On to Barcelona…

14 01 2009

We arrived in Barcelona around 10pm on September 3, 2006.  I had used an online service to find an apartment here instead of a hotel — and it was great.  It was on Consell de Cent in the Eixample district.  We actually felt like we had our own little flat here…the apartment had a bedroom, living room, laundry, and a little kitchen.  Too bad we can’t stay here for a week!

The next morning we woke up early and made our way to the Parc Güell, stopping along the way for two cafés con leche and croissants con queso y jamón.  We made it to the park right as it was opening for the day and started wandering around.  We found trails all around, viaducts, random little things…almost hallucinogenic. 

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Chris on Tres Cruces

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We found great views of the city in the highest parts of the park.  From one point you could the Sagrada Familia.

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From another point, this.

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The details on the plaza were beautiful.

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After the park we walked over to the Sagrada Familia.  There’s something to shoot everywhere you look.  Here are just a few shots.

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We were both disappointed you could no longer walk up to the top but had to take the elevator — that trek was part of the fun!   You could still walk down though.

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Chris and I had both been here before, but never together.  Even without the stair experience, the view was still amazing.

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 After the Sagrada Familia we headed out to Camp Nou and the Museu of FC Barcelona.  We got to go inside the stadium and see the field…

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(or pitch, as Chris tells me)

…and then to the museum full of photographs showing just how huge fútbol is all over the world.  We also had a little fun in the store — FC Botiga.

Around 3pm, we decide to find lunch…plus, we’ve walked so much today I’m a little worn out and could use the rest.  I had picked a place off La Rambla but we could never find it, so we wandered around a bit and happened upon a place behind the Boquería called Ra.  We sat outside on the full patio and the food was pretty tasty.  I had gazpacho and then a chicken and rice dish and Chris had a squid soup and some kind of pureed melon drink.  Afterwards, Chris got in a siesta while I tried unsuccessfully to make a hotel reservation in Nice.  We wandered to a nearby diner-style restaurant for a simple dinner and prepared for an early morning train the next day.





Second Stop Madrid

8 01 2009

The overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid was nice, though a little warm.  We went all out for this leg of the journey and had a private cabin for two.  We even had a nice sit-down breakfast on the train.  We got to Madrid around 8:45 in the morning and started calling hotels from the train station.  After the 7th or 8th call, I finally found a room, and we headed straight there.  It was the Hotel Macarena — near the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.  The hotel was in a great location on the second floor of a building — the only downside was that it was really hot and there was no a/c, no fan.  After checking in, we decided to walk straight to the Prado. 

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It was truly amazing.  We spent hours there.  I saw so many of Goya’s masterpieces and tried to shoot them but the low light made it difficult.  As you can see.  I prefer his Black Paintings of the early 1820s.

Saturno devorando a un hijo (1821-1823)

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Duelo a garrotazos (1821-1823)

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Perro Semihundido (1821-1823) is my favorite.

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I also really loved the ancient sculpture.  A few of my favorites…

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The highlight for me was the special Picasso exhibition.  We are in Spain at a time when I think the entire country is celebrating several Picasso anniversaries, most notably perhaps the 25th anniversary of his death.  Picasso spent a great deal of time as a youth at the Prado, and the exhibition placed his work in the context of the paintings he viewed and was inspired by — in many cases right alongside.  Most striking to me was standing between Velazquez’s Las Meninas…

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…(which was not in the exhibition, but the exhibition opened giving you a view straight ahead into a gallery and the painting was centered on a wall through a corridor – breathtaking) and Picasso’s take on it (we were not allowed to take photos inside the Picasso exhibit).  What an experience.  Rubens, Goya, Velazquez…Picasso’s works from the early 1900s on…the whole thing was really incredible.  Then we walked over to the Reina Sofia and saw Guernica — really capped the whole thing off for me. 

On our way back we stopped off at a cafe for a drink, then headed back to the hotel for a nap.  Later that night we had tapas near the Puerta del Sol (Cañas y Tapas, I think) — jamón ibérico, queso manchego, garlic mushrooms, other hams and cheeses whose names escape me, and potatoes with a “hot” sauce and a nice Spanish white wine.  Afterwards, we enjoyed cafés y churros con chocolate in the Plaza Mayor.

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The next day, we accidentally slept until 11:30!  Oops!!  So, we had to go straight to the train station.  The first two trains to Barcelona were already booked, and now we won’t arrive until there until 10pm.  Oh well…am very much looking forward to it.  Wish we could stay in Madrid longer, though.  This is an even smaller glimpse of an amazing city than we had in Lisbon!  More mental notes that this is somewhere I must return to for an extended period of time…