Barcelona Photoblog: 2011

December 28, 2011

2012, New Plans: My Family

Makeup: Stark Staring

The new year is around the corner one more time and in these times of crisis, we should invest in more secure markets, some prefer gold, I prefer my family. Here's my daughter impersonating the black swan I think. Watching them grow to become teens, watching their ambitions, their plans for the future does make you wish for a better world, for a happy new year! Come to think of it that is all we've got that really matters, our family, our friends.

December 20, 2011

Catalan Modernisme: Cal Calixto, 26 Calle de la Diputación, Sant Sadurni D'Anoia

Stained Glass balcony at Cal Calixtus house, Sant Sadurni D'Anoia

This beautiful balcony partly covered in stained glass can be admired on a house at 26 Calle de la Diputación in Sant Sadurni D'Anoia not far away from Cavas de Freixenet, the renown Catalan cava cellars. This is the exact spot in town to find Cal Calixtus (1885) which is the name of this beautiful sample of Catalan modernisme.

December 14, 2011

The Three Chimneys of Fecsa's Thermoelectric Plant in Barcelona

Three Towers, Fecsa, Sant Adria, Barcelona

The Three Chimneys or Towers of Fecsa's old power plant which are visible from almost every spot in the city of Barcelona have been featured in Barcelona Photoblog in the past: The Three Chimneys in Sant Adria del Besos so I will not repeat the content of that post.

In this case I only want to say that even though they are obsolete and not meant to last for too long now, they have this ominous and mysterious look at dusk.

December 07, 2011

What Will Cagatio Bring For Christmas?


El Tio de Nadal or Cagatio (Christmas log, pooping log or shit log) a piece of wood that kids hit on Christmas eve or Christmas day with a stick so it poops presents to the beat of a monotonous song (here is a good example of Caga Tio found on Youtube), is deep rooted in Catalan traditions and strangely blends with imported gift couriers like Santa or the Three Wise Men, and being just a log and all, the point is that it surely is time enduring. It has even evolved from just a simple wooden block to a smiling face wearing a Catalan hat (barretina).

But why am I talking about Christmas presents and Tió so early in December? You should know that our pooping log is to be fed and taken care of in advance (starting Advent for many people or by Immaculate Conception Day on December 8 for some) should you want to have good presents by Christmas (usually it delivers just candies, nougat, sweet stuff till it starts pooping odd things like herring, coal, garlic, onion which are a clear sign for kids to stop asking). Hitting a log and getting gifts back in return is kind of a contradiction, a rather violent thing to teach a child you might say. There are opinions about this. It seems that this is due to the fact that at present, in those houses where there is no fireplace, the beating is just an imitation of the act of poking the fire but I am not sure children are aware of that. Tió, really means, any thick log cut into pieces to feed a fire. And it is meant to be burnt a little for the gifts to start showing.

By now, you have figured out what Caga Tió will bring for Christmas if handled with care, if well fed and protected under its comfortable blanket by the fire. However, I wonder, in these times of global crisis, in this period of domestic chaos, of intestine struggle between right and left, rich and poor, banks and indebted citizens, what a log can poo, other than disenchantment.

November 22, 2011

Gaudi Chimneys: The Amazing Surreal Shapes of Catalan Art Nouveau

Amazing Chimneys on the roof of Casa Mila or La Pedrera building by Antoni Gaudi
Chimneys by Gaudi - Casa Mila aka La Pedrera's Roof

When you step into Casa Mila's rooftop, you enter a surreal realm of uncanny figures begotten in the womb of some eerie creature or conceived in the unfathomable labyrinth of a very insane but wise mind, figures that remind alien chrysalids about to eclose or deceiving chess pieces that seem to move ominously behind your back.

Apparently they are only chimneys but definitely there is something mysterious about them, as if they had been alive and were now under some spell. Some may resemble totems, others look vigilant towards the horizon like soldiers watching from the battlements of some medieval castle. Many interpretations are possible here. Whatever your appreciation is in the end, you certainly will not remain indifferent.

November 17, 2011

Dry Reeds on Delta de L'Ebre Beach, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

Reed root abstraction on Delta de l' Ebre beach, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

Sometimes an abstraction can be created out of the most unusual things. It is all in your head or on many occasions inside mother nature's head which is more complex and experienced. Any odd root, next to the soil where it is supposed to grow is no big deal but what if we put it upside down against a seascape? It is very common to find dry reeds along L'Illa de Buda beach, Deltebre, Tarragona but this sort of Martian scene, is in fact part of a natural park, 320 km² of wetland on the Mediterranean coast which is a paradise for birds and well known for its rice crops, its paellas and the history behind agricultural villages near Ebro river mouth.

