Barcelona Photoblog: 2009

December 31, 2009

Ramblas Cowboy Wishes You a Happy 2010!

Ramblas Cowboy, Barcelona, Spain

On behalf of the Ramblas Cowboy, that famous human statue in the renown Barcelona street, we want to wish you all a Happy 2010. He is not my acquaintance, but I am sure he can back me up in this one cause judging by the warm smile he always wears he must be a great guy. I woke up today thinking on catching up his figure against Christmas lights. It came out different but in the end I am happy I walked down to Las Ramblas and enjoyed the good mood everyone was sharing by the end of 2009. All the best!

December 27, 2009

L'Auca del Senyor Esteve, Tile Work at Carrer Petritxol, Barcelona

L'Auca del Senyor Esteve, Tile Work at Carrer Petritxol, Barcelona

This tile work depicts L'Auca del Senyor Esteve based upon a novel by Santiago Rusiñol i Prats (1861-1931) published in 1907 and set on stage in 1917.

27 drawings by Ramon Casas and 27 rodolins or verses by Gabriel Alomar illustrate the original story narrated by Rusiñol which is about a young heir called Ramonet, a modernist artist born in a traditional petite bourgeois family of La Ribera quarter in Barcelona.

The father, Mr. Esteve was the founder of a small shop called La Puntual in 1830 and his common sense, his pragmatism, his perseverance directly opposes the new ideas, the fresh artistic air of his son. A conflict between the artist that exists thanks to his father's money and strivings or in other words, the historic role of traditional Catalan bourgeoisie as the springboard for new artists of modernisme.

But what is an auca anyway? An auca is a story told by a set of images in one single sheet of paper in numbers evenly divided by 4, generally 24 or 48, and some short text under each illustration (xylography, lithography and later photoengraving techniques were used). It might recall comics in a way but much more rigid in structure. Images are conditioned by the metrics or the rhyme of the text always below and out of the illustration.

Auca is an old variant of oca, meaning goose, an animal quite frequent in this sort of artwork. Everything started with cards depicting animals and natural elements, like the Sun and the Moon that were used to play the game by the same name or for divination in many cases for money. Once this activity was forbidden the animation developed into art. The text also evolved into two-line rhymed rodolins in XIX.

December 25, 2009

Crucifixion on Decayed Wall, Barcelona

Crucifixion on Decayed Wall, Barcelona

Crucified for defending the poor, the sick, the hungry, his image prevails in the memory of mankind. He was just a man victim of his own ideas, a revolutionary that renounced to the flesh in the name of his faith to become an eternal soul, an immortal message embedded in every heart. You may believe in the miracle or not, you may skip all that was written later on, but the fact is someone was killed that day apparently for nothing but for everyone at the same time and the account of such deeds still endures the pass of time cause that human existence is not what matters anymore but the act as such, his sacrifice for the love of others. 

It is true that there is some sort of flame in you, something that makes you feel right when you defend the poor, the sick, the hungry whether you are a believer or an atheist. You can call it humanity or religiousness. I cannot give you an explanation but I am glad there is something after all, if not, life would be totally meaningless. On this Christmas day I leave you with this graffiti of a crucifix on a decayed wall in hope you remember those who need your help. Nice holidays my friends.

December 24, 2009

We Cagatios, the Whole Log Family Together Wish you a Merry Christmas!

Group of Caga Tios in Santa Llucia market

Hello my friends, we don't have snow, we haven't seen Santa Claus yet but we are all here awake, waiting for the magic moments to arrive. The whole family of Catalan cagatiós (yes, they call us pooping logs cause we also bring gifts when kids hit us with a rod) wish all our friends and their families a Merry Christmas.

December 23, 2009

Cogwheels: Industrial Reminiscence of Catalonia's Past

Cogwheel in sculpture by Antoni Clave, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Cogwheels that evoke the times of industrial revolution in Europe, times of textile factories in Catalonia, of heavy machinery, of steam and rising unions, of a powerful bourgeoisie interested in new technologies, in productivity, in capitalism and also in the latest artistic trends, as a way to rebel against the heavy yoke of aristocracy and monarchy.

This cogwheel is part of a bigger sculpture placed in Parc de la Ciutadella in 1998 to celebrate the centennial year of the Universal Exhibition in the city. It is a modern sculptoric work by Spanish painter, sculptor, stage and costume designer Antoni Clavé (1913 –2005).

December 21, 2009

Bolets or Mushrooms You Can Buy at La Boqueria, Barcelona

Bolets or Mushrooms at La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain  [enlarge]

I don't have the slightest idea about mushrooms so I am going to dare give names to these three species. According to pictures, the first ones on the left could be some variant of Tricholoma, in the middle and most attractive to the eye, Cantharellus tubaeformis or Cantharellus infundibuliformis aka Rossinyol in Catalonia and finally what seems to be Agaricus bisporus. But then again don't follow my word on this so as to go and collect some in the wild holding my image cause your life might be at risk. The photograph was taken last September at La Boqueria market. If there are boletaires (bolet is Catalan for mushroom and boletaire those who know about bolets) in the audience please help me with this one.

