruder into somebody else's moment, sneaking into that magic instant that is no more and freezing it for posterity is one of the most thrilling experiences at least for me and I guess for anyone that enjoys photography. Walking down the narrow alleys of Barri Gotic, in a street whose name I can't recall, there was this small tattoo shop. The reflection of the man on the mirror and that green pouring out of the blinds really grabbed my attention. I had serious doubts as to whether to use black and white here and I can tell you it looks great but if color made me capture the scene in color it will go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Estacion de Francia, Barcelona: Lamp and Beer Pump

Beer Pump and Lamp, Estacion de Francia, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Upon entering Estació de França in Barcelona and if you turn right and get into the bar you will find out that the place has been restored recently with great taste by the way. Worth mentioning are the big lamps hanging from the ceiling but today I would like to show you the ones on the counter (see image) next to the beer pump. A sweet mixture of tree, anemone and candlestick. I hope you enjoy the design and/or the beer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Woman Waiting, Estació de França, Barcelona

Estacion de Francia, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

A woman searches in her bag while her thoughts are somewhere far away. The quietude at the train station hall is the perfect environment to meditate before that long ride to who knows where. The pendulums hanging from the ceiling contribute to the idea of time passing by while the ticking of the clock on the distant wall, almost audible, is only interrupted by the steps of the guard walking his beat. Such is the impressive atmosphere at this famous train station in Barcelona. Find out more about this place in my previous post: Estació de França and Dome Detail.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies in Vinegar), Mediterranean Delight

Anchovies in Vinegar [enlarge]

Having a tapa of raw fish macerated in vinegar is surely not quite luring for some stomachs. Mediterranean anchovies are not just gutted fish salted in brine, matured and canned or bottled in oil or salt as those you find in the market. They are also served fresh and marinated in vinegar as the ones in the picture. This exquisite tapa is called Boquerones en vinagre. By now you probably have guessed that not all anchovies prepared this way taste the same and that both the freshness of the fish and the quality of the vinegar really make the difference. Yesterday, we enjoyed these superb boquerones en vinagre dressed with garlic, parsley and some olives at Rincon de la Ciudadela, exactly at the corner of carrer Princesa and carrer Comerç in El Born, Barcelona. The restaurant is not modern, chic and trendy like many others in the area, but you know, good food, is not always in the coolest place.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gallery on Building by Enric Sagnier, Gran Via 654, Barcelona

Gallery, Enric Sagnier, Gran Via 654, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Eclectic building influenced by Catalan Art Nouveau but rich in baroque ornaments built by Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia back in 1904. Notice the beautiful undulated shapes of the stone gallery and the impressive ironwork of the balconies. You can find this building at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 654 exactly between Carrer Roger de Lluria and Carrer de Pau Claris.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Barcelona Photoblog Celebrates Sixth Anniversary, Cheers!

Freixenet bottle [enlarge]

Yesterday, February 22nd, but six years ago, Barcelona Photoblog started a project that was meant to change this author's life a little bit. I have devoted many sleep hours to write almost 2000 posts and lots of long walks around this beautiful city to portray our reality. In 2005 I was lucky to find a good name but had the blog empty for over a year. I had no idea what to say or do. In 2006, there was this French guy, Eric, who had started a group called City Daily Photo meant to publish a picture a day about each member's city. I owe a lot to them and I am thankful for all the help and the enthusiasm the group gave me back then and through the 6 years of blogging. Barcelona Photoblog was also inspired by Barcelona Photobloggers, a solid community of photographers from Barcelona that have always been a reference to me. Bearing both communities in mind, my goal has been to document, report, narrate, highlight as much as I could and with all my heart about Barcelona. I hope I can keep shooting and writing for another 6 years. If anyone found this useful in anyway then every hour was worth spending. I would like to uncork this bottle of cava to virtually celebrate with you all these years of Barcelona images: cheers!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Roman Temple, Vic, Catalonia

Roman Temple, Vic, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

There are numerous good samples of the Roman past of Catalonia throughout our geography. This Roman temple from II a.c in the city of Vic is not precisely the best example since it underwent two important restorations but the fact is that at least part of a column shaft and the Corinthian capitals on the right hand side of the entrance are authentic. What is certainly special about this temple is that it was discovered in 1882 while demolishing the old Montcada's family castle who lived there in XI century. In IX c. Guifré el Pelós decided to integrate the old VIII c. fortress it had been during Saracen times, into a castle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gruyere Cheese Wheels, Vic Market, Catalonia

Le Gruyere [enlarge]

If you are a cheese lover you should not miss the sweet, nutty flavor of this exquisite Le Gruyere named after the valley of Gruyere in Fribourg, Switzerland. Such enormous wheels of cheese I found while visiting the Medieval Market in Vic. There were other posts in the past about such market here in Barcelona Photoblog: Medieval Musicians, Rabbit and Pumpkins, Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

Sunday, January 29, 2012

L'Ou Com Balla or The Dancing Egg, Barcelona Cathedral

L'Ou Com Balla or The Dancing Egg, Barcelona Cathedral, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

In the cloister of the Cathedral of Barcelona there is a beautiful fountain decorated with flowers that reminds you of idyllic gardens, of some paradise lost on earth. It is the Sant Jordi fountain. Surfing over the soft cushion of its water jet once a year you can see a fragile eggshell that seldom falls which is called the L'Ou Com Balla, which translated literally from Catalan means how the egg dances or how dances the egg. This is not the only place in Barcelona where you can find a dancing egg (there's one a la Casa de l'Arcadia or at Museum Frederic Mares' courtyard for example) but I think this is the one with more tradition, a tradition that goes back to the XIVth century and has to do with Corpus Christi celebrations, the eggshell itself representing the body of Christ. The exact date to see L'Ou com Balla changes but it takes place at the end of May or in June depending on Corpus Christi Feast.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The New Skyline of Barcelona: Corruption and Hedonism

Barcelona New Hotels [enlarge]

Near the forum area and Diagonal Mar, new hotels and office buildings see the light of day like flowers in the spring. Once, we were told that the height of new buildings would be controlled in order to respect traditional Catalan architecture in the city. There were times when only Hotel Arts and Mapfre Tower overlooked the sea, as solitary twins down there by the beach. I am not sure if they ever passed the law but it seems that regulations are there to be broken by real estate companies in connivance with prestigious architects and dubious local government representatives and so the story goes, all of a sudden we have a myriad of new tall buildings on the waterfront or along Diagonal Avenue that may be wonderful for touristic revenues and for the city but that have sent the initial good criteria straight down the drain. This modest blogger does like hotels and beautiful skylines but I can't help being astonished at how power tends to corrupt those we vote.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Parc de Joan Miro or Parc de l'Escorxador, Barcelona

Joan Miro Park, Barcelona - Dona i Ocell sculpture [enlarge]

Here is a view of Parc de l'Escorxador or Parc de Joan Miro with the famous Dona i Ocell (1982) by the famous Catalan sculptor (Joan Miro Barcelona, 1893 - Palma, 1983). This shot was taken from the roof of Las Arenas shopping center. The colors are enhanced because I thought the whole scene was rather dull. In fact it still is but maybe with a little luck you happen to focus on the beautiful sculpture in the middle and follow the link to my previous post and better appreciate the work of Joan Miro.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gramophone or Phonograph, Casa Mila aka La Pedrera by Gaudi, Barcelona

Gramophone or Phonograph [enlarge]

A beautiful example of phonograph or Gramophone invented by Edison in 1877. This vintage record player can be admired at Casa Mila aka La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona.