Barcelona Photoblog: October 2009

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.

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