This is just a recommendation of course for you to have fun with media. And while you are at it, how about more than 7000 mushroom recipes to browse for fresh ideas and maybe add that final touch to your Christmas table?.

December 20, 2009

Sailing Boats Coming Out of Moll de Xaloc, Barcelona

Sailing Boats, Moll de Xaloc, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

A group of sailboats coming out of Moll de Xaloc right in front of Hotel Arts and Torre Mapfre in Barcelona. What seems to be a class or an organized tour of some kind is towed by a zodiac towards open seas. In the distance the beautiful silhouette of Hotel W Barcelona also known as Hotel Vela (sail) by Ricardo Bofill.

December 17, 2009

Barcelona Predators: Seagulls - Strange Animal Behavior?

Seagull holding dead pigeon - Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain

Food, speaking on global terms and not western world standards, is scarce, and this is valid for animals as well that urged by that innate code mother nature gave them tend to change their behavior and even their habitat pushed by this irrational human vicious conduct of throwing stones into our own fragile roof. It is well known that we are happily helping degrade our planet, "nobody lives forever so f*** the future" many think, therefore creatures of the earth find it hard to survive in such a mess. Who has not heard of thinner than ever polar bears coming into towns for food, birds not migrating when or where they are supposed to, insignificant fish captures due to drastic changes in ocean temperatures as a result of global warming of the planet caused by men. I remember those times, when a seagull used to be near the shore feeding on fish or crabs and carrying their prey to their nests in nearby hills. In Barcelona it has become rather common to see these noisy, cunning and robust birds nesting on the roof of our buildings, claiming their territory against pigeons and smaller species and in some cases attacking children in school backyards to steal away a sandwich. Seagulls are carnivores and sometimes scavenge a little so it is not strange that they kill a small sick bird or take profit from their decaying corpse. The ackward thing to me is to find it in the middle of the Ciutadella park surrounded by people, holding an animal so big as an adult pigeon and looking at me so defiantly in the most pure Hitchcock-The Birds style. Times are achanging my friend and for the bad.

December 15, 2009

Passeig de Lluis Companys - Barcelona: Dragon Face on Cast Iron Planter


Along Passeig de Lluis Companys, called Saló de Sant Joan in times of the Barcelona Universal Exhibition of 1888, there are these fabulous cast iron planters adorned with mythological beasts, menacing dragon faces watching passersby from each side of the urn. In fact, they look like gargoyles draining the water from the plant. Both these wrought iron urns on the balustrades and the fabulous gas lamps with benches by Pere Falques, must have been a wonderful attraction back in XIX. You should know that this promenade, that starts with the Arc de Triomf and ends at the Rius i Taulet monument in honor to the city mayor who was responsible for the embelishment of the "antechamber" to the event venues in the Parc de la Ciutadella, was in a way the red carpet, the vestibule to the first buildings of the famous exhibition. That previous surrounding area was kind of deserted as many of the buildings were about to be built like the Palace of Justice 1888-1910, walking down on the left, about half way of the road. On a picture I will post soon I will abound on the history of Passeig de Lluis Companys and the sculptoric elements that remain. For the moment enjoy the company of this horrendous animal basking in the morning sun or better yet, watch the exact planter on Google street view mode below and don't forget to surround the whole walk to see both the Ciutadella park and the Arc de Triomphe.

View Larger Map

December 13, 2009

Casa Enric Laplana or Casa Mundó, Passeig de Sant Joan 6, Barcelona

Casa Enric Laplana or Casa Mundó or Casa Estapé by Bernardi Martorell i Puig - Late Modernisme, Passeig de Sant Joan 6, Barcelona

Last Saturday I went for a walk down Passeig de Sant Joan to test my brand new Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens. I stopped before this building attracted by the beauty of the balconies. I did not know the name which I found later when I got home.

After some research online, I learned that it is called three different ways Casa Enric Laplana or Casa Mundó or Casa Estapé and was build by Bernardí Martorell i Puig in 1907.

This Catalan architect born in 1877 belonged to a wealthy family and received a good education. Got his architecture degree in 1902. He worked for some time in the Sagrada Familia and was a friend of Gaudi's.

His work is considered part of late Catalan modernism but some of his buildings have a touch of historicism. Many of his works were religious buildings like the Església de Sant Agustí in Sabadell, Convent de Valldonzella in Barcelona, Església dels Escolapis in Sabadell, Església i Convent del Santíssim Redemptor de les Oblates de Bellesguard in Barcelona or the Col·legi de les Teresianes in Tarragona.