November 08, 2011

Trencadis Detail: Z, La Pedrera, Barcelona

Trencadis detail at La Pedrera [enlarge]

Shards of tile, irregularly distributed creating harmony out of an apparent mess. Somewhere some symbols may be found left behind by the artist on the tile. This a detail of one of those chimneys on La Pedrera or Casa Mila's roof. If you want to see how trencadis looks here is an arch found on the same roof. Soon, more details.

November 02, 2011

Trencadis Butterfly at Casa Fajol next to B Hotel in Barcelona

Casa de la Papallona next to B-Hotel as shot from Las Arenas leisure center [enlarge]

How can a place evolve so much, how can you witness the pass of time by taking a glimpse at just one odd corner of your city? You can easily guess in this picture which building came first: yes, Casa Fajol also known as Casa de la Papallona (Catalan word for butterfly) dating back to 1912. Is it possible to combine historic buildings with a touristic resort and a leisure center? Well, our architects do think so, and who are we to contradict their expertise. In 2005 they built a 3 star hotel (B-Hotel), with a fantastic swimming pool overlooking Plaza Espanya and Fira de Barcelona, that our butterfly almost touches with her antennae. That must be good for our visitors, a room with a view over our culture. But why not framing the whole scene from the platform of a brand new leisure center like Las Arenas literally rising over an old bull ring to really appreciate the clash of styles? Barcelona is the perfect spot.

Disclaimer: This post is meant to bring debate over architectural topics, culture and the pass of time and is not interested whatsoever in what should have been done or who is to blame for such contrasts.

October 24, 2011

Cava Bottles at Freixenet Cellars

Cava Bottles at Freixenet cellars [enlarge]

Some cava bottles (Catalan 'champagne') on a rack, at Freixenet cellars in Sant Sadurni de Anoia. More to come in next posts.

October 15, 2011

Rusty Nail on Old Beam

Rusty Nail on Wooden Surface [enlarge]

This nail, bolt, stud or whatever the rusty thing might be called, was piercing a very old beam outside a famous Cava (Catalan 'champagne') company which I plan to feature in coming posts. Being passionate about rust and textures in general, I thought this image was a good way to introduce tomorrow's story. Enjoy the week-end everyone! Don't forget the big picture! (click on the image)

October 11, 2011

Lupin Beans or Altramuces Pickled in Brine.

Lupine or Altramuz [enlarge]
White Lupins (Lupinus albus) or Altramuces are normally taken as a pickled snack food that accompanies beer in Spanish bars, as for example in Andalusia. It is very nutritious although I don't like it much. I've read it is rich in protein. I still think they taste bitter. Sorry for not being very talkative today.

October 05, 2011

Flamenco Dancers and the Photographic Process

Flamenco Dancers [enlarge]
There comes a time you really don't know what to do with a picture that went wrong somehow. Shall I use BW or sepia? Or shall I be bold enough to simply post it as is? There are purists and photo editing enthusiasts and everyone must cast their verdict but in the end the first person to be happy with the result must be you. Maybe not everything you do may be accepted as art, but as part of a creative process, photography, no matter how realistic it might be, implies perception, inspiration, technique and that mysterious magic nobody teaches you at school. Have you seen a child's face showing you that simple drawing you already discarded as too rudimentary? Did you notice how proud your kid was? Are you sure you saw all you had to see? Would two different people value the drawing the same way? What I want to say is that the important thing is to say something, convey your message based upon your own experience and reality. Where was I? Oh, yes. Here is a group of flamenco dancers each of them in what I thought was an interesting pose. The texture is just an additive to give some mood. I am not sure where I was heading to but had a good time editing!

October 02, 2011

Plaza Espanya: A Neuralgic Spot in Barcelona City

Plaça Espanya or Plaza España, Barcelona [enlarge] 
Here is a panoramic view of Plaza España (sp) or Plaça d'Espanya (cat). The name of the place has been mispelled on purpose in the title of this post cause Google seems to have problems with Ç and Ñ, two letters that you won't find in an English keyboard. In fact it is possible that you are not able to see them while you read this article. I digress. Plaza Espanya is a neuralgic spot in the city of Barcelona for several reasons: it is an important crossroads connecting important streets like Gran Via, Avinguda del Paral-lel and Carrer de Tarragona among others (Plaza Espanya on Google Maps); it is next to the Fira de Barcelona area, where important trade fairs take place every year; it is the main access to Montjuic fountains and Palau Nacional where MNAC museum is; La Merce celebrations are held here and in the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina which is that promenade behind the two Venetian towers in the background. Plaça Espanya was built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. It is said that this very spot witnessed many public executions back in the XVII century. Recently the whole place has gained relevance due to the inauguration of Las Arenas center from where I took this picture. Don't forget to click on the image for a larger view!