Bernardí was influenced by English neo-gothic and also had a passion for oriental art and architecture. He died in Hospital de Sant Pau in 1937 of acute myocarditis.

But I leave you watching the elaborate ironwork, the orange stucco façade with serigraphed flowers mixed with the bare bricks in the upper floor. In the picture you cannot see the ceramic tile cupola on top or the stone gallery of the first floor but you can follow this link to see the full view of Casa Enric Laplana or check it on the map. The lens worked out fine by the way although I'll save it for street photography.

December 11, 2009

Dragonfly: I am Watching You!

Dragonfly on a leaf [enlarge]

The chopper silently watched from atop, sensing every single movement of the stealthy squad approaching from the bush. They say they can only see from orange to UV but detect movements separated by 1/300th of a second and have almost 360º vision from their rack of 30000 telescopes on each side of their cabin. Darn, I've got to be invisible! Loading weapons, fire! That's it! Tango reporting to headquarters, the chopper is down, I repeat, the enemy is down. We've got the Dragonfly!!!

This war fiction on dragonflies and their resemblance with helicopters has been possible thanks to this wonderful article: Sight and Flight.

December 09, 2009

Still Life: Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain

Like a painting depicting hunting trophies or a still life portraying dead animals, specially those of hares and birds, appeared before my eyes, imbued with a ghostly bluish-yellowish light, the wild game stand in La Boqueria market. From the mixture of species on display, I cropped this rack of wild partridges so you could take a good peek at the strange artistic beauty that inspired painters in the past, at that mysterious blend of nature, food, life and death evoked with traditional austerity in many Spanish bodegones where dead animals hung from a hook waiting to be skinned and free of any banquet luxury or adornment so often present in similar paintings from other countries in Baroque times. I know this is just a picture of dead wild partridges and you may not find it artistic at all but I wanted you to think about this aspect of painting and the peculiar relationship between art, men and dead animals regarded as something aesthetic.

December 06, 2009

Mammoth At Large - Park de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Mammoth - Park de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain  [enlarge]

Beware of the mammoth! Yes, a mammoth is at large somewhere amidst the fountains, the promenades, the pavilions in Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona. Don't say I didn't warn you when you step on the glade and there's no one but you and the beast. Luckily I had time to fire the flash of my camera and sneaked away in the bush. You may not be that fortunate. Now being a little more serious, let me tell you that this stone mammoth was built based upon a model by sculptor Miquel Dalmau and as part of an initiative of Norbert Font i Sagué (1874-1910), writer, geologist and renown speleologist. Thanks to Norbert Font speleology was first introduced in Catalonia.

December 04, 2009

Water Jug with Children, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Water Jug with Children, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Sometimes a work of art is so aesthetically breathtaking that it would be a sacrilege to step away without going round to take a peek from the opposite side. This image is dedicated to all those who bother looking from another perspective for the sake of knowledge, for the sake of art. Check my first post about the Water Jug with Children for details.

December 01, 2009

Peeling Fava Beans - Some Like it Raw

Peeling Fava Beans at La Boqueria market, Barcelona

One of the secret pleasures and most amusing of activities in life, at least for some Mediterranean peoples is to shell and then peel fava beans, broad beans or habas as we know them in Spanish and eat the fresh content, the seed or kernel raw, accompanied with some bread and sometimes other ingredients like cod, cheese, ham, etc. My wife loves them and refers to them as an authentic delicatessen. Bear in mind though that you may catch a disease called favism which causes anemia but only if you are genetically predisposed. Try to tell that to locals in Murcia, Andalusia and other regions of Spain! In my opinion, you need some skill to peel habas or at least I see experts pile up a good amount of shells in the time I need to utterly destroy one pod. In the image, notice the beans inside the cardboard box and a bunch of pods right in front in the plastic container. This was taken early in the morning at one of those open air veggie stalls set outside La Boqueria market. The picture is almost ruined cause there was too much light and I didn't have much time to set the camera properly and still get away with my candid. I brought it here so you could see what peeling favas looks like and learn about the tradition behind it, a tradition as old as humanity itself and only second to good old lentils but that is part of another story. To illustrate the culinary aspect of fava beans here is a list of videos either about the plant or recipes that might give you new ideas for today's meal.

November 28, 2009

Stretching at Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Outdoor Push ups, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain

The man was really doing some light push ups as part of his stretching routine possibly before starting jogging.

Parc de la Ciutadella is the perfect place to practice outdoor sports early in the morning but bear in mind that on certain days this hot spot in flooded with people engaged in some cultural activity. Have a nice weekend my friends.