August 29, 2011

Las Arenas in Barcelona, From Bullring to Shopping Center

Las Arenas Shopping Mall by Richard Rogers

Inaugurated back in March, 2011 Las Arenas de Barcelona shopping center that arose from the "ashes" of an old bullring is clearly one the best examples of modern architecture in Barcelona.

I took some more pictures of the surroundings and from above that I will post someday but not too many of the building as such. Maybe this link to a gallery published in the Guardian portraying Las Arenas before and after helps.

A long time ago, when this project was starting I published a couple of images where you could see the whole building held above the ground by a steel framework: Las Arenas bullring in Plaça Espanya and Las Arenas: A Historic Barcelona Bullring to Become a Leisure Center. The posts are so old that some links are not working.

Learn more about this project's architect, Richard Rogers.

Las Arenas has 105.000 sq meters of retail and leisure. 12 movie theaters. A fully equipped gym, including a jogging track. A wonderful 360 degree platform around the dome to enjoy one of the best panoramic views of Barcelona city, especially Plaza España and the fountains of Montjuic.

I suppose the place will be crammed packed for La Merce celebrations in September.

Find here the Las Arenas shopping centre's main site, unfortunately just in Spanish.

July 31, 2011

From my Window: Heavy Storm in Barcelona

Stormy clouds, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Apocalyptic weather, ominous skies, gusty winds with hail hitting on windows, branches violently torn off  nearby trees and hundreds of calls for help received at the fire department. It all took but one hour although it seemed like a cyclone or the arrival of a tornado. I was afraid the window pane got broken or something. I even saw a pigeon caught in mid air by the winds fighting its way to the nearest cornice unsuccessfully. And suddenly the heavy rains ceased and the sun appeared joyfully amidst the scurrying clouds. Too extreme weather for this part of the world I guess. Here is another example caught from my window in the past.

July 26, 2011

Bar Terrace at Sant Felip de Neri Square in Barcelona, Spain

Bar Terrace at Sant Felip de Neri Square in Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Bar terraces abound in Barcelona but not all of them are so quiet like this at Sant Felip de Neri square in Barri Gotic and that belongs to Hotel Neri. Besides the evident beauty of the whole square, the central fountain, the baroque church of San Felip Neri and all the history behind this mysterious and charming spot of Barcelona I have to mention that in this very spot you are watching in the picture, Woody Allen shot one the scenes of the Vicky Cristina movie. I haven't seen it and although I like his work I guess I didn't miss much, but I realize Woody has great taste for locations and for actresses like...Scarlett Johansson. With all due respect I don't like Pe. Watch this video featuring Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

July 17, 2011

Ethnic Clothing in Barcelona Streets

Purple ethnic dress, Portal del Angel,Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

I am no clothing expert and when I shoot maybe I look for a certain expression or a peculiar scene and not for how people are dressed, well, not that often I mean. This is not a fashion blog. But I reckon sometimes some colors are striking and even certain dresses stand out in the crowd. This is what looks like an Indian dress or something but don't take my word on that. If you are interested in older posts related to colorful dresses you can check these: Bollywood Dance or Punjabi Dress

No matter how misinformed I am about this topic, I am really glad we have such cultural diversity in Barcelona.

July 11, 2011

Ferretti Ice cream Shop in Barcelona: The Flavored Colors of Summer

Ferretti ice cream shop in Barcelona

Nothing like indulging in the lusty flavors of a given ice cream when the summer time comes.

There are lots of delicious small temptations to try during the season, but certainly there is nothing so voluptuous like a tasty ice cream. Choosing our flavor, while swimming in a sea of hedonist stimuli provoked by so many flashy colors, each of them recalling a story in the back of our mind, is by far one of the most intense food-triggered experiences of our life.

This Ferretti ice cream shop called my attention while walking the streets of Barri Gotic (carrer Boters 8 near Plaza de la Catedral). Nothing special to it except this franchise sells homemade ice cream or artisan gelato and that my friends is a luxury nowadays.