Check other posts about Ciutadella park that give you an idea of the superb scenario to practice open sports: Cascade Ciutadella Fountain or Barcelona Trees: Our City Lungs

November 27, 2009

Barcelona Tram: Route T4 Start Point, Ciutadella - Villa Olimpica

Barcelona Tram: Route T4 [enlarge]

This is the start point of T4, one of the Barcelona Tram routes, going from Ciutadella (Olympic Villa) to Sant Adria. To be more specific it is at the end of Wellington street just next to the zoo entrance. To digress a little, I would like to remark how difficult it is for me to choose a proper, original title for a post. Difficult in the sense that I am always conditioned by SEO to make my site noted on the web. To tell you the truth, the sole fact of being so tied to niches, keyword phrases and so on is really a nuisance aka a pain in the a**. Maybe now you'd say, well go ahead and choose whatever title you want. Well, perhaps you wouldn't be reading this cause the post would be lost at the bottom of Google's obscure twilight zone. Yep, I am clearly digressing now. I should have called this something in the way from A Street Car Name T4 to Wheelchair Adapted Transportation. Does anybody know how to give artistic titles to a post and make it hit first pages of Google search results? I would like to give details about our modern tram system but there are sites offering great information on this and this blog is not associated in any way with Tram BCN. Where was I?...

November 25, 2009

Colored Stone Wall

Colored Stone Wall [enlarge]

What can I say. This is a wall. Originally a very dull one. The place, somewhere in Barcelona. Another play with colors and textures. Hope you like my stone wall.

November 23, 2009

Man, Bike and Wool Knit Hat

Man in Catalan Wool Knit Hat and Bike

First of all, I have to say it was the woolen hat that struck my attention. This was another lucky shot (see also last post). I was right in front of Hotel Arts and Torre Mapfre by the end of this concrete pier facing the entrance to the marina. There's a privileged spot right after you descend the small set of stairs by the end of the road. You can comfortably lay your camera upon a chest-high wall and capture the sailboats on their way towards open water. As I was saying, I couldn't believe my luck since I realized that right from ground level I could see people enjoying the seascape, lost in their own thoughts. So here was my favorite from that day, a man, a bike and a Catalan wool knit hat.

November 22, 2009

Jogging, Burning Calories Before Christmas Holidays

Jogging girl in Barcelona

The other day I was talking about how I was following an extreme pre-holiday diet. So far I've been able to lose about 5 kilos but in a very passive way. Of course a good option would be jogging or a combination of both.

Although I play soccer on Sundays, I don't feel like jogging anymore as I used to. I still remember how euphoric I felt after my long sessions in a park near home. So I envy this girl's splendid shape.

To tell you the truth I was shooting the benches from a low level angle when this athlete suddenly appeared in my picture. Thanks for that!

November 20, 2009

Bicolor Flower Fantasy

Bicolor Flower Fantasy [enlarge]

It's Friday. I am tired and felt like watching some movie. Got home from work and thought I might as well play with an old picture to see what came out. After some time and not without changing looks on many occasions I went for a more surreal touch. Have a nice weekend everyone!

November 19, 2009

Looking for the Perfect Chocolate Display, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Chocolate Display, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Whether you are on a strict pre-winter-holiday diet like me or you are prone to go on an unleashed dessert-swallowing spree more than often convinced as you are that gluttony is no sin, you have to admit that an attractive display is 90 percent responsible for our brains to start sending green light signals to our less rational stomach. Take the case of this impeccable chocolate stand display so well kept by this young employee at renown Barcelonian market, La Boqueria.

November 16, 2009

Boatman Rowing - Parc de la Ciutadella Lake, Barcelona

Boatman Rowing - Parc de la Ciutadella Lake, Barcelona [enlarge]

Rowing is not as easy as it seems. Everyone getting on board of a boat for the first time stranded in the middle of one of those beautiful park lakes will probably agree with me that coordinating both arms to make the ship move in the right direction is not a piece of cake, so guess what it should be like towing almost a dozen boats the way this dexterous boatman does in the Parc de la Ciutadella. Should you want to row a boat on the lake, check the price:

30 Minutes:

2 Persons 6 EUR
3 Persons 9 EUR
4/5 Persons 10 EUR

November 15, 2009

Graffiti from Barcelona, Spain

Graffiti from Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Just another sample of good Barcelonian graffiti. Street art is everywhere in our city. Maybe too much sometimes but when nice it is really refreshing and stimulating.

November 13, 2009

Aurora and Chariot: Golden Horses Detail

The Chariot of Aurora, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

I had promised to continue with the full story on the Cascade fountain in Ciutadella park but I was busy and chose another detail of one of the many elements in the sculptural group and monument: the horses drawing Aurora's Chariot. Aurora obviously is not on sight due to this low angle. The fact is that the lady is only visible from the square in front of the cascade. I was not carrying the proper lens to zoom in so I had to come closer. By the way, Aurora is the name Romans gave to Eos the dawn goddess according to Greek mythology. Notice: there is also a renown art deco wall relief by the name The Chariot of Aurora and also just to make a bad joke, Eos has nothing to do with Canon.