You can check a review of Ferretti in Foursquare. For more genuine Italian gelatos read this other post:
Where to have the best real Italian ice creams in Barcelona

July 05, 2011

Jack Nicholson in Papier Mache, Barcelona, Barri Gotic

Jack Nicholson in Paper Mache at Barcelona Shop

Yet another famous actor in papier mache at the same shop at carrer del Bisbe, near Plaça Sant Jaume in Barri Gotic, Barcelona, the one and only, Mr. Jack Nicholson with his eternal smile.

Dr. House who appeared in a very successful post here in Barcelona Photoblog in the past, has been moved as you see to a less favorable place in the display.

June 27, 2011

Sant Felip Neri Square, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Plaza Sant Felip Neri in Barcelona

This is Plaça Sant Felip Neri, a small and very quiet square in Barri Gotic, Barcelona.

If you go up Carrer del Bisbe and take the narrow street on the corner of the archbishopric to the right, you will come across an archway that leads to this magical spot protected by leafy trees pierced here and there by beams of light that hit directly on the fountain you see in the picture (check location of Felip Neri square here).

The place holds the church of the Congregation of the Oratory of Barcelona founded in 1673 by Oleguer de Monserrat, a priest that had been in touch with the Oratory of Sant Felip Neri during his stay in Rome.

You should know that during the Spanish Civil War the square was bombed and the blast was so powerful that three houses, the church and the convent received considerable damage, up to the point that the iron doors of the church fell on the presbytery.There are still marks on the walls reminding us of such terrible events. What a contrast with the peaceful atmosphere you breathe in this quiet recess far from the mundane noise of neighboring alleys.

June 26, 2011

Sleeping on the Streets of Barcelona

Sleeping on bench, Portal de l'Angel, Barcelona [enlarge]

I am not sure about the status of this guy. I don't know whether he is homeless, drunk, a combination of the two or simply an intoxicated tourist who knows? I just noticed there was a wonderful light falling on him while lying there on that granite bench at Portal de l'Angel street in Barcelona, one of the richest streets in Spain. In spite of the Starbucks coffee on the right, the scene has this sort of religious mood at least for me, don't ask me why.

June 24, 2011

African Top Manta Hawkers in Barcelona

African Top Manta Hawkers in Barcelona [enlarge]

It is not unusual to find African hawkers selling false Louis Vuitton and Carolina Herrera handbags in Barcelona. Holding the ropes tied to their blankets (sp. manta) they quickly pick up the merchandise in case the police show up. This picture was taken at Passeig de Gracia although it could have been taken anywhere in the city.

Note: I recently improved my gear. I was in love with my Nikon D70s but I got a brand new D7000 (bought in the US cheaper). I am trying to get used to all the new features but man, am I happy! I hope the new stimulus makes me publish more frequently.

June 19, 2011

Watching Barcelona Leaves a Tattoo Engraved in Your Memories

Tattoo, Mirador de l'Alcalde, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Like I said, the beauty of Barcelona city as seen from Mirador del Alcalde in Montjuic mountain overlooking the metropolitan area will leave some good memories in your mind maybe as colorful as the wonderful tattoos shining bright on this girl's shoulders.

June 11, 2011

Guided Bike Tours In and Around Barcelona: Discovering Passeig de Gracia

Guided Bike Tours In and Around Barcelona, Spain

Although not precisely a bicycle enthusiast and certainly not an expert rider, I must admit that it must be a thrill moving around Barcelona on a bike. The more bicycle friendly the city gets the more frequent it is to find groups of riders exploring not only the small alleys of the old part of town but also big arteries like Passeig de Gracia (picture).

There are several companies providing this guided tour services in Barcelona. You can easily see the name of the agency on the guide's T-shirt (Barcelona Ciclo Tours), but of course you have a great selection where to choose from. Here is a good list of bike rentals in Barcelona.

June 01, 2011

Pa de Pages, Our Modest Catalan Bread

Pa de Pages, Vic, Catalonia

In Catalonia when we make things we make it big like say, this modest, tiny, insignificant bread. Hansel and Gretel would have had bread crumbs enough to leave a generous trail behind them, feed the birds and make a nice toast at the end of the road. Pa de Pages is, I quote: "...a rustic round loaf, baked in a shaped tin, containing wheat flour, water, salt and starter dough. It has a generous crumb and thick crust. The body of the bread is dense and rich in flavour, and it can be kept for several days providing that it is bought unsliced..." ( I recommend you browse this interesting site to find a quite complete compilation of Catalan products and recipes.