November 11, 2009

Griffin Reflection - Cascade Fountain, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Ciutadella Parc: Griffin at the Cascade fountain [enlarge]

It is strange but before describing the stage which is the Cascade fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella and its history, I would like to show you one of the actors, a griffin (griffon or gryphon). Remember Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? That beast they are trying to feed? Well, that was a hippogriff, the mixture of a horse and a griffin. A griffin has the body of a lion instead plus the common eagle traits. In the Cascade, there are four of them. The combination of the mythological being and its reflection really captivated me. I hope Aurora on the chariot back there (you will see tomorrow) is not jealous. It is evident that she has the leading part in this elaborate fountain. By the way, the four water-sprouting griffins were sculpted by the same artist that created the famous 7.2 m high statue of Columbus at Las Ramblas, his name, Rafael Atché (1854 - 1923). Once said that, check next post for the whole story.

November 09, 2009

Ciutadella Parc: Tricycle Ride

Ciutadella Parc: Tricycle Ride [enlarge]

Who said Barcelona is just museums! Our city is great to enjoy a good ride or a nice walk along one of its many green promenades. Notice these girls having fun in Ciutadella Parc on board of this curious tricycle with front load.

November 08, 2009

Ciutadella Park: Water-Jug With Children by Josep Reynes

Water-Jug With Children by Josep Reynes, Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park, a part of the city I had not covered much in my blog in the past, is a vast green area, a sort of Central Park that holds some museums and the zoo and is sprinkled with numerous sculptures. This fountain designed by Josep Reynés dates back to 1882. The Font Gerro amb Nens (water-jug with children fountain) is one of the finest in the park.

Josep Reynés (1850-1926) was a Catalan sculptor that was trained in Barcelona and at Carpeaux’s studio in Paris. He was greatly influenced by the French school. We saw one of his works when we featured the reliefs at Arc de Triomf.

November 05, 2009

Egg Stall, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Egg Stall, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Illuminated by both the warm incandescent light of the bulbs and the pristine rays of the early morning Sun these eggs, so carefully laid out as they are, seem to draw the most attention in La Boqueria market. In my opinion, the egg stall is only second best to the fruit stand at the entrance. By the way, today it is starting to be slightly cold in Barcelona although for tourists coming from up North this must be a joke. Sooner or later we will be like little chicks looking for a warm shelter under Mommy Hen's feathers. I hate winter.

November 04, 2009

Placeta de Sant Francesc, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Placeta de Sant Francesc, Barri Gotic, Barcelona [enlarge]

This is a tiny square, in fact it does not have width enough to be called so, along Carrer d'Aglà in Barri Gotic, Barcelona. Check the map below. There are some interesting bars on the area like Pilé 43 near Carrer dels Escudellers where you can have some mojitos and enjoy the retro decoration which is on sale by the way. But I digress. Most of all I wanted to include another front door street art sample in the neighborhood and perhaps highlight the beauty of the upper part of the image.

Placeta de Sant Francesc on Google Maps

November 03, 2009

Opuntia ficus indica: Cactus Figs - Higos Chumbos

Opuntia ficus indica: Cactus Figs - Higos Chumbos [enlarge]

Here are some Cactus Figs, Indian Figs, Tunas or as we know them in Spanish, Higos Chumbos. A lot of names to designate a delicious fruit that oddly enough comes out of Opuntia ficus-indica, a cactus. This is one good example of specialization, of survival in extreme conditions, one of those wonders of mother nature.

Would you expect to get food out a cactus!? I mean, imagine you are a primitive man, you are starving and you get lost in the Sonoran desert. You know that you should not try any odd beautiful fruit or plant cause previous experience tells you that it could be dangerous. You probably get to smell it, lick it but finally the spines make you change your mind. I have always wondered who was the first to try so and so, say, eating an octopus or a snail or a swallow's nest or a shark's fin!? They say cattle have a knack for this plant once farmers burn it to get rid of the sharp points.

I suppose no one got rid of the spines for us in the past, or was it a lightning perhaps, maybe a suicidal cow who dared to chew on it or why not, the blasting jet of a mysterious alien mothership? I have read that in Mexico you do not only eat the fruit but also the young pads called nopales before they grow the spines of course and have them with eggs and jalapeños for example.