May 24, 2011

Tools, Vic, Barcelona


Anvil and hammer. Two tools that changed the history of men. This picture was taken in Vic at a local fair. Sorry I haven't been around here lately. I have not forgotten about the blog. It's just that I am too busy, not so much to post but to take pictures. Anyway I'll keep trying.

May 16, 2011

Delishop, Mallorca 241, L'Eixample, Barcelona

Delishop, Mallorca 241, L'Eixample, Barcelona [enlarge]

Sometimes it is hard to talk to you about nice shops in Barcelona without making the whole post look like a commercial. This is not an ad. You have my word on that. When I browse for places I would love to visit I enjoy reading about interesting spots and I really don't mind some promotion in posts as long as I don't smell the money. Not that I wouldn't accept it here but I prefer sponsoring on the sidebar better than an advertisement-ridden content. Once said that, allow me to show you this snapshot taken at the Delishop at carrer Mallorca right before the clerk turned his back to ask me if he could be of help. The place has nothing special to it except for the looks and that practicality implied in a take away. And that is precisely why I love the place. It is on my way to work and it comes handy when I am in a hurry. Service is good and food is properly displayed. I thought it was a very big franchise but upon visiting their web I found that they are just a couple of young entrepreneurs with an interesting story behind. I guess that made me like the place even more. Now that I give them good reviews why not suggesting the link, don't you think? Maybe I can get my chicken rolls for free!: Delishop, Mallorca 241

Note: I am really interested in knowing your opinion about giving helpful reviews and tips in Barcelona Photoblog the way a travel guide would do or not. I mean, taking pictures inside places and giving my opinion now and then against the usual neutrality of my posts in that sense. Do you have the same problem in your blogs?

May 09, 2011

Skateboard Pals, Passeig de Lluis Companys, Barcelona

Skateboarders, Passeig de Lluis Companys, Barcelona [enlarge]

Skateboard pals, taking a breath under one of those beautiful modernist lamps at Passeig de Lluis Companys in Barcelona. I have been out for some days so forgive me for leaving the blog a little unattended. It is great to rest for a while along the way. Next month I change gear so I hope photographs come out more frequently and improve a little a bit. Of course, the gear is no guarantee to take good pictures. That, I'll have to learn in the long run.

May 05, 2011

Outdoor BBQ Grill, Deltebre, Catalonia, Spain

Outdoor BBQ Grill, Deltebre, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

A scene I found interesting the other day at the beach. An outdoor barbecue grill very near the water at Illa de Buda in Delta de l'Ebre. It is easy to find places like this in Catalonia but they are usually inland. There is a whole ritual around making fire and cooking around such public grills. You usually bring your own meat or fish and you can buy wood or coal at some facility nearby. Like it happens in most barbecues, the fact of gathering several people around the fire be it friends or members of the family turns it into a social event that may include not just the desired lunch but games like soccer, cards, parcheesi, etc. Besides showing you how these public BBQ grills are, I was interested in those people concentrated on the fire, the smoke spreading all over the place and that guy going towards the beach that of course has nothing to do with the barbeque but contributes to the depth to the image.

May 02, 2011

Fishing Lead, Delta de l'Ebre, Tarragona, Catalonia

Fishing Lead, Delta d'Ebre, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

Nothing you haven't seen before. Just a fishing lead hanging from a rod and a beach. Although this activity is regulated and there are certain hours and areas to fish, walking under a nylon line along the shore is something very common here. I only tried fishing once to find out I am not patient enough and I am more of the diving kind. If you ever went snorkeling, you probably have watched through the goggles at that man on the pier, wasting bait totally unaware of the deserted underwater prairie you have the privilege to explore. But fishing rods have that certain romantic look, they are part of the landscape, just like fishermen boats are in a painting and they meet their purpose which is, triggering a hypnotic status in the mind of the fisher-to-be. Maybe the most interesting thing here is the location, a wonderful natural park with wild beaches called Delta de l'Ebre, in the province of Tarragona, Catalonia. Towns nearby are popular among other things for the fantastic paellas, smoked eel tapas, frog legs, angulas (young eels), etc.

April 26, 2011

Faithful Friends, Passeig de Lluis Companys, Barcelona

Faithful Friends, Passeig de Lluis Companys, Barcelona

Friendship, love, hate, happiness or sadness are a universal asset, inherent to the human race. Friendship knows no creed. Anyone that is able to love, to be kind, to do good, to cultivate friendship is a person and not "the source of all evil". We tend to stigmatize religion, we foolishly fear the unknown, people that look different.