In southern Spain higos chumbos grow in the wild as they have this incredible ability to multiply out of any small fragment but there are also extensive crops. Take for example the case of Murcia where almost 200 tons of tunas are harvested every year. The plant has some medicinal properties too as it contains a mucilaginous substance good to treat nausea, headaches, fever, arthritis, constipation, asthma, burns, stomach-ache and a long etc, it even served as a remedy to fight scurvy during long sea journeys. Besides, there are lots of recipes for both sweet and savory dishes.

I just wanted to show you how they looked at La Boqueria market and to let you know that it is quite common to find them when you travel around Spain. Care for a bite?

November 01, 2009

Hospital de Sant Pau: Modernista Turret

Hospital de Sant Pau: Modernista Turret in Modernist Complex or recinte modernista de Sant Pau

To welcome the new week enjoy this beautiful modernista turret inside Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau many times featured in this blog.

If you want to know more check previous posts by using Sant Pau label below

October 30, 2009

A Song to Maremagnum

Guitar player at Maremagnum bridge [enlarge]

On the bridge to Maremagnum center there are numerous opportunities for interesting photographs. Many people stretch along the brim of the wooden planks looking both ways, the busier side where sightseeing boats and distant cruisers come and go or this part, where the marina is, much more idyllic and inspirational. Take a look at this musician in his solitude with no one but the boats, his guitar and of course me, annoying as a greedy seagull.

October 28, 2009

Gills - Corvina Fish, La Boqueria, Barcelona

Gills - Corvina Fish, La Boqueria, Barcelona

Today, another dead fish and for a change in La Boqueria market. Yep, posts are somehow fishy lately. Well, fishmongers must be glad, ichthyologists not much, and Barcelona fans, eager to watch other hot spots in the city, rather disappointed. I found the gills of this fabulous corvina extremely attractive so I thought, what the heck, one more for the blog before I say, so long and thanks for all the fish!

October 27, 2009

Tapa or Pintxo? What's in a Name?

tapa,pincho,pintxo [enlarge]

Allow me to use two words to refer to this small serving. As I mentioned in a previous post according to the region you are visiting in this multicultural concoction known by many as Spain, you would call this slice of bread holding a given combination of ingredients, either tapa or pincho. If it carries a toothpick it is certainly a pincho but either way it is a kind of tapa. According to the Real Academia de la Lengua dictionary a Pincho is a small portion of food taken as an appetizer sometimes pierced with a toothpick while Tapa is a small portion of food served as an accompaniment to a drink. Considering such "subtle" difference, a tapa refers to anything small you have while you drink and a pincho does not imply a drink (hard to believe!) and may carry a stick on it (sometimes!). You see, our dictionary does not help much. Well, a pincho or pintxo has to do more with Northern Spain (the Basque country, Navarre, Cantabria, etc) although you may find they call it so in other regions as well. The way I see it, tapa is a more general term that may include larger portions, whether pierced by a toothpick or not but you know what? some pintxos are served on a roll or with no bread at all and even without the toothpick! So there we go again! As you know language is alive and a dictionary just tries to make rules out of common usage. In real life concepts are not that strict. Don't be surprised when you find it hard to decide upon one word or the other and you hear "give me a tapa of jamón" and "a pincho de tortilla".

We went to this Basque restaurant, called Sagardi, where I had a reasonable amount of pintxos like one of these of shrimp and red pepper. In Barcelona pintxos are never as good as in San Sebastian, Bilbao et al. We are aware of that but we look the other way. Most clients already know how a pintxo should look and taste, cause they have been up North and have had a great time there, hopping from place to place in renown streets full of pintxo bars. But we accept the fact, pay more and dream about our next trip to the land of pintxos. Those of you who never tried them before are surely missing one of the greatest culinary experiences you can think of not just because of the quality of the product and the way it is presented but also because of the ritual behind it, the social aspect of going for and sharing around pintxos. As I said, Barcelona is not the perfect place for what is known strictly as pintxos. We have a whole bunch of extraordinary tapas bars but for us going for pintxos is not a way of life if you know what I mean. In the Basque country there are annual competitions of pintxo bars, everyone wants to serve the best pintxo cause positive word-of-mouth communication really makes the difference. Good pintxo fans travel together in groups and have a route of their own with an expert eye for the best choice so guess how important it is to have a good reputation and deliver quality service.

How it works?: Ask the waiter for an empty dish and order your drink of course (I prefer cider or sometimes a glass of txakoli which is a young white wine) and then start "fighting" with other clients in your quest for the best pintxos properly displayed in comfortable self service lid covered glass shelves or conveniently distributed all over the counter and constantly refurbished with an extraordinary amount of possible combinations of food. Take as many as you wish but never throw the toothpick. You ought to keep those on your dish so you can tell the waiter how many pintxos you had when you ask for the bill. If you want to know more and choose your own route or find the best tapa/pintxo try: Todo Pintxos.