These two Muslim women, for example, covered with what we, out of our own ignorance, would refer to as just "a beautiful piece of cloth", are in fact wearing one of the many types of Hijab as part of their own traditions. Nonetheless, very often they are looked over the shoulder by many and are generally misjudged by the western world.

If I look underneath their headscarves, I just see two wonderful friends, maybe more valuable as persons than many ignorant racists of the so called First World. This is a delicate issue and perhaps the mere fact of musing on it sounds silly or irreverent. My anticipated apologies for that. By the way, let's not forget that other well known "good citizens" of this planet wear or have worn a veil and nobody ever cared. So this is another example of how absurd a debate (the use of the Hijab) can get to be. The picture was taken at Passeig de Lluis Companys, Barcelona.

Update: According to Gurvinder in the comments below (thanks!), these women are Sikh so they are wearing Chunni or Dupatta. If that is the case, this is proof of my poor and shortsighted "Western" approach to the matter. Sikh or Muslim, my point about racism is still valid.

April 17, 2011

Forest Fire in Collserola Mountain, Barcelona


Watching a forest fire from your own window is one of the saddest views you could ever have. This afternoon a small fire swallowed part of the woods on this hill at Collserola mountain. Now that I write this, at night, everything seems to be under control, but mother nature is not always that lucky. It is true that many forest fires start by a mere accident, like lightnings on a storm but the great majority are due to cigarette butts, bottles that act as a magnifying glass and outdoor barbecue grills which are forbidden. But the worst cause is forest arson which is probably what happened here. This is not the first time there's a fire around Barcelona, in fact one year several hills were completely devastated by the flames. The wind makes things worse and the fact the city is near is dangerous at least for those living at the slope of the mountain.

Update: April 18th: The police identifies three 14 year old teenagers as the authors of the fire yesterday Collserola Fire News in Spanish

April 15, 2011

Pottery: From Clay to Ceramics

Making pottery [enlarge]

The art of spinning a piece of clay, shaping it up with your bare hands until it becomes a jar, an amphora, a pitcher, a mug or whatever has been always a fascinating process for me. I remember pottery workshops at school and how clumsy I was. But if obtaining an object out of the blue may look mysterious in a way, placing it in a kiln to bake it is certainly magical. As usual, I wonder who was the first to have the brilliant idea of cooking a block of mud. Granted that this someone may have discovered some wet clay mound accidentally solidifying under the sun but it takes centuries to take that clay and put it in the fire to produce an object. And if that is not enough, glazing it and placing it back in the kiln to make it colorful is a great sample of the evolution of tools and skills throughout history, the history of our civilization.

April 12, 2011

Fish stall at Mercat de la Mercé, Nou Barris, Barcelona

Fish stand at La Merce market, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Who said a female fishmonger had to be rude, shabby and smelly. Well, I guess they smell of fish of course but certainly these girls have a wonderful look. I realize my comments are stupid but I wanted to muse on cliches around professions. I don't know in your country but at least here I remember one: You shout like a fishmongeress, something that of course is not always true. Maybe you can share other cliches you've heard of in your city.

April 08, 2011

Compulsive Shopping at Passeig de Gracia

Shopping at Passeig de Gracia  [enlarge]

Shopping in the most expensive street in Spain is risky for the wallet and yet there are some stores along Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona where you can adventure into compulsively squandering your monthly salary. While on a shopping spree though, it is easy to pull out the plastic magic wand usually known as Visa and also referred to by many other names with unpredictable effects. At that moment, you are the luckiest person in the world, you have overcome centuries of cash exchange to finally manage to get goods for free. But fairy tales are illusive and the fantasy created by the wand gently fades away by the end of the month. You wake up naked wearing a fig leaf, fleeing from a bunch of goons in black sent after you to gently remind you that your magic wand has been cancelled and you owe money to the bank.

April 05, 2011

Llongueras Hairdresser in Barcelona

Llongueras Hairdresser, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

I did not really know what title to choose for this image. The man facing the woman in the poster, standing under a beautiful ceiling lamp was the first thing I wanted to show but then on second thought I realized that the Llongueras hairdresser in the background, run by a well known coiffeur in the city was better for my SEO. I find this a dilemma nowadays, either you get artistic with your titles, you know, trying to express a concept with one or two words, like say, "Waiting" or you mention the obvious: "Man and Lamp". But then there is the third choice which is the most abject, trying to please search engines to stay on top. Well, I think I managed to squeeze all possible titles in the post, that is the last minute resource. The hairdresser is at Passeig de Gracia, one of the many by the same name spread around Barcelona.