October 22, 2009

Straws - La Boqueria Market

Juice with colorful straws at Sant Josep Market or La Boqueria Marquet in Barcelona

Whoever has visited La Boqueria market has probably seen the attractive display of colorful straws on the chilled glasses of orange juice.

I have to confess I rarely try one of those. You know, locals sometimes avoid the obvious specially when we think something is too much tourist-oriented. But one thing is certain, the presentation is fantastic and not just because some straws match FC Barcelona soccer team colors but also because of the perfect arrangement, the ice, the froth and the smell of fresh fruit.

In fact, I think I am being pretty unfair and stubborn in this case. Whatever you do, please don't miss this stall at the very entrance of La Boqueria market. Take a break and enjoy a refreshing glass of juice à ma santé!

October 21, 2009

Ficomic, Carrer Palau 4, Barcelona: Street Art on Door

Ficomic, Carrer Palau 4, Barcelona

On one of my photo walks in search for street art I found this beautiful work on a wooden door. I simply took the picture unknowingly of the relevance of the place. At home, and upon zooming in I found that little black sign on the right that says: Ficomic and a small one in white that read, Palau 4 entlo. 1. So far so good. I googled up the company's web and learned that they organize the Salón del Cómic de Barcelona and Salón del Manga both events having great significance in the cultural agenda of the city. So I hope this artsy door acquires the relevance it deserves.

October 20, 2009

Barcelona Wine Stores: El Celler de la Boqueria

Barcelona Wine Stores: El Celler de la Boqueria [enlarge]

El Celler de la Boqueria (Cat. for cellar) is one of those small businesses surrounding La Boqueria stalls that you should bear in mind when visiting this famous Barcelona market. The place is run by the second generation in a family of wine connoisseurs with over 40 years experience. And I won't say more because I don't mean to advertise the shop but to sell the excellence of the Spanish and Catalan wines showcased in this beautiful corner of La Boqueria.

October 18, 2009

Seafood Stand, Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Seafood Stand, Boqueria Market, Barcelona [enlarge]

Yesterday, I went to La Boqueria market and took some more pictures. For those who were interested in images that were more on the report side and less on the artistic one here is a general view of a seafood stand. There are others with more fish but I thought you would like to see the shells and some people buying stuff. Once more, there's a contradiction here: my first impulse would be to show only those beautiful gigantic shells from a close distance but you want to see more of the market. I understand. Maybe a little bit of everything is better. When you capture all the scene then you start getting some noise, like a bottle, a box, people talking on the right, a man turning his back on us, etc. But then again this blog is meant to please you more than myself. If not it would be a monologue.

October 15, 2009

Barcelona, the City that Still Remains

Barcelona and Hills as seen from Montjuic [enlarge]

There are cities that are in the middle of nowhere, secluded in secret valleys, or hidden in impossible ravines. Cities that talk about their past, a past of conquest, of war, cities that in general tend to be at the very center of their vast territory as in fear of raids led by the many enemies their glorious exploits gained. But there are quieter urbs that make us think of more bucolic scenes, of meadows, of water springs, of good spirits and the smell of incense, spices and saltpeter, a city between two rivers, a Mediterranean metropolis the Romans once called Barcino, surrounded by gentle hills that any hostile horde could easily invade but that still lies in the very endroit parfait its founders sought for her against all odds, all greed, all plagues: the city of Barcelona.

October 14, 2009

Montserrat: The Serrated Mountain

Montserrat near Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

One of the most distinctive features of Montserrat mountain range is its jagged, serrated silhouette (mont + serrat). The eroded conglomerate formations made of sedimentary rock in this natural park near Barcelona can be seen from the distance. When you approach the menhir-like tips you have this strange feeling of entering some kind of magic world, an impossible landscape in which Mother Nature invested a great deal of imagination. Besides the compulsory visit to Montserrat monastery, and if you have time enough to trek in the area, do check other routes organized by towns spread all over the mountain slopes. To give you just an example: How to get to St. Benet Monastery (above in the image) departing from Monistrol de Montserrat. More details here: Monastery of St. Benet

October 12, 2009

Catalan Dance - Pubilla and Hereu

Catalan Folk Dance of Pubilles and Hereus

Some time ago families with no sons considered their first born daughter to be their heiress. In case there were several daughters, the pubilla, as so was called the heiress, would keep three thirds of the family's patrimony leaving the rest for her sisters. She had the right to change her descendants' last name in order not to lose their family name. But, if the child was a male, he was automatically considered to be the hereu (heir). There was no room for gender equalities back then and the topic unfortunately lingers in our modern societies.

Nowadays although the tradition is gone, cultural organizations in Catalonia support the appointment of pubillas and hereus to officially represent their town in a symbolic way. The chosen ones participate in public activities as such and it is really an honor for them. 