April 04, 2011

Balloon Man, Barcelona, Spain

Balloon Man, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Selling balloons on the street is an occupation almost inherent to gypsies in Barcelona but this man and two other at Passeig de Lluis Companys, in the Arc de Triomf area, seemed to be Portuguese, maybe gypsies too, who knows. I suppose this activity is regulated but they always look worried and vigilant as if they were hiding from the police. To tell the truth balloons are a good treat for our eyes and if they make our kids happy, no matter how short a helium balloon's life can be, then what the heck, let them speculate a little bit. What is selling balloons compared to the subprime mortgages crisis?!!

March 30, 2011

Medieval Pottery: Evoking Ancient Crafts

Potter at work

Pottery is an art that goes hand in hand with the history of man and civilization. It is said that the first known pieces were found in Japan between 400 and 10,500 BC (see A history of Pottery). Along the way,  a slow wheel or tournette was substituted by the fast potter's wheel around 2000 BC. Potters between XIII and XV had enough tools and skills to produce house utensils and building materials on a big scale, thus developing social relationships around this market and more specialization. But I am not here to write a treaty on pottery. My mission is to attract your curiosity and pave the way to your own research on possible topics on the web. If this happy potter image in a medieval fair in Vic, triggered your intellectual hunger, then the goal has been attained. In case you want to know what the sign says in the background: Taller de fang amb aigua calenta is Catalan for clay with hot water workshop.

March 24, 2011

Bubble Dreams

Man and child making soap bubbles in Barcelona [enlarge]

This image speaks for itself so I won't bore you with the place and what was happening. Well, it was in Barcelona and there was this man making soap bubbles in front of some kids. I tried to stand behind the man so you could see what that small kid was witnessing and more or less participate in the fantasy. To us adults this may not say much but the mind of a child makes wonders with the most insignificant of things. I wish I could see this way again but it's no use. At most, I can only remember my own childhood dreams, my own bubbles, somewhere lost in time.

March 20, 2011

One Handed Handstand, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

One Handed Handstand, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona [enlarge]

Gymnastics is that stuff that always made you feel envious back at school when you saw the guy next to you showing off in front of that girl you had a crush on, easily making a handstand and walking on both hands, doing pull ups with just one arm, the flag, the L-sit, you name it. Still after so many years, this perfect one handed handstand captured today at Parc de la Ciutadella gets on my nerves and reminds me of that insane anxiety for successful mating. Now I know that there are people for everything, some for the muscle and some for the mind. And here I was lost in my thoughts, reminiscing, indulging in my past, bringing back memories...trying to stabilize the camera on my belly, watching the girls across the park drooling and sighing for the wonderful gymnast. By the way, happy Spring for those on the northern hemisphere!

March 18, 2011

Passeig de Lluís Companys and Barcelona's Arch of Triumph

Passeig de Lluis Companys and Barcelona's Arc de Triomf [enlarge]

Here is yet another angle to better appreciate Barcelona's Arch of Triumph (Arc de Triomf). This time as seen from Passeig de Lluis Companys, a great site to bask in the sun, reading under a wonderful modernista lamp, ride a bike, jog or just walk. The place has been described here in Barcelona Photoblog many times so I recommend you check these popular posts. By the way, we are having a wonderful pre-spring weekend over here, fair skies, 18º C, what else could you ask for!

March 16, 2011

Shoe Shopping in Barcelona

Shoe Shopping in Barcelona [enlarge]

Barcelona shops have been evolving from a small commerce model with scarce impact in the international arena into a more powerful network of famous brands both foreign and local which have chosen the downtown area to promote and sell their products. Passeig de Gracia for example has become the most expensive street in Barcelona and Spain partly because of the stores established along this main artery  and the success of the real state business before the crisis. I never quite understood how this process goes but money calls more money. The square meter price has skyrocketed in this part of town so only the richest can resist, the shops exhibit almost unaffordable merchandise but still somebody comes and buys it, mainly tourists with higher purchasing power and the crème de la crème of our society. Of course, you can make an exception one day and not all of them are jewelries. I guess this was not the topic that best fitted the shoe shop in the image. In fact there are many trendy and chic Barcelona shops offering attractive stuff for a reasonable price where poor mortals like us can find relief and satisfy our buying anxiety.