Being a pubilla or an hereu only happens once and it will last just one year. As to my image which was taken at Monistrol de Montserrat near Barcelona, I would like to say that I was instantly trapped in the magic of the pose, the arm, the fishnet gloves (mitenes) and the hair net (gallana). These two elements are also part of the traditional Catalan dress so they may be just dancers but I wanted to talk about Catalan traditions. 

I hope you like the old photo effect to give it some historic mood.

October 08, 2009

A Painter's Abstraction

A Painter's Abstraction [enlarge]

Judging by this painter's canvas it might seem the picture is an abstraction. From my position, he seemed to be portraying a totally different scene. Considering the brush, this was merely the background, the first strokes on his sketch. It is hard for me to tell whether this is going to be an exact reproduction of the bar's terrace or a free approach although on the left side, next to his shoulder we can clearly see two or three well outlined heads. Maybe someone among you is more familiar with painting and could talk about this part of the process. As to my image. I don't like to play too much with the color on black and white effect but I wanted to highlight the notion of a new reality created out nothing, from pure black and white into a striking colorful canvas: abstract or realistic.

October 07, 2009

Flower Macro: Phlox?

Flower Macro: Phlox? [enlarge]

Almost two years ago I posted the same flowers and wasn't able to classify them myself. I asked for help. It came out that those flowers maybe were some kind of Phlox. This plant is common in Barcelona parks and gardens but I am a mess when it comes to botany. Maybe someone can find the exact name.

October 06, 2009

Lycopersicon esculentum: Tomato

Lycopersicon esculentum: Tomato [enlarge]

Lycopersicon esculentum Montserrat is what is commonly known as Tomaquet de Montserrat. Remember I am not a botanist though. I bought them as Montserrat tomatoes but this one in particular has a peculiar shape which makes me doubt. The point is that it is a juicy tomato and it cost me about 3 EUR. So as you can guess, it is great! Guess what, I got it for the picture. My wife has been two days waiting for me to shoot till finally today in the evening we made some tasty salad. They are really worth the money. For more clues, we bought them at Horta market although you can find them elsewhere in Catalonia.

October 05, 2009

Jota Players: Old Mates

Jota Players: Old Mates

This image I rescued from my archives. Two jota players dressed in traditional costumes from the Spanish region of Aragon. I liked the expression on their faces and really enjoyed their professional performance in Barcelona. I covered this show here in the past: Spanish Traditional Dance: The Jota (three more links in that post)

October 04, 2009

Boqueria Candy

Candy Stall at La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Just a picture for the weekend. Sweet thoughts! Get lost in the magic of La Boqueria market and concentrate on candy like this cute girl is doing.

October 02, 2009

Flower Abstraction: Complementary Colors

Flower Abstraction: Complementary Colors [enlarge]

Not exactly an abstraction cause the flower is still a flower. I guess I should have called this, an outburst of color rebellion. The fact is I had a dull macro of this big flower that would have never made it to this blog unless it underwent some drastic editing. I remember I had a similar post called Jazzy Yellow Flower in Barcelona Psychedelic Garden, where I experimented with complimentary colors so I felt like repeating myself just for the sake of aesthetics and out of boredom. Have a nice weekend.

September 30, 2009

Labor Sculpture at Catalonia Square, Barcelona

Labor Sculpture at Catalonia Square, Barcelona [enlarge]

Trabajo, so reads the pedestal under this fabulous sculpture (Miguel Oslé 1929) at Plaça Catalunya. Labor, work, job, occupation, employment...oh, what a beautiful word! To obtain retribution for your services, to work for wages. An activity we tend to complain about specially if monotonous or stressing. We often wonder why the heck we are supposed to devote most of our precious time to matters that apparently are not related to our aspirations in this world. But nevertheless work is a right, it is said to dignify you as a person, to purify your soul in a certain way. As you can see there's not only a philosophical connotation behind the word but also a religious one. Toil gives meaning to life or so they say. It is true that when you are proud of your work there is a certain something inside your mind that says: you are doing right. Our humanity, our civilization, our evolution is tightly linked to work, tools, interaction for the benefit of the group and ourselves as individuals. Consequently, if this is so deep rooted in our nature, so good for the soul, so spiritual and vital for our existence, then how come there is unemployment, how come are we deprived of such rewarding activity? The question is of course rather naive but I can't help feeling baffled by the absurdities of us, "humans". More Wisdom and less capitalism.

September 29, 2009

Metronome: Tempo in Beats Per Minute

Metronome detail [enlarge]

Tick tock, tick tock...monotonously goes the pendulum in the metronome. BPM or beats per minute, a unit not only measuring tempo in music but also something so vital as our own heart rate.

..."now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage."

..."I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder!"

The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allan Poe

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