March 11, 2011

La Pedrera or Casa Mila: Inner Court and Air Shaft

La Pedrera or Casa Mila: Inner Court and Air Shaft [enlarge]

Casa Mila also known as La Pedrera, by Antoni Gaudi, as seen from above is a magnificent sample of fully functional organic Art Nouveau design. Notice the undulated eaves, the arched attic walls that used to hold the washrooms, the small windows not always at the same level to allow ambient light and provide ventilation for the laundry and the peculiar inner court and air shaft of the building. Perhaps you would get the mood better if you admired La Pedrera in this video on YouTube about modernista architecture in Barcelona.

March 09, 2011

Casa Mila by Gaudi: Modernist Staircase Detail

Modernist Staircase at Casa Mila, Barcelona [enlarge]

Art has many ways, just as mother nature never stops surprising us with her capricious designs. The creativity of man knows no boundaries and a good example of that is the work of Catalan genius, Antoni Gaudi. In this image, the staircase at Casa Mila also known as La Pedrera is just a staircase, a beautiful one in fact, but the handrail, oh, the wrought iron handrail is so profuse in impossible adornments, so elaborate, that it is difficult not to surrender to this architect's divine talent. Not that complex motifs were invented by him, since we have Baroque for that, but the new approach, the use of natural elements like leaves, conceived with such uncanny mathematical precision, sometimes quite hard to translate from his mind into the final piece, makes these architectural jewels unique.

March 07, 2011

Medieval Musicians at the Annual Medieval Market in Vic, Osona

Musicians at the Medieval Fair in Vic, Osona, Barcelona Province

There are occupations that do not seem to change much throughout centuries. Take a look at these musicians dressed in medieval attires impersonating those wandering minstrels going from town to town entertaining the crowd for gratuities and think of how this eventually derived into today's buskers. Yes, street musicians keep working for peanuts and having a hard life. This image was taken last December in Vic, Osona during the local medieval market held each year. Check this video found on YouTube showing more or less what the medieval market looked like. In fact the old city streets do create a fantastic scenario to get the idea about medieval times.

March 05, 2011

Obama British Africa Pub, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 603, Barcelona

Obama British Africa Pub, Barcelona [enlarge]

Obama British Africa Pub at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 603 is an interesting place decorated with pictures and sculptures depicting the colonialist past of Great Britain in Africa. Gin, rhum, ales and stouts, the usual thing, you know, but imbued with that special mood. Coincidence or not, to the right of the big flashy Obama signs, the shop next door reads: Si o Si. Obama, Yes or Yes!

February 28, 2011

Ambient Essential Oil

Ambient Essence Oil

Ambient essential oils used in aromatherapy for uplifting the spirit and the mind vary in scents and colors, extracted as they are from different parts of a plant be it leaf, seed, wood, root, flower or resin among others. They have been part of alternative medicine and folk wisdom since time immemorial. That is why, it is not rare to find scented oil stands in medieval fairs around Catalonia, like this one in Vic, Osona (Barcelona Province).

February 24, 2011

Opposite Ways, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona

Crosswalk at Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

People come and go, establishing strange symmetries sometimes, like atoms in a formula, apparently chaotic and yet so harmonious and linked. People have lives of their own, walking in opposite ways, in opposite directions and yet they are part of the same project, human existence. Here is a good example at a pedestrian crossing in Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona.

February 21, 2011

Faculty of Medicine, Carrer Casanova, Barcelona, Spain

Faculty of Medicine, Carrer Casanova, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Although the Faculty of Medicine is located at present in carrer Casanova and has been there since 1906, the original premises were originally (1843) at carrer Carmen where the Royal Academy of Medicine is now. The 1906 building by architect Josep Domenech i Estapa, is a good example of eclectic classicism. This is a detail of the frieze that gives the building this magnificent look from every possible angle along Casanova street. Worth mentioning is the beautiful cloister inside. Notice the rhomboid figure with a hand inside to the right on the frieze: these are masonic symbols. You can check other pictures of the faculty in this album at Universitat de Barcelona official site

February 19, 2011

Coats, Mother and Daughter, Mercat del Ninot, Barcelona

Coats, Mother and Daughter, Mercat del Ninot, Barcelona [enlarge]

Mother and daughter perhaps, wearing identical coats at one of the outside stands in Ninot market. This market is still in its temporary location at carrer Casanova while the old one is being restored one block away from there. A common Barcelona scene captured at random for you. I hope you like the coats.
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